Attorney General James takes action to expand abortion access

New York Attorney General Letitia James, State Senator Cordell Cleare, and Assemblymember Jessica González-Rojas announced new legislation to establish a state program that would provide financial resources to abortion providers in New York. The Reproductive Freedom and Equity Program would provide funding for abortion providers and non-profit organizations to help increase access to care, funding for uncompensated and uninsured abortion care, and providing resources to support the needs of individuals accessing abortion care. If the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade in the coming weeks, the fundamental federal right to abortion will be eliminated, curtailing the ability of people across the United States to access safe and legal abortions. The Reproductive Freedom and Equity Program would support access to abortion for low-income New Yorkers and would also provide financial support for the influx of people coming to New York from other states that ban abortion.  

As states have passed laws restricting access to abortion, the number of people traveling to New York for care has already grown. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2019, nine percent or 7,000 of the abortion procedures performed in New York were for people from out of state. If Roe v. Wade is overturned, that number is likely to increase to more than 32,000 procedures a year from individuals traveling from only Ohio and Pennsylvania to New York, according to the Guttmacher Institute. There are currently 22 states that have laws or constitutional amendments that already exist that would allow them to ban abortion if Roe is overturned or weakened. There are an additional four states that are likely to ban abortion in the absence of federal protections. These 26 states are home to more than 40 million women of reproductive age. 

“We know what happens when women are unable to control their own bodies and make their own choices and we will not go back to those dark times,” said Attorney General James. “New York must lead the fight to keep abortion safe and accessible for all who seek it and this legislation spearheaded by State Senator Cleare and Assemblymember González-Rojas will ensure that low-income New Yorkers and people from states that ban abortion have access to the care they need and deserve. No matter what happens in the weeks to come, New York will always fight to protect our right to make decisions about our own bodies and expand access to this critical and lifesaving care.” 

The legislation announced and originally called for by Attorney General James last year, seeks a dedicated Reproductive Freedom and Equity Program within the New York State Department of Health (DOH) that would provide funding to abortion providers and non-profit organizations to grow the capacity of providers and meet present and future care needs. The program would provide funding for uncompensated abortion care regardless of a patient’s ability to pay for care or their insurance status. Finally, the program seeks to address the abortion care needs of individuals from outside of New York by awarding grant funds to non-profit organizations that provide support to individuals that travel to New York. To protect the privacy of the individuals seeking care, the legislation prohibits the state from tracking the personal information of patients through the providers that receive funds from the program. 

“Health care is a fundamental human right and abortion is an essential aspect of women’s health care,” said State Senator Cordell Cleare. “I am proud to sponsor new legislation — The Reproductive Freedom and Equity Program — that will ensure that in New York we proactively protect, support, and fund all aspects of women’s health care including comprehensive abortion services. We will not be subject to the arbitrary whims of a politicized Supreme Court nor can we fund health care services via private fundraising — our women deserve better, and justice and equity demand it!”   

“One of our greatest fears in generations is coming true: The Supreme Court will overrule Roe v. Wade,” said Assemblymember Jessica González-Rojas. “Millions who live in states hostile to abortion access will look to other states for that care. New York must be a leader at this moment and prepare for the impending need. That is why I’m proud to have introduced legislation to create the Reproductive Freedom and Equity Fund, which will help address this need by providing funding to providers and addressing the practical needs of patients. I am honored to stand with our Attorney General Letitia James in calling on all of my elected colleagues to support it, for it to pass, and be signed into law. Most importantly, I’m asking that we invest the necessary resources to support our sisters and siblings across this nation. Our communities need real action by our state and this fund will ensure that New York is a safe access state when the Supreme Court has failed us.” 

“I want to thank Attorney General James, Senator Cleare, and Assembly Member Gonzalez-Rojas okay good for continuing New York state’s role as a as a leader in ensuring access to abortion and reproductive health care,” said State Senator Liz Krueger. At this critical moment New York must ensure access both to New Yorkers and refugees from other states who are being denied their basic rights.” 

“When it comes to reproductive rights, the Supreme Court has indicated that it’s going to fail American women,” said Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn. “But, where the Supreme Court fails, New York will not. This legislation will say we respect you, no matter who you are, no matter what your skin color, or what faith you do or do not subscribe to. This legislation will say, ‘We believe you have inalienable rights, rights that cannot be superseded by your government.’ Bodily autonomy is a right for all Americans. The reasons for her decision are ultimately hers alone. To deny this choice is to deny one’s freedom and equality.” 

“Access to quality health care is a basic human right,” said Assemblymember Stefani L. Zinerman. “The Reproductive Freedom and Equity Program is a step toward establishing a system that not only supports a woman’s right to choose but also recognizes that universal health care is fundamental to the success of our democracy. Currently, there is a challenge to our country’s constitution as the highest court in the land considers ignoring the voices, blood, sweat, and tears of millions of Americans who have fought for equity in health care since the last century. There is no time like the present to charge forward with legislation that protects the rights of women and respects the needs of our humanity. Equal access to quality reproductive health care must be our highest priority.” 

“Abortion is health care, and as a maternal health nurse, I’ve seen the injustice that results when people don’t have access to reproductive health care,” said  Assemblymember Phara Souffrant Forrest. “At this moment, we must take action to support those who are most at risk because of the Supreme Court’s pending decision on Roe v. Wade. I’m proud to do sponsor the Reproductive Freedom and Equity Program so that New York state can be a beacon of reproductive justice.” 

“As people across the country face unprecedented attempts to restrict their access to critical abortion services, New York must guarantee that we not only strengthen abortion protections for our own residents but also expand our capacity to deal with the major influx of out-of-state patients expected if Roe v. Wade is overturned,” said Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou. “New York is and must remain a safe haven for abortion rights in America, and I applaud Attorney General James for taking bold action to reaffirm that truth.” 

“As we continue to fight for equal rights for all, Assembly bill A10148 will be sure to provide reproductive freedom and equity ensuring access to abortion care,” said Assemblymember Yudelka Tapia. “As a proud co-sponsor of this bill, I will stand with my colleagues in government and all agencies in this fight, that is going on around the country. I thank Attorney General James for bringing this fight to the forefront, and look forward in fighting for women’s rights and their right to choose.” 

“With Roe v. Wade under attack and facing potential reversal by the Supreme Court, we must continue to take action that ensures access to safe abortion and supports organizations that help serve people’s reproductive health care needs,” said New York City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams. “Establishing this new fund will support individuals’ increased access to abortion care in key circumstances where insurance coverage cannot be used by a provider or there is an inability for the patient to pay. I strongly support the Reproductive Freedom and Equity Program, and thank Attorney General Letitia James, Senator Cordell Cleare, and Assemblymember Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas for their leadership.” 

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