Bill strengthens and increases protection for women who seek abortion related services

City Hall, May 2, 2012 – Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, along with Council Members and local elected officials, gathered today, the day after Lobby for Life Day in Albany, to publicly express their support of the state’s Reproductive Health Act. The Reproductive Health Act, sponsored by Assembly Member Deborah Glick and State Senator Andrea Stuart-Cousins, fixes a troubling gap in New York State law that prohibits providing abortion care to a woman if she experiences serious health complications late in her pregnancy. This bill treats the regulation of abortion as an issue of public health rather than as a potential crime. Joining the Council were members of the New York City Council’s Women’s Caucus, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, New York City Comptroller John Liu, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, NARAL Pro-Choice New York, Planned Parenthood New York City, and a coalition of advocates who have come together with the Council in its support on this issue.

“We cannot continue to play roulette with women’s reproductive health,” said City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn. “Reproductive health decisions are healthcare decisions, and if I’m making a decision about getting pregnant or terminating a pregnancy then I don’t want the government on any level involved in my uterus or my vagina. It’s mine and I want the best medical people to advise me on it.”

“I urge state legislators to pass the Reproductive Health Act and guarantee women in New York the ability to make choices about their private health care decisions,” stated Council Member Julissa Ferreras, Chair of the Council’s Committee on Women’s Issues. “New York can send a powerful message to the nation that it puts a high premium on women’s health, rather than join the anti-woman agenda sweeping the nation.”

“Across our country, a woman’s constitutionally guaranteed right to choose is under attack,” said Council Member Jessica Lappin. “Now is the time for New York to stand up to make sure women can make independent choices about their health and lives.”

“Over the past year, we have witnessed an all-out assault on reproductive health care,” said Council Member Margaret Chin. “This attack on women is almost guaranteed to continue as we head into the next election cycle. Now is the time for New York State to codify reproductive rights for women under the law. Under current State law, there is no exception for late-term abortions when a woman’s health is in jeopardy, and abortion is treated as a crime, rather than issue of public health. Every pregnancy is different and every woman is different. Women must be free to make their own personal and private medical decisions. This is a bill that New Yorkers overwhelmingly support. At a time when thousands of provisions have been introduced to restrict access to abortion and contraception across our nation, it is imperative that New York State stand united and pass the Reproductive Health Act.”

“This bill will deliver a powerful message to families across our state: we won’t allow the warped debate in Washington to infringe on the rights of women in our communities,” said Public Advocate Bill de Blasio. “In the face of a national War on Women, New York can show national leadership by passing the Reproductive Health Act. I’m proud to stand with NARAL and support this critical legislation.”
“New York has always been a leader in protecting a woman’s right to choose, and now it must lead once again,” said Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer. “Let’s guarantee that a woman can safeguard her health if she faces complications late in her pregnancy. New York law doesn’t offer this protection, and it’s time to plug this loophole immediately. Let’s also allow doctors to practice without fear of prosecution: We should move language governing choice out of the criminal code and into public health law, where it belongs. Today I’m calling on state leaders to pass the Reproductive Health Act, which would enact both of these important changes. New York will always be a beacon for a woman’s right to choose – but it’s a right we cannot take for granted. We must fight for it every day.”

“Every person should have the right to make their own health care choices,” said New York City Comptroller John Liu. “Unfortunately, women in New York are denied access to the full range of health care options that are available in many other states. The Reproductive Health Act would fix a longstanding gap in New York law and would give women the choice of having an abortion, even if late in her pregnancy. And the regulation of that choice, often a difficult personal and private matter, should be addressed in our public health law, not criminal law.”

Currently, New York law states that if something went wrong in a woman’s pregnancy she wouldn’t be able to get the safe legal abortion care she needs here in New York because the abortion law was left on the criminal code when the state legalized it back in 1970. Also, New York State providers are deterred from offering the best reproductive health care due to fear of criminal prosecution. For a woman to get that care, she would be forced to travel out of state to receive it

“I am proud to stand with my pro-choice colleagues to call upon Governor Cuomo and the State Legislature to pass the Reproductive Health Act, and protect a woman’s right to choose. A woman’s medical decisions are hers to make,” stated Council Member Gale A. Brewer

“New York has a singular opportunity this year to do something no other state is doing – make crystal clear that women’s health is a priority, not a political football,” said NARAL Pro-Choice New York President Andrea Miller. “Governor Cuomo and the leaders in the Legislature have heard it from advocates, they’ve heard it from their constituents – nearly three quarters of whom want the Reproductive Health Act to become law – and starting today, they will hear it from local elected officials in every corner of the state: New Yorkers need this law, New Yorkers want this law, and the time is now to get it done.”

“New York needs the Reproductive Health Act,” said New York Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Donna Lieberman. “This important legislation not only strengthens reproductive rights, it supports equality, dignity and healthy families.”

“It is time for New York State to take a stand and help stem the tide on the assault on women’s reproductive healthcare rights. New York needs to reestablish itself as the progressive cutting edge for the protection of reproductive freedom. This is a non-controversial bill that simply guarantees a woman’s right to make her own private and personal healthcare decisions. The time for passage is now,” said Joan Malin, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of New York City.

“Seven out of 10 New York voters want the Reproductive Health Act (RHA) passed because New Yorkers hold as a core value a woman’s decision-making ability about her reproductive health care,” said Family Planning Advocates of New York State President and CEO M. Tracey Brooks. “Passing this bill in the face of national attacks on women’s health is New York’s opportunity to strengthen its legacy as a state that protects women’s health.