New York Lawmakers Step Up Fight For Reproductive Rights

Sep 13, 2021
In The News

Governor Kathy Hochul, joined by Senator Gillibrand, elected leaders, and advocates, makes an announcement on New York's response to Texas abortion ban. Don Pollard / Governor’s Office

Governor Kathy Hochul, joined by Senator Gillibrand, elected leaders, and advocates, makes an announcement on New York's response to Texas abortion ban. Don Pollard / Governor’s Office


New York State’s top elected officials joined forces on Monday to send a pointed message about their collective support for women’s reproductive healthcare rights both in New York and across the nation.

Governor Kathy Hochul joined Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, along with dozens of other elected officials, in front of the Women's Rights Pioneers Monument in Central Park to pledge solidarity with the women in Texas who are now subject to one of the nation’s most restrictive abortion access laws. They also committed to doing more on the state and federal level to restore their rights and protect abortion access.

“There was unfinished business when the Reproductive Health Act was passed in 2019,” Hochul said, taking a not-so-subtle swipe at her predecessor. “Now that I’m in charge, there will be no more delays in getting the regulations out.”

The RHA codifies into state law protections granted under Roe v. Wade to ensure women in New York can access abortions through 24 weeks of pregnancy, and beyond in circumstances where the health of the mother is at risk or the fetus is not viable. The law also makes clear which healthcare professionals can provide abortion care.

Hochul said the state plans to post a clear “Patients’ Bill of Rights,” online and in health care offices, supplemented by public service information. She said she was responding, in part, to confusion she has heard from providers about what they should be doing. The governor also plans to make additional announcements about regulations related to the Reproductive Health Act in the coming days.

On the federal level, Gillibrand said it was vital to see the passage of legislation including the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would codify Roe. v Wade into federal law and possibly supersede more restrictive state laws. Gillibrand said passage would be an uphill battle, and may first require filibuster reform to get it approved. Signaling her position on another controversial issue, Gillibrand stressed: “I fully support filibuster reform to pass reproductive freedom in the U.S. Senate.”

Gillibrand also called on federal lawmakers to repeal the Hyde Amendment, a more than four-decade-old law that prevents federal Medicaid funds from being used to pay for abortion care except if the mother’s life is at risk or the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest and has a disproportionate impact on low-income women.

Given the heightened debate over abortion access since the United States Supreme Court chose not to intervene to stop the Texas law, the governor also sent a letter to Facebook urging the social media giant to actively scrub misinformation from its platform as it relates to abortion laws and availability across the country.

The urgency of the moment for those fighting for women’s healthcare was underscored by the dozens of elected leaders and advocates who joined Hochul and Gillibrand for this event, the second one Hochul has held in less than two weeks. Doctors and healthcare providers were among those who stood shoulder to shoulder pledging to keep up the fight for women’s healthcare..

Pascale Bernard of Planned Parenthood of Greater New York said their call centers in Texas have turned into “crisis centers.”

“Women are calling, they are fearful for their lives. They don’t know what to do,” she said, describing women forced to contemplate leaving the state to obtain an abortion. Bernard said the women in New York would keep up the fight for women across the country, refusing to let healthcare access get rolled back, adding, “Texas: we got you.”