New York lawmakers late Thursday evening put the finishing touches on a package of bills meant to strengthen legal protections of abortion service providers as well as women seeking abortions in the state ahead of a pending Supreme Court ruling that could overturn the Roe v. Wade ruling.
Gov. Kathy Hochul is expected to sign the measures.
But the Legislature is concluding its session this week without an agreement on a broader constitutional amendment that was meant to enshrine abortion rights and equality in the New York constitution.
Still, lawmakers were able to take action in anticipation of the court acting in the coming weeks, spurred by the leaked draft of a ruling last month.
“With the Supreme Court on the precipice of overturning Roe, it is incumbent that New York take actionable steps to become an abortion safe haven for women across the country,” said Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal.
Service providers will have added legal protections and be shielded from professional misconduct charges or subpoenas brought against them solely for performing procedures like abortions.
At the same time, lawmakers approved protections for women who are seeking abortions from states that are expected to outlaw the procedure if Roe is overturned. Those protections include shielding against extraditions and arrests and blocking law enforcement from cooperating with out-of-state entities investigating abortions performed in New York.
And lawmakers approved measures meant to bolster security for abortion providers, backing a bill that would allow providers as well as their family members, volunteers, staff and patients to be eligible for the state's confidentiality program. The move will allow them to apply for a designated address to receive their mail instead of their actual address.
“This legislation would offer providers and other individuals who could be in danger of violence from dangerous anti-abortion activists the peace of mind that their address is not readily available to the public," Assemblywoman Amy Paulin said.
The bills dovetail with Hochul last month sending additional funding to abortion service providers in New York to expand their facilities as well as strengthen security.
In a statement Thursday evening, Hochul said New York is prepared for a potential Supreme Court ruling on the issue.
"Make no mistake: For as long as I am governor, New York will be a safe harbor for all those who need abortion care," she said.
The abortion law changes were to the disappointment of groups that oppose the procedure, including the New York Catholic Conference, which had urged lawmakers to instead focus on issues facing families.