FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Jan. 17, 2017
Contact: Christie Petrone, 646-520-3504, cpetrone@prochoiceny.org

Assembly Passes New Bills to Preserve and Advance Women’s Rights in New York, Irrespective of Federal Efforts to Dismantle Protections

NEW YORK — The New York State Assembly took decisive action today in advancing women’s health and rights by passing both the Reproductive Health Act (RHA)(A1748)  and the Comprehensive Contraception Coverage Act (CCCA)(A1378), two unapologetically progressive pieces of legislation that would safeguard access to contraception and abortion in New York, in the face of federal efforts to dismantle protections.

“With Trump promising to appoint anti-choice justices to the Supreme Court and congressional efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act [ACA] already under way, the time is now to ensure that our state laws preserve access to abortion and contraception. It is no longer prudent to rely solely on federal protections to ensure our basic rights,” said National Institute for Reproductive Health President Andrea Miller. “While other state legislatures are continuing — and even ramping up — the assaults on reproductive rights, we are proud to see New York legislators fulfilling their obligation to guarantee that New Yorkers have the fullest protections for reproductive health care.”

The RHA would enshrine in New York state law the right to choose abortion as originally recognized in Roe v. Wade, protect health care providers who perform abortions from criminal prosecution, and regulate abortion as a public health, not a criminal, matter. Notably, it would fix a troubling gap in our current law, which prohibits providing abortion care to a woman for health reasons at any time during pregnancy. As a result, pregnant women who have serious complications would no longer be forced to leave New York in order to get the safe, legal abortion care they need.

“The New York legislature has considered updating our abortion law for many years, but there can be no more delay – with the new administration in Washington threatening to undermine federal protections for abortion, New York women need protections in New York State law,” Miller said. “We’re proud that the Assembly is on the same page. Our next goal will be the Senate.”

The CCCA would enshrine the advances of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in New York state law, including ensuring no copays for the full range of contraceptive methods, which means at least one contraceptive method from each of the 18 distinct categories recognized by the Food and Drug Administration. It would also enhance the ACA coverage by including male contraceptive options, enabling up to 12 months of contraception at a time, and allowing pharmacists to provide emergency contraception without a doctor’s visit.

Last week, Congress took the first steps toward repealing the ACA. The contraceptive coverage mandate of the ACA is among the most vulnerable provisions of the ACA. It ensures that all methods of contraception are covered without a co-pay and places reasonable limitations on the ability of employers to discriminate.

“It’s hard to overstate just how devastating an impact the loss of federal protections on access to contraception and abortion could have on the health and wellbeing of millions and millions of women and families,” said Miller. “It has never been more important for New York to preserve our rights, irrespective of what happens in Congress or the Supreme Court.”

Last year, the CCCA passed the New York Assembly but stalled in the Senate. New York was one of six states that, in 2016, considered or enacted bills to codify the ACA’s requirements into state law, making clear that insurance within the state must cover, with no cost sharing, all forms of FDA-approved contraceptive drugs and devices (as well as voluntary sterilization) and all related counseling.

“We urge the Senate, which has historically refused to vote on legislation like the RHA and the CCCA, to at last bring New York state’s outdated abortion law in line with the standard set in Roe v. Wade and preserve women’s access to contraception independent of the ACA,” said Miller.

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The National Institute for Reproductive Health works across the country to increase access to reproductive health care by changing public policy, galvanizing public support, and normalizing women’s decisions to have abortions and use contraception.