Women Council members also announce intention to provide city funding for abortion care and support services
City Hall, NY – In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, Speaker Adrienne Adams and the City’s first women majority New York City Council unveiled a “NYC Abortion Rights Act” legislative package to safeguard abortion and advance reproductive health care in the City. The package of laws seeks to protect women, trans, and gender non-conforming people’s access to safe abortion and reproductive healthcare in New York City, as states across the country begin to restrict access to services in response to the Supreme Court decision. The Council also announced its support, through a resolution, for a state constitutional amendment to enshrine equal rights and protection against discrimination into the state’s constitution. The state constitutional amendment would expand protected classes to include ethnicity, national origin, disability or sex including pregnancy and pregnancy outcomes, sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression, and would protect an array of civil rights, including abortion. The historic women-led Council also indicated its intention to provide funding for abortion care and support services through city budget allocations.
The Council’s proposed legislative package focuses on expanding reproductive health services across the five boroughs and protecting those seeking access to care. The bills include an expansion of language access for abortion care providers, prohibitions against abortion restrictions and interference, and increases to abortion and reproductive healthcare services. The legislative package codifies New York City’s role as a safe harbor for abortion care, protecting against attacks on reproductive health services. The various bills in the legislative package will be heard in several different Council committees over the coming days, including the Civil and Human Rights Committee, the Consumer and Worker Protection Committee, the Health Committee, and the Women and Gender Equity Committee.
In announcing its response to the Supreme Court decision, the Council, led by Speaker Adams, was represented by over a dozen of its women members, who for the first time make up the legislative body’s majority. The Council has long championed abortion access, establishing New York City’s abortion fund. The $250,000 annual allocations have helped New Yorkers and people traveling from other states to secure safe abortions in New York City.
Photos from the press conference are available here.
“The right to safe and legal abortion is a fundamental human right, and must be protected for all who seek reproductive healthcare, especially in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s dangerous decision,” said Speaker Adrienne Adams. “This package of Council legislation will help ensure the necessary protections and expanded resources to meet New Yorkers’ reproductive health needs and those of all who come to our city in need of access to care. It is also essential that the New York State Legislature pass the Equality Amendment to support enshrining key protections into our state constitution. Leaders of this Council’s historic women-majority are prepared to take significant action to protect women, trans, and gender non-conforming individuals, and this leadership is critical to expanding and protecting the rights that we rightfully deserve.”
“The United States Supreme Court’s cruel decision to overturn Roe v. Wade last week ignored nearly 50 years of legal precedent and is dangerous to the health and rights of more than 36 million Americans,” said Council Member Amanda Farías, Co-Chair of the Women’s Caucus. “People’s lives and bodies are now at the mercy of their state governments, and we know many have already restricted access to reproductive health care due to trigger laws and more will continue to do so. The laws introduced by my colleagues today seek to expand and protect women, trans, and gender expansive people’s access to safe abortion and reproductive healthcare in our City. It focuses on protection through language access, prohibitions against restrictions and interference, increased services, and codifies New York City’s role as a destination for abortion care. Supporting abortion care will now be even more necessary than ever before as an estimated 190,000 to 280,000 people from other states, will be relying on New York. Today we express full support of the Equality Amendment to the NYS Constitution – everyone must be protected. We are here as the first Women Majority Council setting the example and tone for City’s across America by championing the first ever abortion fund that is paid with municipal dollars and pushing our state constitution to expand its protective language to include ethnicity, national origin, disability or sex including pregnancy and pregnancy outcomes, sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression, and would protect an array of civil rights, including abortion.”
The proposed legislative package is as follows:
· Introduction 458 (Sponsored by Speaker Adrienne Adams): Requiring the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) to maintain language access services for abortion providers.
· Introduction 465 (Sponsored by Council Member Tiffany Cabán): Requiring DOHMH to report on the provision of medical services related to reproductive health care.
· Introduction 466 (Sponsored by Council Member Tiffany Cabán, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and Council Member Shahana Hanif): Prohibiting the use of City resources to enforce abortion restrictions.
· Introduction 474 (Sponsored by Council Member Shahana Hanif): Requiring the Commission on Human Rights (CCHR) to conduct a public information and outreach campaign about the Access to Reproductive Health Care Facilities Law (LL 24 of 2009) as well as the protections available in the Human Rights Law (HRL) and right to bring a civil action under the HRL.
· Introduction 475 (Sponsored by Council Member Shahana Hanif, Council Member Tiffany Cabán, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, Council Member Farah Louis, Council Member Carlina Rivera, Council Member Crystal Hudson and Council Member Amanda Farías): Creating a private right of action related to interference with medical care.
· Introduction 506 (Sponsored by Council Member Carlina Rivera, at request of Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson): Requiring the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP) to report information on pregnancy services centers in the city and implement an information campaign on such centers
· Introduction 507 (Sponsored by Council Member Carlina Rivera, Council Member Jennifer Gutiérrez and Council Member Rita Joseph): Requiring DOHMH to make mifepristone and misoprostol available free of charge at its health centers, health stations, health clinics and other health facilities.
· Resolution 195 (Sponsored by Council Member Gale Brewer and Council Member Julie Menin): Calling upon the New York State Legislature to pass, and the Governor to sign, The Reproductive Freedom and Equity Program (S.9078/A.10148A), which would establish a grant program to provide funding to New York abortion providers and non-profit organizations to increase access to abortion care.
· Resolution 196 (Sponsored by Council Member Selvena Brooks-Powers): Calling upon the New York State Legislature to pass, and the Governor to sign, S.9137/A.10357, which would allow out of state physicians to provide reproductive health services in this state while awaiting full licensure.
· Resolution 197 (Sponsored by Council Member Tiffany Cabán, Council Member Marjorie Velázquez, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and Council Member Crytal Hudson): Declaring New York City a safe city for all those in need of abortion-related care.
· Resolution 200 (Sponsored by Council Member Julie Menin): Declaring January 22, 2023 as Roe v. Wade Day in the City of New York to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the landmark United States Supreme Court decision.
· Resolution 242 (Sponsored by Council Member Julie Menin): Resolution calling upon the State Legislature to pass and the Governor to sign A.10468/S.8797B, proposing an amendment to Article 1 of the New York State Constitution, in relation to equality of rights and protection against discrimination.
· Resolution 245 (Public Advocate Jumaane Williams): Calling on the United States Senate to pass and the President to sign the Women’s Health Protection Act.
In New York State, abortion is protected by state law under the Reproductive Health Act. It codified abortion in state law, treating it as health care.
“The overturning of Roe vs. Wade was a watershed moment in American history; dismantling almost 50 years of legal precedent in one sweeping judgment,” said Majority Whip Selvena Brooks-Powers. “I, as a member of the first majority-female New York City Council, am honored to work alongside my colleagues to advance Reso. 196, and the “NYC Abortion Rights Act” legislative package that protects women’s bodily autonomy in New York City and funds reproductive healthcare, abortion care, and supportive services. We must do all we can in this legislative body to ensure Women’s Rights!”
“Banning abortion only bans safe abortion and condemns women to suffering, hardship, and possible death. Generations have fought for autonomy over women’s bodies and this ruling pushes the United States backwards – and could threaten other privacy rights that were Court-established precedent,” said Council Member Gale A. Brewer. “States will now be divided into abortion deserts and abortion havens. New York will remain a haven- having codified Roe into law – but we must stand in solidarity with those living in abortion deserts, deprived of access to safe reproductive health services.”
“I thank Speaker Adams for her leadership as the Supreme Court has turned back the clock 100 years on women’s rights,” said Council Member Julie Menin. “To think that our daughters have less rights than we had is unconscionable. For women without abortion access, they need hope and they need our help. Our message is clear: New York will stand firm to once again be a safe haven and beacon for people who most need access to abortion. The City Council will do all in its power to protect women and their health care rights.”