Our mission is to help build a world in which every person — regardless of their race, income, insurance, gender identity, sexual orientation, abilities, or immigration status — can access expert, compassionate sexual and reproductive health care, information, and education without shame or judgement. We are committed to advocating for policies that boldly expand access to affordable, quality health care, strengthen sexual and reproductive rights, and dismantle the systemic racism that permeates the systems that form our society. It is with intention that we pursue an agenda that honors the reproductive justice framework established by women of color led organizations, because true bodily autonomy lies not just in one’s ability to control their reproductive destiny, but also in their human right to live and parent in safe, healthy and sustainable communities.
PPESA strives to use gender-inclusive terms such as “pregnant people,” or “people seeking abortions,” as often as possible. We may opt to use gendered language in specific circumstances, such as to reflect the language used in a statute/regulation or research finding, or to align our language with the language people use themselves. PPESA seeks to continually learn and change the language we use to be as inclusive as possible, and we welcome your questions and suggestions on how to improve.
New York has a proud legacy of advancing access to reproductive and sexual health care. In the face of relentless attacks on access to reproductive health care across the country and a pandemic that is disproportionately impacting communities of color while disrupting access to care and coverage for so many, we must take measures to build upon this legacy by eliminating barriers to patient-centered, high quality, and affordable health care for all. Legislative proposals we support include but are not limited to:
Increasing Funding for Reproductive and Sexual Health Care.
In 2016, it was estimated that roughly 1.2 million low-income New Yorkers were in need of publicly funded primary reproductive and sexual health care services. This need is deepened by the fact that the pandemic has altered the economic and social realities of people’s lives – especially those who were already facing systemic barriers to care. A lack of access to primary and preventive reproductive health care impacts a person’s ability to shape their future in ways that fundamentally impact their health and economic security. The Comprehensive Family Planning and Reproductive Health Program facilitates access to a range of high-quality critical primary preventive reproductive and sexual health care services across New York State. Reproductive health care providers are not just entry point into the health care system, but often a primary provider of care as well.
However, these safety-net providers have been required to do more with less. For more than a decade, New York’s family planning grant has failed to see any growth, despite the presence of rising costs of delivering care and consistent community need. If the state were to have provided a 2.5% increase each year over the last 10 years, the program would have increased by approximately $7.8 million. This is the time to increase the state’s investment in this critical program and expand access to primary and preventive health care throughout NYS. The FY23 NYS budget must increase funding to reproductive and sexual health care providers by infusing, at minimum, an additional $7.8 million into the NYS family planning grant.
Closing the Post-Pregnancy Medicaid Coverage Gap.
New York currently extends the Medicaid special eligibility for pregnant people to just 60-days post-pregnancy, meaning that a person’s affordable health coverage may end before the threat of maternal mortality does. One in three pregnancy-related deaths occur between one-week and one-year after pregnancy. The risk of pregnancy-related death for Black women is more than three times that of white women, and in New York City, that rate hurtles to twelve times – a glaring and disturbing disparity caused by racism. Extending Medicaid coverage beyond 60 days post-pregnancy has been endorsed by more than 275 national and statewide organizations, including the NYS Expert Panel on Postpartum Care. New York must pass A.307- Gottfried/S.1411-Rivera to ensure continuous Medicaid coverage by extending eligibility from 60-days to 1-year post-pregnancy.
Guaranteeing Coverage of Abortion Care.
The right to abortion is meaningless without the ability to access care. As with any health care service, insurance coverage enables access. New York is one of 16 states that covers abortion care with state funds in our Medicaid program. In 2017, state regulations strengthened insurance coverage of abortion care, ensuring New Yorkers had affordable access. We must build upon these policies and put in our state law a requirement for insurers to cover abortion care. This bill (A.7573-González- Rojas/S.7002-Brouk) would require insurance coverage for abortion, creating parity between types of pregnancy-related care.
Strengthening Access to and Coverage of Virtual Care.
The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated widespread adoption and utilization of telehealth and has forever changed the way we access care. Much of this growth was possible because of federal and state actions that loosened restrictive policies that burdened providers and established requirements that insurers pay providers for care as if it were delivered in person. Despite these important steps, access to virtual care is far from universal. Both urban and rural communities alike face barriers to reliable and affordable internet and devices that will enable them to connect virtually to a health care provider. New York must pursue policies and investments that break down these barriers, and ensure providers have the ability to sustainably deliver patient-centered virtual care to all who need it. Failure to do so will deepen existing inequities, disproportionately impacting communities who have for far too long faced systemic barriers to care that have threatened their health and well-being. PPESA supports legislative initiatives that will advance equitable and affordable access to telehealth including A.8079-Woerner, which will expand coverage of asynchronous telehealth technology to meet patients where they are; payment parity between delivery of health care services via telehealth and in-person (A.6256- Woerner/S.5505-S.5505-Rivera); and efforts to address access to affordable and reliable broadband.
The right to bodily autonomy and equality is foundational to one’s ability to live fully and freely. In 2019, following a decade of advocacy and in the face of federal threats, lawmakers passed the Reproductive Health Act, aligning our state law with the federal protections provided for under Roe v. Wade. This was a historical step to modernize our law and protect the right to abortion here in New York. But it was also just the beginning. While often seen as a progressive beacon, our state constitution fails to uphold equality for all New Yorkers, preventing us from redressing the myriad of ways discrimination – particularly misogyny and racism - show up in the systems and institutions that form our society. We must continue to fight for laws and policies that respect and advance the right to self-determination, regardless of your who you are, where you live or how much money you have.
Legislative proposals we support include but are not limited to:
Advancing an Equality Amendment.
For decades, brilliant legal minds and fierce advocates have fought for a vision of equality for all – challenging the ways in which antiquated notions of gender and racial bias show up in our everyday lives. The state and federal Constitutions are the foundational documents that protect our fundamental rights. We must fight to ensure they reflect and truly protect all of us – and for that to occur they need to be amended. PPESA supports legislation (S.8797-Krueger) that will amend our state constitution to ensure it can effectively dismantle the overt and insidious ways systems and institutions foster discrimination here in New York.
Ensuring Comprehensive Sexuality Education for all New York Youth.
Information is power. When young people have the tools they need to make healthy decisions about their bodies and their relationships, they have a brighter future.Comprehensive sexuality education has been shown to improve health outcomes and benefit our youth. Unfortunately, there is no consistent requirement for this education in New York, creating a patchwork system where not all kids receive this education and in some cases are not receiving accurate information. PPESA supports legislation that would require the inclusion of comprehensive, medically accurate, culturally, age and developmentally appropriate sexuality education in publicly funded K-12 schools statewide. Because your ability to access this vital information should not be dependent upon your zip code.
Creating an Abortion Access Fund.
Since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973, anti-abortion state legislators across the country have enacted 1,300 abortion restrictions designed to keep abortion inaccessible. If Roe falls this year, 26 states are likely or certain to ban abortion, and New York will become more of a destination state than it already is. Abortion funds have long known that legality alone has never been enough to secure real access to abortion. PPESA supports legislation (A.1926-Reyes/S.758-Biaggi) that would establish an Abortion Access Fund and permit taxpayers to voluntarily contribute to it on their state income tax return form. The money raised would be distributed to non-profit organizations providing logistical and financial support to individuals who find access to abortion care out of reach. More so now than ever, New York has a role and responsibility to expand access to this fundamental right and health care service.
Exploring the Impact of Limited Service Pregnancy Centers.
Anti-abortion pregnancy centers often masquerade as full-service health centers, while offering individuals limited services such as free pregnancy tests, ultrasounds and biased counseling. Anecdotal evidence suggests their main intent is to persuade individuals not to seek abortion care. These actions can be deeply stigmatizing and impact access to timely reproductive health care. PPESA supports legislation (S.470-Hoylman/A.5499-Glick) that would advance a study of Limited Service Pregnancy Centers in our state to understand how they function and impact access to comprehensive reproductive health care.
The right to bodily autonomy and self-determination is interconnected to the broader fight for social justice. For hundreds of years, racism, classism, misogyny, heteronormativity and white supremacy have permeated the systems that form our society. We see it in the unjust actions of our legal system. It lives in our health care system that fails communities of color, Indigenous people and immigrants. It thrives in an economy that favors the wealthy at the expense of the vulnerable. It lies within the false narrative that you have a right to decide when to begin or grow a family, but not the right to parent with resources and supports and in safe and sustainable communities. It is both explicit and implicit, intertwined in everyday actions, and the policies and laws that facilitate inequity and reinforce systems of power. It is incumbent upon all of us to name, disrupt, and dismantle the oppression experienced by far too many and build a New York where true justice and equality is the lived experience of all.
Legislative proposals we support include but are not limited to:
Access to Child Care.
One of the cornerstones of reproductive justice is the ability to raise children under safe and sustainable conditions, and accessible child care is fundamental to that idea. Quality child care is essential to achieving financial stability for working families, yet for many New Yorkers it is out of reach. The pandemic has posed even greater challenges both in accessing and providing child care, especially within marginalized communities and communities of color. Reproductive freedom is not possible if families can't access affordable care, and if our child care workers are not invested in or valued for the critical role they play in the education of our children and the economic potential of our communities. Planned Parenthood Empire State Acts stands with the Empire State Campaign for Child Care in this critical fight for families and the workers who we rely upon day-in-day-out to cultivate the young minds that will be our future.
It has been said that a budget is an expression of one’s vision and values. Yet for years, we have seen our state budget balanced on the backs of the most vulnerable, and those who provide critical services to them. In 2021, the state budget took historic steps to address inequities in our tax system, and to ensure that revenue was justly invested in programs to help those in need. We must continue to identify and advance policies that further the goals of equitable taxation and ensure resources are invested in the communities that have been disproportionally impacted by COVID and decades of economic and racial injustice. This will bring us closer to a vision of equality for all. Planned Parenthood Empire State Acts supports the Invest in Our New York Campaign.
In addition, PPESA supports elimination of the arbitrary Medicaid global cap (A.226- Gottfried/S.5255 Rivera), which has been used to justify cuts to the Medicaid program. New York should instead allow for growth in the Medicaid program to provide quality care to everyone.
Addressing the Reproductive Health and Rights of Incarcerated Persons.
Every individual has a right to be treated with dignity and to have the necessary resources and supports that enable them to truly exercise agency in their reproductive decision making. However, we live in a society where these fundamental rights are constrained by conditioned beliefs as to who is deserving of, or entitled to, this respect and treatment under the law. These dynamics are even more pronounced in the criminal law system. Inherently, incarceration undermines reproductive autonomy. This is distinctly true for Black women and women of color, whose lives lie in the intersections of identities that are devalued and forced to exist within systems of oppression. PPESA supports legislation (A.211-Rosenthal/S.401-Biaggi) that will require NYS correctional facilities to provide access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care services.
Expanding Access to Affordable Health Care Coverage.
Everyone’s health depends on access to care and coverage. More than 400,000 New Yorkers cannot enroll in health insurance because of their immigration status. The Essential Plan for All (A.880-Gottfried/S.1572-Rivera) will make access to affordable care a reality for undocumented New Yorkers by establishing a state-funded Essential Plan program for immigrants whose status makes them ineligible for other state and federally funded coverage. PPESA stands with the #Coverage4All campaign in calling for passage of the Essential Plan for All to ensure coverage for all New Yorkers.
Advancing Voting Protections and Reforms.
The ability to preserve and expand access to reproductive rights and dismantle oppression rests on the right to vote. Conducting elections in 2020 during the pandemic put a spotlight on deficiencies in New York state’s election system. It is critical that along with the right to vote, voters have access to the ballot. PPESA will support legislation that ensures the right to vote and access to the ballot through modernization of New York’s election system.
Supporting Medical Aid in Dying.
The right to bodily autonomy and self-determination is not constrained to one aspect of being, but rather the spectrum of life. PPESA supports passage of the Medical Aid in Dying Act (A.4321-Paulin/S.6471-Savino), to provide adults with the agency to make end-of-life decisions for themselves, with dignity and compassion.
Ensuring Access to Representation.
The right to counsel is a fundamental component of our legal system, but one that does not extend to immigration court. PPESA supports the Access to Representation Act (A.1961-Cruz/S.81-Hoylman) which will guarantee that low-income immigrants are able to access legal representation for immigration proceedings. This act will put into place resources and legal safeguards to ensure that immigrants can fight for their right to remain with their families and in their communities.