New York doctors get legal protection to prescribe abortion pills across state lines

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NEW YORK (AP) — A law to protect doctors in New York who prescribe abortion pills to patients in states where the procedure is outlawed was signed Friday by Gov. Kathy Hochul, who said the measure would serve women living in states with bans.

Coming a year after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the nationwide right to abortion, the law bars New York officials from cooperating with certain legal actions initiated in states where abortion is banned, such as arrests or extraditions. New York joins several other states with similar telehealth “shield laws.”

“Extremist lawmakers in other states can stop their health care providers from supplying abortion pills. If that’s your state, I feel sorry for your constituents. But they can’t stop us. They can’t stop our providers,” Hochul, a Democrat, said at a bill signing ceremony.

A year after the Dobbs ruling, 14 states have bans on abortion throughout pregnancy — with some exceptions. Other states have adopted deep restrictions. In all, 25 million women of childbearing age now live in states with abortion bans or tighter restrictions.

New York already adopted protections for medical professionals who provide abortion care for patients traveling from states with bans or restrictions. But Hochul and lawmakers expanded protections to telehealth services at a time when more than half of abortions in the U.S. are carried out with medication.

ACT Access co-founder Dr. Linda Prine said they will mail pills as soon as the legislation is signed.

The measure was given final approval in the Legislature earlier this week as it ended its regular session.