Lawmakers urge Senate to preserve reproductive rights in New York

Gazette photo by Thomas Giery Pudney
Assemblyman Kevin Cahill, D-Kingston, speaks on the importance of protecting women’s healthcare during a time of national uncertainty. The Senate has 2 weeks left in session to take up legislation that ensures women in New York have access to reproductive care.


In light of President Donald Trump signing an anti-abortion law that allows states to refuse funding for Planned Parenthood, a group of state lawmakers are pressing the Senate to pass two bills they say will preserve women’s health services here in New York.
With just days left in the current session, the legislators say the situation is urgent.

“New York will always be a progressive state,” said Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins, D-Yonkers. “We are being threatened by an administration that does not believe in health insurance and contraception for women. We need to reaffirm that women have the rights to their bodies.”

The Comprehensive Contraception Coverage Act (S.3668/A.1378) would ensure that New Yorkers have readily available access to contraception by requiring health insurance policies to cover all FDA-approved forms of contraceptives and devices.

The Reproductive Health Act (S.2796/A.1748) would provide access to the proper reproductive services such as Planned Parenthood.

In 1970, the state of New York legalized the right to abortion in certain circumstances, which guaranteed women the right to make decisions in regards to their own pregnancies and bodies.

Just three years later, in Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court of the United States made the decision that this fundamental right is protected by the United States Constitution.

However, with New York state abortion law having not been changed since that landmark case, the passage of the CCCA would update certain provisions that have become antiquated over time.

The bill would allow other medical professionals besides doctors to perform abortions, would guarantee the right to an abortion within 24 weeks of commencement or when a mother’s life or health is at risk, as well as removing abortion from New York State Penal Law.

The Reproductive Health Act would also remove the “crime of abortion” terminology from state and local laws.

These two bills are high priorities for Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins, D-Yonkers; Assemblyman Kevin Cahill, D-Kingston; Assemblywoman Deborah Glick, D-Greenwich Village; and Sen. Liz Krueger, D-Manhattan, who spoke outside the Senate Chamber June 7.

Both Assembly bills passed in January and lawmakers say they are confident they would pass the Senate as well, if they are allowed to make it out of committee for a floor vote.

“John Flanagan, bring these to the floor for a vote or get the hell out of the way,” said Senator Krueger.

Assemblyman Cahill says it is necessary to protect reproductive health by in New York, regardless of what is going on in the nation’s capital.

“Forty-five members of Assembly are women, is it any surprise these have passed Assembly?” Cahill asked. “However, nothing can be passed if it doesn’t come to a floor vote.”

“We are working hard to make this happen this session,” concluded Cahill. “We need to make New York a progressive state again.”

The CCCA has been with the Insurance Committee and the Reproductive Health Act has been with the Health Committee since January.