Revisiting New York’s Historic Abortion Law in “Deciding Vote”

Jeremy Workman and Robert Lyons’s film reconstructs the passage of a 1970 law that made the state a sanctuary for people seeking abortions, and cost a lawmaker his career.

by Linnea Feldman Emison
November 29, 2023

In April, 1970, three years before Roe v. Wade made it legal nationwide, New York passed the most expansive abortion law in the U.S. Three other states passed similar bills in the same year, but New York’s was of particular national significance because it allowed patients to get an abortion even if they weren’t residents. This made the state a hub for people from other parts of the country seeking to safely end their pregnancies. That role has become a lasting element of New York’s political identity—in anticipation of the Supreme Court overturning Roe, in 2022, it passed a suite of laws to again become a sanctuary state for those seeking abortions—but that 1970 law almost fizzled out in the state legislature.