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Reproductive Health Act

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Buffalo: Reproductive Health Act
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The Reproductive Health Act is likely to become a top issue in Albany this year. It's causing fiery rhetoric, coming from all over the state. For Healthy Living, here’s Geoff Redick with more.

It's causing fiery rhetoric, coming from all over the state.

Governor Andrew Cuomo says, "It's her body, it's her choice!"

James Harden of Commission for Reproductive Health Service Standards said, "It's propaganda. It's not medicine."

KaeLyn Rich of NYCLU said, "This does not legalize 'abortion-on-demand.'"

Robert Brenna of Legal Analyst said, "This is a very sensitive topic. It's very emotionally-charged on both sides."

It' is New York's Reproductive Health Act, 'RHA' for short: proposed legislation that Governor Cuomo wants passed this year. The bill has the potential to re-write New York's laws on abortion. Depending on your views, that's either very good, or very bad.

Opponents of the RHA have been vocal, noting that under the proposal, persons could not be charged for killing a fetus.

James Harden of the Commission for Reproductive Health Service Standards said, "It dehumanizes the child in the womb. That means that if someone abuses their pregnant girlfriend and she miscarries at eight months, nine months, he will not be held liable for manslaughter or homicide. He just gets charges of assault, for example."

We consulted a legal analyst for an objective reading of the RHA. In this case, he says opponents of the bill are correct.

Brenna said, "To the extent that the new law does not provide for a homicide charge for the death of the fetus, then there is at least some logic behind the position that it is 'dehumanizing,' because it does not recognize the fetus as a human life."

RHA opponents say if a woman dies as the result of a mishandled abortion, the new law would let the performing doctor off the hook, no criminal liability. RHA supporters say that's a lie.

Rich said, "The same laws that currently apply about physician malpractice would still apply no matter what. It's not changing anything about that."

Our legal analyst says she's mostly right. Current law does provide special manslaughter charges for abortion. But in the RHA, those "automatic charges" are removed.

Brenna said, "Under the new law, there is no criminal liability for a doctor or licensed person performing the abortion, unless there is reckless causing of the death of the mother."

Supporters of the bill point out that it moves regulation of abortion from the criminal code, to the public health law. They say that's where abortion laws belong. There are more provisions dealing with contraceptive drugs as well.

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