January 23, 2013
Contact: Tara Sweeney, 917-488-0094, [email protected]

New York City Council Passes Resolution Supporting Access
to Full Reproductive Health Care Options

Council Calls on U.S. Congress to Abolish Laws Withholding Federal Insurance Coverage for Abortion

In honor of the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, today the New York City Council passed Resolution 1635A, calling on the U.S. Congress to reinstate coverage for comprehensive reproductive health care services, including abortion. Current federal policies and a host of copycat state laws withhold insurance coverage for this medical care from women who qualify for government-sponsored insurance programs.

“Forty years ago, Roe v. Wade recognized a woman’s right to choose abortion, but politicians have curtailed coverage for this care thereby undermining Roe’s promise of protecting women’s health and enabling us to be more equal players in society, explained Andrea Miller, President of the National Institute for Reproductive Health and NARAL Pro-Choice New York. “Withholding coverage from women who need it most reflects a callous attempt by extremists to make this care inaccessible because they have been unable to make abortion illegal outright. Without access to safe, legal abortion care, the rights recognized in Roe ring hollow.

Current federal policy, in the form of the Hyde Amendment, withholds abortion coverage from women who qualify for Medicaid. Federal policy also withholds abortion coverage from women in the military, federal employees, Peace Corps volunteers, women in federal prison, and Native Americans covered by Indian Health Service. Congress also restricts the District of Columbia from using its own funds to provide abortion coverage for low-income women.

“A woman’s right to make her own health care decisions without government interference should not depend on her economic circumstances or what form of insurance she uses,Miller said. “New York City’s Resolution 1635A is just the kind of bold, proactive step that cities and municipal bodies can and do take to protect the health and wellbeing of the women and families living in their localities.

The National Institute for Reproductive Health is an innovative policy, communications, and education organization. One of the Institute’s signature programs the Urban Initiative for Reproductive Health was launched in 2008 to enable advocates and local elected officials and agencies in cities across the country to establish proactive policies and positions that improve access to the full range of reproductive health care services, including abortion. Over the last five years, in 30 cities ranging from Austin to Baltimore, Denver to Pittsburgh, Memphis to San Francisco, the Urban Initiative has supported efforts to expose crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) deceptive practices, direct teens to youth-friendly reproductive health care, help minimize the dangerous effects of environmental toxins on women’s fertility, and more.

Working with its colleague organization, NARAL Pro-Choice New York, the Institute has helped to support innovative policy change in New York City, including ordinances to counter CPCs, improving access to women’s health clinics, and establishing comprehensive, age-appropriate sex education in schools.

“We commend the New York City Council for passing Resolution 1635A, and we look forward to working with local elected officials and agencies here and in other cities across the country to pass similar resolutions in the coming weeks and months, Miller concluded. “By standing together in support of reproductive rights and access, we can turn the tide on policies that unjustly target low-income women and their families.