Two recently issued judicial opinions have slowed attempts in the United States to restrict abortion laws.
The rulings -- one pertaining to late term abortions in New York State, and the other involving a woman in Indiana convicted of feticide -- represent a strong judicial reaction to recent campaigns for law reform in legislatures across the country.
Last Wednesday New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman issued a legal opinion stating that late term abortion should not be criminalised in the state. Schneiderman said that healthcare providers should interpret the law in light of Supreme Court rulings that allow for late abortion in certain cases.
“New York law cannot criminalize what the federal Constitution protects, and thus the Penal Law should be interpreted to be consistent with the Constitution,” Schneiderman said.
The decision was lauded by the New York Civil Liberties Union and other groups.
"Now, the state Legislature should correct our abortion law to comply with the Constitution," NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman said in a statement.
In Indiana, a State court of appeals overturned a ruling that sentenced a 35-year-old woman to 20 years in prison for ending her own second trimester pregnancy using during drugs purchased illegally over the internet.
Purvi Patel, who has already been in jail for a year, was freed earlier this month after the Indiana Court of Appeals found that an earlier ruling had misapplied state law on illegal abortions. The law “intended for any criminal liability to be imposed on medical personnel, not women who perform their own abortions," the court said.
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