With the recent swearing in of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court, supporters of women’s reproductive rights have been concerned that landmark Supreme Court decisions such as Roe v Wade and Casey v Planned Parenthood could now be in jeopardy. Those decisions guaranteed a right to abortion under federal law, and upheld that right, respectively. Kavanaugh replaces Justice Anthony Kennedy, the swing vote on the court, which means a majority of Justice’s on the court are now considered to have conservative leanings.

So what does that mean for New York?

The answer is not much at all, at least according to a recent somewhat under-the-radar report from the non-partisan Rockefeller Institute of Government. Interestingly enough, Rockefeller’s President is Jim Malatras, who previously served as Governor Cuomo’s Director of State Operations. But it was earlier this month at a stop in Peekskill where Cuomo announced that he will bring Democrats together to vote on the Reproductive Health Act within the first 30 days of the new legislative session that begins in January. That’s assuming, of course, that Democrats win a majority in the State Senate. Republicans have refused to schedule a vote on the bill ,known as RHA because they claim it is a massive expansion of abortion, whereas Democrats say the bill merely codifies federal abortion law into New York State Law.

The Rockefeller report concludes,

It is unlikely that any changes to federal law will directly affect the future of abortion rights in New York State because the New York Constitution and statutes already protect abortion rights in many of the same ways as the current federal constitutional precedents.

New York State was actually way ahead of the curve, passing it’s right to an abortion law in 1970 and predating Roe v Wade by three years. Under that original New York Law, abortion is addressed through the penal code. So certain types of abortions put doctors who perform them at legal risk. However, it would likely not fall back on that law if Roe v Wade were overturned because the State Constitution guarantees the same protections as the federal laws that currently exist. Those rights were found to exist as a right to privacy in the 1994 case Hope v Perales before The New York State Court of Appeals. It is hard to foresee a scenario in which New York’s highest court would overturn what is coming up on 25 years of precedent. Not to mention that all seven Judges currently on the court were appointed by Governor Cuomo, who has been a fierce advocate of women’s reproductive rights.

RHA would allow non-physician’s to perform abortions. Specifically Physician’s Assistant’s and Nurse Practitioner’s. That makes some people uncomfortable. As one Republican told me, the Senate Majority is “generally comfortable with current abortion law, but if you start expanding it, that makes them nervous.”

Cuomo’s Chief Counsel, Alphonso David told me earlier this month that if federal protections were eliminated that could be a problem in New York. “If the floor changes, then it’s vulnerable,” he said. According to David if doctors See any risk of being criminally prosecuted for performing abortions after 24 weeks, then they could make the choice not to perform them at all, and the procedure could end up only being available to the wealthy. He also says Physician’s Assistant’s and Nurse Practitioner’s were not certified professions in 1970, meaning that they may very well have been allowed to perform abortions under a doctor’s supervision.

The bottom line is that even if the Supreme Court overturns abortion, New York will likely be unaffected. However supporters of RHA want to make sure that’s the case by updating New York’s law and getting abortion out of the penal code. But as long as RHA changes the definition of who can perform the procedure, there is always going to be strong opposition by those who favor restrictions on abortion.