ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — New York is a “safe haven” for abortion rights and is leading the nation on gun control measures, according to Rochester-area members of the New York State Legislature who held a press conference Tuesday to discuss the recent passage of legislation on gun safety and reproductive rights.
Members of the local delegation at Tuesday’s event included Assemblymember Harry Bronson, Senator Samra Brouk, Senator Jeremy Cooney, Assemblymember Jennifer Lunsford, Assemblymember Sarah Clark, and Assemblymember Demond Meeks.
Gov. Kathy Hochul signed 10 new public-safety-related bills Monday, one of which will ban New Yorkers under age 21 from buying semiautomatic rifles, making the state among the first to enact a major gun control initiative following a wave of deadly mass shootings.
“Last year, 81 people were murdered in Rochester — more than a 60% increase to the year prior,’ Meeks said. “Just this weekend we lost more lives to homicides. The pain has devastated our families. It is our responsibility to move forward with meaningful solutions.”
Other new public-safety laws the governor signed include requiring a micro stamp in new firearms, revising the state’s “red flag” law, and requiring all purchasers of semiautomatic rifles to get a license, something now required only for handguns. Another bill signed on Monday restricts the sales of bullet resident vests and armor only to people in certain professions.
“We are here today to remind folks that we realize New York state is the last barrier between many of these rollbacks,” Brouk said. “We need to protect New Yorkers. We cannot tolerate another racist mass shooting.”
“The new laws show that action can not only stop the violence but also start leadership,” Cooney said. “Parents and grandparents want action. We are about action.”
With the Supreme Courts’ draft opinion to overturn Roe v. Wade, Gov. Hochul last month called New York a “safe harbor” for abortion services.
“We are a strong pro-choice state and we will not have any rollback of Roe v. Wade here,” Bronson said,
In 2019 New York passed the Reproductive Health Act which codified Roe v. Wade into state law. It allows for pregnancies to be terminated after the 24-week mark if the woman’s mental or physical health is at risk. If Roe V Wade is overturned, each state would decide what to do with its abortion laws.
“We know that banning abortion doesn’t stop abortion — it just makes it less safe,” Lunsford said. “We are ensuring to everyone across our country that New York is a safe place for them to be.”
“We will continue to work to show the federal government what is possible when looking at New York,” Brouk said.
“There is no way that we can’t continue to ensure that our state is a safe haven, and not just for New Yorkers, but for everyone who doesn’t have the right to choose,” Clark said.
For New Yorkers who work in reproductive healthcare in any capacity, the following bills have strengthened their rights and safety:
- Prohibiting Medical Misconduct Charges for Performing Reproductive Health Care: Bill S.9079A, sponsored by Senator Anna Kaplan, protects licensed medical professionals from misconduct charges for providing legal abortions to out-of-state patients.
- Protection of Malpractice Coverage: Similar to the bill above, bill S.9080B, sponsored by Senator Michelle Hinchey, prohibits medical malpractice insurers from taking action against a healthcare provider in New York State for performing legal abortions or other reproductive healthcare needs.
- Freedom from Interference with Reproductive Health Advocacy and Travel Exercise: Bill S.9039A, sponsored by Senator Alessandra Biaggi, establishes a cause of action for those who unlawfully interfere with the rights to reproductive healthcare.
- Address Confidentiality Program: Bill S.9384A, sponsored by Senator Cordell Cleare, adds the employees, volunteers, providers, and the immediate family members of anyone in those groups to the Address Confidentiality Program.
For both New Yorkers and out-of-state patients, the following bills were passed protecting their rights and safety:
- Extradition and Discovery Non-Cooperation: Bill S.9077, sponsored by Senator Liz Krueger, prohibits New York State from participating in out-of-state cases involving abortion, with few exceptions.
- In criminal cases, the bill prevents extradition of a defendant in abortion-related cases, barring a written note from the governor alleging the abortion was performed in that state.
- In civil cases, New York State cannot honor out-of-state subpoenas involving legal New York State abortions, unless the case is brought by a patient.
- Study of the Impact of Limited Service Pregnancy Centers: Bill S.470, sponsored by Senator Brad Hoylman, aims to learn more about the unmet needs of pregnant people in New York State by starting a temporary task force to investigate the impact of “limited service pregnancy centers.”
Check back with News 8 WROC as we will continue to update this developing story.