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NY governor signs sweeping new abortion law that would allow abortions after 24 weeks
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

NY governor signs sweeping new abortion law that would allow abortions after 24 weeks

Similar legislation had been blocked by Republicans for years

On Tuesday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) signed a bill approving sweeping new abortion legislation.

Here's what we know

The Reproductive Health Act would permit abortions after 24 weeks if the health or life of the mother is at stake. It also allows abortions at any point in a pregnancy if the baby is determined to not be viable outside the womb. It also moved the regulation of abortion from criminal law to public health law.

Finally, it changes the law to allow licensed, certified, or authorized health care practitioners to perform abortions, instead of limiting that to only physicians. According to reporting by WNYT-TV, this would include nurse practitioners and physician assistants.

The bill passed the New York state Senate by a 38-24 vote and the state Assembly by a vote of 92-47. State Republicans had successfully blocked similar legislation for years, but the 2018 election gave Democrats a comfortable majority in both houses.

Despite complaints from pro-choice advocacy groups, New York has one of the highest rates of abortion in the United States. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2013 New York City had an abortion rate equal to 59.8 percent of its live birth rate — higher than the rate of any state in the nation. This means, as pointed out in December 2017 by NewsBusters, that one out of every three babies in New York City ends up aborted.

And that was under the previous law that pro-choice groups criticized for being too restrictive.

What else?

During the signing of this bill, Cuomo thanked Sarah Ragle Weddington, the woman who represented "Jane Roe" in the Roe v. Wade case. Jane Roe herself, whose real name was Norma McCorvey, ended up having her baby and becoming a pro-life advocate.

McCorvey would tell the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2005 that she believed she had been "used and abused by the court system in America," adding "instead of helping women in Roe v. Wade, I brought destruction to me and millions of women throughout the nation."

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