As the Supreme Court seems poised - perhaps in the coming days - to overturn Roe v. Wade, the court's landmark 1973 decision which legalized abortion nationwide, New York State continues to increase abortion access.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed a series of abortion-related measures into law on June 13 that the New York State Catholic Conference (NYSCC) says will allow the state to “continue to focus on promoting abortion.”

"At a time when women and children need more support than ever, we are disappointed to see New York continue to focus on promoting abortion,” said Kristen Curran, director of government relations for the conference, which represents the state’s bishops in public policy matters. “This package of bills seeks to encourage abortion tourism, rather than helping women and children who may be in need. As a state that claims to value autonomy and choice, New York should stop presenting abortion as the best and only option for struggling women, and harassing any pro-life pregnancy center that may help women keep their babies. This abortion-or-nothing narrative only demeans women.”

The four new pieces of legislation, which the NYSCC calls “Abortion Sanctuary Bills,” would encourage women from out of state to come to New York for abortions, shield state abortion providers from arrest and extradition to another state, while also prohibiting misconduct and malpractice charges against them.  

In a Memorandum of Opposition last month, the NYSCC wrote: “The New York legislature seems intent on responding to every state that acts on abortion by proposing bill after bill to expand and promote the practice here. On top of forcing all New Yorkers to support abortion through taxes and insurance premiums, they now seek to institute a sort of abortion tourism industry by inviting women from all over the country to terminate pregnancies in New York. This is an egregious affront to the millions of pro-life citizens who reject abortion and don’t want to fund these services for New Yorkers, much less those from across the country.” One more piece of legislation, that Hochul signed June 13 and which the NYSCC also opposed, “would harass pro-life pregnancy centers,” according to the conference. 

The legislation “would authorize the New York State Commissioner of Health to conduct a study and issue a report on the impact of pro-life pregnancy centers in the state. The pre-determined outcome of the ‘study’ is that such services are too ‘limited’ in denying pregnant women access to abortion,” the conference stated in its opposition. “By labeling pro-life pregnancy centers as ‘limited service pregnancy centers,’ it appears the intention of the bill is to intimidate, silence and shut down pro-life pregnancy centers. This legislation will force such centers, which rely primarily on volunteer workers, to turn over to the state voluminous data including funding sources, services, staffing, operational guidelines, client demographics and more, even if they receive no state subsidies. … A state that prides itself on being “pro-choice” should not be taking legislative action to obstruct the choice of childbirth.”

The flurry of bills that Hochul signed into law June 13 comes one month after she announced on May 10 that she was redirecting $35 million in state funds to support access and expand the capacity of abortion clinics in the state. Hochul directed the Department of Health to create a $25 million Abortion Provider Support Fund to expand abortion “access” and “capacity” for anyone seeking an abortion in New York. The remaining $10 million, through grants from the Division of Criminal Justice Services, ramps up safety at clinics.  

Hochul’s announcement in May came one day after New York Attorney General Letitia James backed the Reproductive Freedom and Equity Program, legislation that would provide even more money - published reports say $50 million annually - for abortion clinics in the state.  

The Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case involves a Mississippi law banning abortion after the 15th week of pregnancy. An initial draft of a Supreme Court opinion in the case that was leaked May 2 indicated the high court is set to overturn its Roe v. Wade decision, which 49 years ago legalized abortion nationwide. The court also is expected to overturn its 1992 ruling in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which affirmed Roe and prohibited regulations that created an "undue burden" on women seeking an abortion. If the final ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization overturns Roe and Casey, the issue of abortion would be returned to the states.

Catholic News Service contributed to this report.