06/07/2010 02:44 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Anti-Choice Bills Beaten Back in New York Assembly Health Committee

Three anti-choice bills that would have had a detrimental impact on women's health and safety have just been beaten back in the New York Assembly Health Committee. Pro-choice members of the committee stood strong with their votes, representing the pro-choice values of the majority of New Yorkers. I commend committee members on supporting a woman's right to choose and now call on lawmakers to pass the Reproductive Health Act.

New York has a long and proud legacy of protecting reproductive rights. The committee's action kept women's health care and rights from sliding backward; New York must now be proactive to move women's reproductive rights forward by passing the Reproductive Health Act.

Forty years ago, New York was one of the first states in the nation to permit safe and legal abortion. While the law was groundbreaking at the time, it needs updating. Currently, health care providers and the women they serve are guided by the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision if a pregnancy goes awry or the woman becomes ill and abortion is an option to protect her health. New York's law, passed in 1970, only protects a woman during pregnancy if her life is in danger.

While other states continue to pass laws that put the health and safety of women at risk, the Reproductive Health Act will ensure that women of New York do not face the same fate. Kidney failure, diabetes, stroke, extremely high blood pressure and cancer are just a few of the complications that can occur during, or as a result of, pregnancy. These situations put women and their families in the position of making difficult decisions.

This is a time when patients and their health care providers need to make the best decisions to preserve a woman's health without having to consider conflicts between New York State law and federal case law, as they do now. The Reproductive Health Act will ensure that.

The Reproductive Health Act also will place regulation of abortion care in the state's public health code, removing it from the criminal code where it has been since before 1970. Health care is governed in the state's public health code. Women's reproductive health care should not be treated any differently.

Additionally, the Reproductive Health Act guarantees everyone the right to use or refuse contraception. This will prevent any mandatory imposition of contraception to the women of New York by regulation or judicial ruling.

The Reproductive Health Act must become law for the benefit of the state's women and families.