New York governor signs legal protections for abortion providers and patients

June 13 (Reuters) - Governor Kathy Hochul on Monday signed legislation that protects patients getting abortions and medical professionals in New York from legal retaliation by other states that restrict the procedure.

Some 26 states are poised to ban abortion if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, the 1973 case that legalized it nationwide. A leaked draft opinion by the court showed that its conservative majority intends to eliminate the constitutional right to abortion. A final ruling in that case is expected shortly.

New York's legislation shields providers and patients from a wave of new anti-abortion laws in some conservative states, led by Texas, that allow private citizens to sue anyone who aids or abets an abortion. The New York legislation allows providers and patients to file claims against anyone who tries to bring charges against them.

The new legislation also prohibits state courts from cooperating in civil or criminal lawsuits stemming from abortions that take place legally in New York, and prohibits law enforcement from cooperating with anti-abortion states' investigations into New York abortions.

The measures take effect immediately.

"Today, we are taking action to protect our service providers from the retaliatory actions of anti-abortion states and ensure that New York will always be a safe harbor for those seeking reproductive healthcare," Hochul, a Democrat, said in a statement.

New York, which has long been a haven for abortion access, is one of several liberal states expected to become a more frequent destination for out-of-state abortion patients as more states restrict it.

It is one of several Democrat-led states that have moved to protect abortion access this year, while conservative states have hastened to curb it. read more

Reporting by Gabriella Borter; Editing by Mark Porter

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Gabriella Borter is a reporter on the U.S. National Affairs team, covering cultural and political issues as well as breaking news. She has won two Front Page Awards from the Newswomen’s Club of New York - in 2020 for her beat reporting on healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, and in 2019 for her spot story on the firing of the police officer who killed Eric Garner. The latter was also a Deadline Club Awards finalist. She holds a B.A. in English from Yale University and joined Reuters in 2017.