Executive order expands access to contraception in NY ahead of Supreme Court fight

Photo courtesy of the Governor’s Office

In an executive order issued Monday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that health insurers doing business in New York must cover FDA-approved contraception drugs and methods, including emergency contraception known as “Plan B,” which can be taken up to three days after conception.

The executive order also permits a woman to fill 12 months of a prescribed contraceptive at one time, removing the previously required three-month trial period. Insurers will also be required to cover voluntary sterilization procedures for women.

The order comes as President Donald Trump and Congress look to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court. Trump has nominated Judge Brett Kavanagh, a conservative federal appeals judge who previously worked for President George W. Bush.

Many fear that a conservative court could overturn abortion protections under Roe v. Wade, and the governor said New York is trying to “protect itself” against future court decisions regarding abortion rights.

Cuomo has also repeatedly asked the state Senate to return to Albany to pass the Reproductive Health Act, which would, among other things, recodify state abortion laws under the health code instead of the penal code. The Assembly has passed legislation to codify the protections of Roe v. Wade for the last six years, including during the 2018 legislative session.

“In the face of this federal assault, New York is going to protect itself because this state has always been the progressive capital of the nation,” Cuomo said. “This is the time to fight back. This is the time to resist. This is the time to make your voice heard. This is the time where every New Yorker has to say, you’re not taking women’s right to reproductive rights away. We’re going to protect ourselves because this is the state that has always stood up for what’s right.”

Under the executive order signed this week, insurers will be required to publish an easily accessible, up-to-date, accurate and complete list of all covered contraceptive drugs, devices and other products on their formulary drug lists, including any tiering structure and any restrictions on the manner in which a drug may be obtained.

A copy of the proposed regulations can be found here.