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NYS still deciding how Reproductive Health Act affects some physicians and their assistants

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Office of the Governor
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Gov. Andrew Cuomo (front right) signs the Reproductive Health Act in January.

There is still some some uncertainty about how nurse practitioners and midwives are affected by a law that was supposed to expand the number of New York health care providers who can perform abortions.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the act in January, immediately after the State Legislature voted to codify the abortion rights in the U.S. Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade into New York law.

Supporters at the time said the Reproductive Health Act would ensure physician assistants, nurse practitioners and midwives can provide abortion care if their license allows it and they have the training.

According to bill sponsor Sen. Liz Krueger, "The RHA states: 'A health care practitioner licensed, certified, or authorized under title eight of the education law, acting within his or her lawful scope of practice, may perform an abortion.' This means that some physicians and some Advanced Practice Clinicians (APCs), including physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and licensed midwives are qualified and authorized to provide abortion care. It is important to know that the RHA does not change laws that govern medical providers or scope of practice."

But state regulators are still deciding whether to allow midwives - who can prescribe and administer drugs - and nurse practitioners to perform abortions that involve suction in the first trimester.

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