Judge knocks New York abortion rights measure off fall ballot

NEW YORK — An upstate New York judge Tuesday knocked an abortion rights measure off the fall ballot on procedural grounds, dealing a blow to Democrats who hoped it would energize supporters and boost voter turnout in the state.

Supreme Court Justice Daniel J. Doyle ruled that state lawmakers improperly approved the language of the proposed constitutional amendment before getting a required written opinion from the state attorney general.

The ballot measure would have barred discrimination based on “pregnancy outcomes,” which proponents portrayed as a way of further protecting abortion rights in New York in the face of a conservative push for stricter bans nationwide.

The decision by the Rochester-based judge removes for now a politically charged question from the November ballot that Democrats hoped would encourage supporters of abortion rights to vote for President Biden and Democratic candidates in several congressional battleground districts.

Attorney General Letitia James said her office would appeal the judge’s ruling.

“New Yorkers deserve to be protected by their constitution, especially as our basic freedoms and rights are under attack,” said James, a Democratic supporter of abortion rights.

The issue of abortion has been a powerful mobilizing tool for Democrats across the country, especially since 2022, when the conservative Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade decision that had legalized it nationwide.

The ruling opened the door for Republican-run states to impose draconian abortion bans and spurred a new conservative legal effort to ban medication abortion nationwide.

Many political analysts credit anger over rollbacks of abortion rights for blunting what Republicans had hoped would be a sweeping victory in the 2022 midterm congressional elections.

Democrats are hoping to repeat that dynamic this year even in deep blue states like New York where abortion rights already enjoy robust protections.

Biden is already the favorite to carry the Empire State, but Democrats also hope to flip up to five GOP-held congressional seats in New York as they try to retake control of the House of Representatives.

Constitutional amendments to protect abortion rights will be on the fall ballot in several states, including battleground Arizona and former President Trump’s home state of Florida.

New York’s constitution already bans discrimination based on race, color, creed or religion.

The proposed amendment would have added add ethnicity, national origin, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, pregnancy, pregnancy outcomes and reproductive healthcare and autonomy to the list.