New York judge strikes down abortion ballot amendment

 May 10, 2024

A New York judge has thrown out a ballot measure to enshrine abortion in the state's constitution, in a setback for Democrats seeking to leverage the issue in this fall's elections.

Supreme Court Justice Daniel J. Doyle found that the state legislature did not go through the correct legal process to get the measure on the ballot.

New York's abortion laws are already very liberal, allowing abortion at any stage so long as a doctor decides a mother's health is at risk.

But Democrats, eager to blunt recent Republican momentum in the Empire State, want to make abortion an issue to energize their voters.

Abortion amendment thrown out

The judge found that the Democrat-run state legislature violated the state constitution by failing to get an advisory opinion from the attorney general before voting to advance the amendment.

"This Court cannot condone actions taken by the Legislature in derogation of the expressed will of the People,” the judge wrote.

The state's Democrats are not happy with the judge's ruling, which attorney general Letitia James (D) promptly pledged to appeal.

“This is a disappointing court decision, but we will appeal because New Yorkers deserve to be protected by their Constitution, especially as our basic freedoms and rights are under attack,” James said.

Governor Kathy Hochul (D) called the judge an "extremist."

“Our decades-long fight to protect equality and reproductive freedom will not be thrown off track by one extremist judge,” Hochul said.

Dems weaponize abortion

The state's Democrats have poured $20 million into pushing the Equal Rights Amendment, which would bar discrimination based on "pregnancy outcome" or "gender identity."

Republican critics have warned the amendment would enable males to participate in female sports and allow children to undergo "gender-affirming care" - meaning sexual reassignment surgery - without parental consent.

But for Democrats, the amendment is mainly about abortion and keeping the issue in the spotlight ahead of this year's high-stakes elections. Abortion has been a tough issue for Republicans, whereas Democrats are on defense when it comes to crime and immigration.

A backlash on crime has fueled Republican gains in New York, where Republican victories flipped control of the House in 2022.

New York is expected to be an important political battleground again this November, with tight races there possibly deciding the balance of power in Congress.

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