The mother of one of my colleagues was watching the Alito hearings. Good for her; I watched not a minute except what I saw on the news summaries. She is very concerned about what Alito on the Supreme Court would mean for women’s reproductive rights, which got to her to wondering about the NYS law concerning abortion prior to Roe v. Wade. My colleague asked me – always ask the librarian – and I said (off the top of my head) I believed that it was made legal at some point after 1969 and before the fall of 1971, when I went to college.
In fact, the law making abortion legal in New York, the most liberal law in the US at the time, was passed in the spring of 1970, but only because Assemblyman George M. Michaels changed his vote. This made New York, and especially NYC, “The Abortion Capital of America”, according to a New York magazine article.
Not that things were settled: From this article:
Between the passage of New York’s law in 1970 and the Supreme Court’s decision of January ’73, no more state legislatures voluntarily passed permissive abortion laws. In April of ’72, New York State repealed its most permissive law. Governor Nelson Rockefeller vetoed the repeal, and the law remained in force. In the November ’72 elections, however, so many pro-abortion legislators were swept out of office that the New York General Assembly had enough votes to override the governor’s veto. Plans were made to again repeal the law when that legislature reconvened in 1973. Before it could act, however, the Supreme Court
handed down the Roe v. Wade decision and nothing was done.
The 33rd anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade decision is this Sunday. If the Supreme Court does strike down Roe, what will happen in New York State? Of course, it depends on how the ruling is worded, but history does not provide much guidance. It will likely to become a states’ issue again, and the political climate from three decades ago may not provide much guidance.
The Supreme Court ruling this week on the Oregon assisted suicide law was decided on states’ rights, not on the merits of the law itself. Expect more litigation on this issue. My primary concern over Alito on the Supreme Court is that he seems inclined to take the side of the federal government in most matters. Most pundits think the Senate vote is a done deal.
Information about the short film The Abortion Diaries.