Abortion in the New York State Constitution

On January 30, Governor Andrew Cuomo spoke at a rally near the State Capitol, where he proposed putting Roe v. Wade rights into the New York State Constitution. This measure would further protect the ability of women in New York to get abortions, even if the United States Supreme Court were to overturn Roe v. Wade. Attorney Paul Cambria spoke to WGRZ’s Kelly Dudzik about the proposal. The full story is available on the WGRZ website.

Constitution difficult to change

According to WGRZ, a change to the New York State Constitution would be difficult to overturn, but it is also a difficult task. Voters in New York will vote this year on whether or not to have a constitutional convention, which is a rewriting of the constitution that could take several years. If this does not happen, the amendment proposed by Governor Cuomo requires a public referendum and approval from the Legislature two years in a row, which means the change would not take effect until 2019 at the earliest. Because of this lengthy process, adding amendments to the New York State Constitution is rare. Mr. Cambria told WGRZ that “there really haven’t been amendments in [his] lifetime that [he] can think of as to our state constitution.”

State constitution grants greater rights than federal

Mr. Cambria went on to explain how this amendment, if passed, would protect women’s rights in New York even if the Supreme Court were to overturn Roe v. Wade. “I handled a case in our highest court which established the fact that, under our state constitution, we can grant citizens greater rights and protections than are granted under our federal constitution. Not less, but greater. So here, if, for example, a Supreme Court pick by Trump decides to side with the group that wants to get rid of Roe v. Wade, our constitution could protect that privacy interest and protect abortion rights here.” Mr. Cambria also told WGRZ that, if it were decided that Roe v. Wade should be overturned, that process would still take years.

About Paul J. Cambria, Jr.

The chair of Lipsitz Green Scime Cambria’s Criminal Defense Trials and Appeals Practice Area, Mr. Cambria advises clients on criminal trials, criminal appeals, constitutional and First Amendment law, zoning and land use, antitrust, and professional licensing defense. He divides his time between the firm’s offices in Buffalo and Los Angeles.