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[In February 2020, Professor Ava Ayers announced that she is transgender. This article has been edited to reflect her gender identity.
Read more here.]
A new policy brief from the Center for Law & Policy Solutions at the Rockefeller Institute of Government in partnership with the
Government Law Center at Albany Law School explains the history of reproductive rights in New York State and how the state's laws could continue to protect those rights if federal protections are weakened.
With the Senate Judiciary Committee scheduled to vote Thursday on whether to advance the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, author
Ava Ayers, director of the Government Law Center and advisor to the Center for Law & Policy Solutions, examines Kavanaugh's record on abortion and concludes that a substantial rollback of protections provided by
Roe v. Wade and
Planned Parenthood v. Casey is likely if he is confirmed to the Supreme Court.
If the issue is handed back to the states, New York's laws will become enormously important. In the
policy brief, Ayers details how New York's laws compare to federal laws, where gaps exist, and how things may shift if federal law changes.
The report is an outgrowth of a forum held at the Rockefeller Institute in July, in which Ayers and other panelists discussed how state constitutions will become increasingly important under a more conservative Supreme Court. A video of the forum is available at
"This is an incredibly important topic to be examining now — the state of reproductive choice in New York if
Roe v. Wade is overturned or further weakened," said Jim Malatras, president of the Rockefeller Institute of Government. "In this concise policy brief, [Ava] Ayers gives us answers informed by deep knowledge of the relevant state and federal laws. This will serve as a foundation for what is sure to be a critical area of discussion and policymaking in the coming years."
"One in every eight abortions in the United States takes place in New York State," said Ayers. "Change is coming at the federal level, but we can't know how those changes will affect the situation on the ground until we know what protections exist in state law. New York State policymakers have been debating changes in the state's abortion laws for years; this brief should help inform that discussion by showing how the Supreme Court's new direction could impact New Yorkers."
"We're seeing discussions at the national level about the possibility of a more conservative Supreme Court overturning
Roe v. Wade and what that may mean for women's reproductive health," said Katie Zuber, executive director of the Center for Law & Policy Solutions. "But if that happens, the issue will come down to the states. That's why it's crucial that we understand the laws and protections that we have in New York, and how they may be affected. [Ava] Ayers skillfully explains what New Yorkers need to know."
The Center for Law & Policy Solutions recently announced that it will focus on reproductive freedom this fall, working with a team of student research interns from the University at Albany. They will map existing legal protections in New York, assess the potential effects of a reversal of
Roe v. Wade, and evaluate alternative policies to improve women's access to reproductive healthcare services. The project will culminate with a report on their findings later this year. Read more at
In its ongoing examination of this issue, the Center for Law & Policy Solutions welcomes interested researchers and subject experts to contribute their analyses. Please contact Rockefeller Institute Communications Director Kyle Adams at
firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (518) 443-5835 to get involved.
Read the policy brief
About the Rockefeller Institute of Government
The Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government is the public policy research arm of the State University of New York. The Institute conducts fiscal and programmatic research on American state and local governments. Learn more at www.rockinst.org.
About the Government Law Center
The Government Law Center at Albany Law School helps state and local governments better serve their communities through nonpartisan legal research and analysis. By bringing together a diverse and inclusive group of lawyers, students, scholars, and community partners, the Center prepares students for careers as skilled and leading attorneys in public service; advances Albany Law School's unique connection to government; and informs national conversations on government and the law. Learn more at