The New York Civil Liberties Union today applauded Assemblymember Deborah Glick for introducing the Reproductive Health Act, a bill that will strengthen and modernize New York's abortion laws.

“The State Assembly has a proud record of championing the rights of women,” NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman said. “This important legislation is not only about strengthening reproductive rights. It’s about supporting autonomy, privacy and dignity. It’s about supporting healthy families.”

Assemblymember Glick, D-66th-A.D, introduced the bill (A.11484) on Thursday. It was introduced in the Senate (S. 5808) by Andrea Stewart-Cousins, D/WF-35th-S.D., during the 2009 legislative session.

Abortion has been legal in New York since 1970, but the state has not revised its laws since. New York law still treats abortion as a crime and does not affirmatively guarantee women’s right to make private reproductive health care decisions. New Yorkers rely on the Roe v. Wade decision to guarantee that right, which leaves it vulnerable to further erosion by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Reproductive Health Act would guarantee a woman’s right to control her reproductive health and treat the regulation of abortion as an issue of public health rather than as a potential crime.

Currently, state law only protects women during pregnancy if their lives are in immediate danger, leaving them vulnerable to a wide range of complications that can occur during pregnancy. The bill will ensure that if continuing a pregnancy jeopardizes a woman’s health, she has safe, legal options.

It will not force health care providers to provide abortion services in conflict with their religious beliefs. It specifically states: “Nothing in this article shall be construed to conflict with any applicable state or federal law or regulation permitting a health care provider to refrain from providing abortions due to the provider’s religious or moral beliefs.”

“Since Roe v. Wade, generations of women have benefited from the constitutional right to make one of life’s most important and personal decisions — whether or when to have a child — without government interference,” said Corinne Carey, NYCLU senior public policy counsel. “This act ensures that in New York our rights will be protected in the future.”