FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 7, 2017
Contact: Christie Petrone, 646-520-3504, cpetrone@nirhealth.org

ALBANY, NY – The National Institute for Reproductive Health; the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, District II; the New York Civil Liberties Union; and Planned Parenthood joined a diverse coalition of doctors, patients, volunteers and concerned New Yorkers at the capitol today to urge the New York State Senate to pass two bills that safeguard access to essential reproductive health care, the Comprehensive Contraception Coverage Act (CCCA) (S3668 Bonacic, A1378 Cahill) and the Reproductive Health Act (RHA) (S2796 Krueger, A1748 Glick).

The coalition delivered more than 50,000 signed petitions to Senate leadership from New Yorkers demanding that both bills be brought to the floor for a vote before the legislative session ends on June 21. Galvanized by threats to health care and reproductive rights from lawmakers at the federal level, the coalition demanded access to contraception and urgent fixes to New York’s outdated abortion law.

“As someone who has benefited so much from Planned Parenthood’s affordable services, it’s a shame that right now the White House is treating health care like a luxury,” said Planned Parenthood New York patient Raquel Friedman Vargas. “We all know that health care is a necessity. We know that contraception is a necessity. Millions of New Yorkers rely on contraception to lead healthy lives, and achieve their dreams. If New York were to pass the CCCA right now, we would protect one of the most important gains we made through Obamacare: access to affordable contraception.”

“I was 32 weeks pregnant when I found out my baby would never be able to breathe and would not survive,” said patient and advocate Erika Christensen. “New York is recognized for being a progressive state, but it would have forced me to carry a doomed pregnancy and watch my baby choke for air and die. I had to fly to Colorado and pay a fortune to get the care that was right for me, to protect my health and allow our baby a merciful end. The RHA will help New Yorkers who find themselves in circumstances like mine to get the health care that they need right here, not thousands of miles away.”

The CCCA requires insurers to cover contraception without a co-payment. Since contraception requires both access and consistency to be effective, the CCCA allows for a 12-month supply at a time. While emergency contraception already is available in pharmacies over the counter, the CCCA improves timely access by allowing insurance to cover it without an appointment with a health care provider. A number of states – California, Illinois, Maryland, Vermont and Virginia – already have strengthened the federal requirements of the Affordable Care Act through similar contraceptive equity bills.

The RHA codifies the protections of Roe v. Wade in state law. Acknowledging that abortion care is health care, it removes the regulation of abortion from the criminal code and places it in the public health law. In accordance with Roe, the RHA ends New York’s criminalization of abortion later in pregnancy when a woman’s health is at risk or when a fetus is not viable. The RHA also clarifies that trained and qualified advance practice clinicians, within their scope of practice, can provide early and safe abortion care.

New York has a legacy of protecting women’s health and rights, but the state has lagged in recent years. New York was one of the first states to legalize abortion care in 1970, three years before the Roe decision. But it has not updated its abortion law since. Prior attempts to pass the RHA and CCCA in New York stalled while other states enacted similar legislation. Both bills now remain in senate committees.

Coalition advocates warn that both bills are urgently needed in the face of President Trump’s agenda. The administration is focused on decimating the Affordable Care Act and regulations that guarantee contraception coverage. The president has expanded the Global Gag Rule and stated a desire to see Roe reversed, the legality of abortion instead decided by individual states and the defunding of Planned Parenthood.

“No New York woman should be denied basic health care coverage or access to contraceptives,” said Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins. “With Donald Trump in the White House and a conservative-leaning U.S. Supreme Court, New York State must step up and take action. I applaud the efforts of Senator Liz Krueger and Assemblymembers Kevin Cahill and Deborah Glick for leading this fight. I urge the Senate Republican/IDC Majority to finally bring these vital bills to the full Senate for a vote.”

“I have always supported women’s health and wellness, and I’m proud to sponsor the Comprehensive Contraception Act, legislation that will provide essential health benefits to women, including equal contraceptive coverage,” said Senator John Bonacic.

“New York has long been a leader in respecting women and their right to determine when to become mothers,” said Assemblymember Deborah Glick. “It is time the State Senate joined the State Assembly in renewing this commitment to New York women.”

“As this year’s legislative session draws to a close, each day that passes the State Senate places the full measure of health care for all New Yorkers at risk,” said Assemblymember Kevin Cahill. “Every day brings new action taken by the federal government that threatens the traditional role of America’s leadership in promoting quality of life, whether it is by access to healthcare, combating climate change or promoting diplomacy abroad. This is a time where we as New Yorkers need to take a stand. Our constituents can no longer rely on federal protections to provide for our citizens and especially when it is about reproductive rights. The public has spoken on this issue, the Assembly has taken a stand and now it is time for the Senate to vote.”

“New Yorkers should have the freedom and opportunity to make their own decisions about their health and their families,” said Senator Elizabeth Krueger. “With reproductive rights and access under attack from Washington in a way we haven’t seen in decades, it’s more important than ever that New York regain its position as a leader in reproductive freedom and pass the Reproductive Health Act and the Comprehensive Contraception Coverage Act before the end of this session. New York families are facing irreparable harm – it’s time to pass these bills.”

“With federal protections for abortion and contraception under attack, the rights and health of New York women are in serious jeopardy,” said National Institute for Reproductive Health President Andrea Miller. “The Senate must act now to enshrine our constitutional right to abortion, protect health care providers and women who end their own pregnancies from prosecution, and codify New York women’s and men’s right to access to the full range of affordable contraception, regardless of what happens in Washington, D.C. We urge the Senate to pass the Reproductive Health Act and the Comprehensive Contraception Coverage Act without delay.”

“At a time when the AHCA turns back the clock on women’s health and threatens access to essential health care services, New York needs to ensure that the women of this state have full access to reproductive health services, including access to contraception and abortion,” said American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, District II Executive Director Christa R. Christakis. “Comprehensive contraception care and safe, legal abortion are critical components of women’s health care. ACOG District II thanks the legislative sponsors for their leadership in ensuring women’s reproductive health care decisions are protected in New York State and urges the Senate to pass the CCCA and RHA.”

“The New York State Senate must not sit on its hands while the Trump administration pushes ahead with its full-scale assault on women’s ability to control their own bodies, their health and their reproductive destiny,” said NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman. “The Reproductive Health Act and the Comprehensive Contraception Coverage Act are critical to safeguarding women’s health, dignity and equal rights in New York.”

“As the federal government continues to attack reproductive health care, our state must step up to protect us from attempts to roll back the progress we’ve made to ensure accessible and affordable reproductive health care for New Yorkers,” said Planned Parenthood Empire State Acts President and CEO Robin Chappelle Golston. “The State Senate must pass the Comprehensive Contraception Coverage Act and the Reproductive Health Act now.”

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The National Institute for Reproductive Health (NIRH) builds power at the state and local levels to change public policy, galvanize public support, and normalize women’s decisions about abortion and contraception.