As heinous as critics find New York's decision to legalize abortion up until the day of birth, former Planned Parenthood clinic director turned pro-life advocate Abby Johnson warns this is nothing new. It's a much bigger issue than most people realize.
The controversial Reproductive Health Act, which was signed into law Tuesday by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), does away with restrictions on abortion past 24 weeks. Given the state's track record on reproductive issues, Johnson says the news comes as no surprise to her.
"New York is already known as the nation's abortion capital, so I don't think that's going to change with this new law," she recently told CBN News.
However, in a wake-up call to pro-life Americans, Johnson notes that similar late-term abortion scenarios have long been unfolding across the United States.
"I know that many are disheartened by the New York vote to legalize abortion through birth, but let me be clear," she writes in a Facebook post. "This is already happening in almost a dozen other states. THIS IS NOT NEW. Babies have been aborted through birth for quite some time now. New York has now just been added to the list."
Johnson also predicts that abortion doctors in other parts of the country may soon be relocating to The Empire State. "I think that what will happen is that a lot of these late-term abortion providers are going to be now seeking practices in New York so that they can perform late-term abortions without any penalty," she said.
How Widespread is Late-Term Abortion?
The Guttmacher Institute reports that while most states restrict later-term abortions, many of those restrictions have been struck down – mostly because they don't contain a health exception.
And according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the following states don't have any prohibitions on abortion later in pregnancy: Alaska, Colorado, District of Colombia, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, and Vermont.
In addition, 24 other states make an exception, allowing late-term abortions for the sake of the mother's general health. Pro-life advocates contend that the generic "health" exception essentially allows abortion-on-demand, saying late-term abortions can be allowed in any states that have a generic exception for the health of the mother.
Faithwire's Will Maule explains, "Effectively, abortion will be available 'on demand' up until birth — if the woman wants to terminate her fully-formed child because she claims it is too much for her to deal with financially, emotionally or otherwise, she will be allowed to do so."
Other states from the KFF list make it clear that the mother's life or "physical health" must be at risk to allow a late-term abortion, which seems to be proof of that pro-life claim regarding the general "health" exception.
What exactly is late-term abortion? Christian author and speaker Lisa Bevere offers this heartbreaking description:
Please Read THIS! I pray this serves as a WAKE-UP We’ve been too P.C. or too afraid of offending for too long! This is an OUTRAGE! Please #Repost @jennjohnson20 Pure evil. Full term abortion legalized in New York. #SpeakUp #YourVoiceMatters #PrayForChange (post from @estherhouston)
And Johnson offers this rebuttal to the health argument that pro-choice advocates make for late-term abortion.
The Broader Nationwide Battle Over Abortion
Meanwhile, in yet another blow to the pro-life cause, a district court judge ruled Tuesday that Iowa's pro-life "fetal heartbeat" law is unconstitutional and may not be enforced. The law would ban abortions once a baby's heartbeat is detected, which can happen as early as six weeks into gestation.
Many abortion advocates are hoping developments like the ones in New York and Iowa are a sign that 2019 will be a watershed year in what they view as the fight for women's 'reproductive health.'
"This is a time where women are feeling they have some political power. This is not a foregone conclusion, but there's no time to stand on the sidelines anymore," the Pacific Standard quoted Julie McClain Downey, senior director of campaign communications at the pro-abortion Emily's List.
Johnson, however, argues there has never been a better time to advance the cause of the unborn – and perhaps ultimately overturn Roe v. Wade.
"I think it is the right time to take a personhood or heartbeat bill to the Supreme Court. And so that's sort of the hope – that a bill will be passed in a state that the pro-choice groups (Planned Parenthood, NARAL, NAF) will then challenge the state law and then take it to the Supreme Court," she told CBN News.
"And then, hopefully, the Supreme Court would hear that case and would then overturn Roe v. Wade and would allow states to make the decision whether or not they want abortion in their own state," she said.
That's precisely the reason Cuomo and New York Democrats gave for expanding abortion rights and adding them into New York law. They say Roe v. Wade could be overturned soon, which would then leave the future of abortion rights in the hands of the individual states. So they want to enshrine abortion into New York's state constitution next to ensure that abortion will always be legal in New York, even late-term abortions up until the point of birth.