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Planned Parenthood Thanks Legislators for Affirming Our Right to Reproductive Health Care

(Albany, NY) Today the New York State Legislature moved our state forward with milestone legislation securing our reproductive health care and rights. In the face of constant federal attacks and a new anti-Roe majority on the Supreme Court, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl E. Heastie led their houses in passing legislation keeping essential reproductive health care in our hands, with the Reproductive Health Act (RHA) (A21 Glick/S 240 Krueger), protecting our right to abortion care. We applaud the leadership of the legislature, bill sponsors, and Governor Andrew Cuomo for their commitment to securing our reproductive freedom and rights at the beginning of the 2019 legislative session.

As other states roll back abortion rights and access, the RHA enshrines the standard of Roe v. Wade in our state law. With over a decade of advocacy for the RHA, reproductive health care activists statewide are celebrating New York’s refusal to turn back the clock on safe, legal abortion and acknowledgment of the centrality of accessible reproductive health care. 

Statement from Robin Chappelle Golston, President & CEO, Planned Parenthood Empire State Acts:

“Almost 50 years ago, our state was a national leader in striking down barriers to reproductive health care. Today New York State leads again to ensure all New Yorkers have access to abortion and contraception. We cannot overstate how important it is for all New Yorkers to have the ability to control their own bodies and determine their own destinies. As we continue to face challenges to reproductive health care access on the federal level, it is paramount that New York is the beacon and state model of what reproductive health care should be. We thank the Senate and Assembly leadership, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl E. Heastie, and the sponsors for their tireless advocacy. We also applaud Governor Andrew Cuomo’s continued rallying cry and commitment.” 

“Our state is moving forward today because New Yorkers demand the ability to control our own bodies and determine our own destinies. Securing safe, legal abortion and strengthening access to contraception through the Reproductive Health Act and the Comprehensive Contraception Coverage Act are necessary protections considering the continuous federal attempts to erode access to essential reproductive health care. While progress has been made to reduce the shaming and stigmatizing of women for their reproductive health care decision, the battle to control women’s bodies continues.” 

Statement from Dr. Leana Wen, President, Planned Parenthood Federation of America:

"In the face of relentless attacks, we thank Governor Cuomo and the New York State Legislature for taking immediate action and showing what states can do to protect women’s health and rights. This law makes crystal clear that abortion is standard medical care. That women’s health care is health care, and that health care must be a fundamental human right. Lawmakers in statehouses around the country should look to New York as an example. Everyone deserves the opportunity to control their own lives, including if and when to become a parent. Now is the time for us to unite and to keep fighting for every person’s right to access safe, legal abortion.”

History:

New York State legalized abortion back in 1970, three years before the U.S. Supreme Court did so nationally through Roe v. Wade, and New Yorkers consistently supported abortion access in the succeeding years. However, the state failed to update its abortion law, leaving providers and women without full protection. New York advocates lobbied for over a decade to mirror Roe in state law only to hit a roadblock in the state Senate. The Reproductive Health Act (RHA) was originally introduced in 2007 as the “Reproductive Health and Privacy Protection Act," a program bill issued by Governor Elliot Spitzer and subsequently introduced by Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins. Now, with a new pro-reproductive health majority elected to the Senate, this long-overdue legislation finally passed both houses.

The RHA accomplishes three important things:

  • Recognizes that abortion is health care, not a crime, by moving the regulation of abortion care into the public health law where it belongs.
  • Brings the protections of Roe into state law by ensuring that New Yorkers can access needed care throughout pregnancy when their health or life is endangered, or their pregnancy is not viable.
  • Clarifies that trained health care providers acting within their scope of practice can provide abortion care. This ensures that more New Yorkers have access to early and safe abortion care.

The Senate also passed the Comprehensive Contraception Coverage Act (A 585-A Cahill/S 659-A Salazar), strengthening contraceptive access; and the Boss Bill (A 584 Jaffee/S 660 Metzger), preventing employers from retaliating against employees based on their personal reproductive health care decisions.

Thanks to the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) which requires insurers to cover contraception for women with no cost-sharing, more New Yorkers have been able to access affordable birth control. The Comprehensive Contraception Coverage Act (CCCA) was introduced in 2015, to codify these important coverage provisions in New York law - and to build upon them. The CCCA also provides gender parity by requiring coverage for male contraception and improves access to over-the-counter emergency contraception. New York has a long history of protecting individuals from discrimination in the workplace. Decisions about pregnancy, using contraception, and other personal health matters should also be protected under the law. Thanks to the Boss Bill, New Yorkers won’t have to fear discrimination or retaliation for their personal reproductive health care decisions.

Abortion Facts:

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Planned Parenthood Empire State Acts is a non-profit, statewide organization dedicated to protecting and expanding access to a full range of reproductive and sexual health care services. It represents New York’s Planned Parenthood affiliates and works to protect and expand access to reproductive health care for all New Yorkers.