The newly emboldened state legislature passed the Reproductive Health Act late on Tuesday afternoon, and Governor Andrew Cuomo immediately signed it. Legislators in Albany had been trying to pass the legislation, which protects and expands abortion rights in New York, since 2007.
Previously New York did not allow women to have abortions after 24 weeks unless their life was in danger; doctors faced up to seven years in prison for performing third-trimester abortions otherwise. (The need for late-term abortions in New York was publicized by a Brooklynite who told her story of having to travel to Colorado to end a nonviable pregnancy in an anonymous interview with Jezebel in 2016; she later went public with her name, and became an outspoken advocate for the new law.) The RHA also moves abortion statutes out of the penal code, codifying the right to an abortion in the state's health laws in case the federal government were to prohibit abortion.
"A woman's power to decide whether she will give birth or not is the single greatest determinant of whether she is healthy or not, educated or not, works outside the home or not, and how long she will live," Gloria Steinem said in a statement released by the governor's office. "This power has been taken away by patriarchy and racism, sometimes disguised as religion, yet it is our most basic democratic right.
"I'm thankful to Governor Cuomo and the New York State legislature for passing the Reproductive Health Act," Steinem's statement continued. "It will codify Roe v. Wade in New York State law, guarantee women's right to make decisions about our own bodies, and help create a future in which every child has the right to be born loved and wanted."
Cuomo's inability to push the RHA through the state legislature became a campaign issue last year when his opponent Cynthia Nixon called the governor out for not pressing for the legislation's passage, and cut a highlight reel of the governor making tasteless, stupid remarks about women—a habit that has continued into his third term.
On Tuesday, Cuomo was exultant, sporting a pink tie, thanking advocates and legislators.
"I was speaking to one of my daughters and I said, 'Oh, it's great the legislature is gonna pass the Reproductive Health Act. She said, 'The Reproductive Health Act? Weren't you supposed to do that like, eight years ago?'" Cuomo told the audience, to laughter.
"She said, 'Hey dad, don't ever give me problems for a deadline again."
And on Tuesday night, the governor ordered the top of One World Trade Center to be lit up pink.
Some people might say that lighting the World Trade Center pink to celebrate the passage of the Reproductive Health Act is a form of gender stereotyping. pic.twitter.com/e3l9iaj8Xf
— Laura Nahmias (@nahmias) January 23, 2019
UPDATE: An earlier version of this story stated that the Empire State Building was lit pink last night; it was in fact One World Trade Center.