New York Passes Historic Abortion Legislation

Guest Commentary

Volume 119, No. 3March, 2019

Laura McQuade

Laura McQuaid

Laura McQuade is the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of New York City. The opinions of guest commentaries in Allegro do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the staff, members or officers of Local 802. To submit a guest commentary or a letter to the editor, send an e-mail to Allegro editor Mikael Elsila.

March is Women’s History Month and Planned Parenthood of New York City celebrates this year’s historic passage of three critical pieces of legislation that secure and expand New Yorkers’ access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care and protect their right to make their own personal decisions about their health, futures and lives.

With passage of the Reproductive Health Act, the Comprehensive Contraceptive Coverage Act and the Boss Bill, New York can finally grow to be a model of what sexual and reproductive health care should be, especially with mounting attacks on our health and rights from Washington. We are thrilled to see our legislation catch up with our progressive values in building the state our communities can thrive in.

New York State legalized abortion in 1970, three years before the U.S. Supreme Court did nationally through the Roe v. Wade  decision, and New Yorkers consistently supported abortion access in the following years. However, the state failed to update its abortion law, leaving providers and New Yorkers without full protection. New York activists lobbied for over a decade for state law to mirror Roe, only to hit a roadblock in the State Senate. Now, with a new pro-sexual and reproductive health majority elected to the Senate, this long-overdue legislation finally passed both houses.

The November 2018 elections secured a solid sexual and reproductive health and rights majority in the New York State Senate for the first time in decades. The new legislative victories are a direct result of New Yorkers electing leaders, to join our existing elected leaders, who share the values that we all hold dear. We can’t wait to see what else our champions in Albany accomplish for our communities this session.

The Reproductive Health Act accomplishes three important things:

  • Recognizes that abortion is health care, not a crime, by moving abortion law from criminal law to public health law where it belongs.
  • Brings the protections of Roe v. Wade into state law by ensuring that New Yorkers can access needed care throughout pregnancy when their health or life is endangered, or their pregnancy is not viable.
  • Clarifies that trained health care providers acting within their scope of practice can provide abortion care. This ensures that more New Yorkers have access to early and safe abortion care.

Since 1916, we have been an advocate for and provider of sexual and reproductive health services and education for New Yorkers. Providing more than 100,000 patient visits annually, our health care centers in Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens and Staten Island offer sexual and reproductive health services, including gynecological care, birth control, cancer screening, pregnancy testing, abortion, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, HIV prevention, testing and counseling, transgender hormone therapy and vasectomy. Through a threefold mission of clinical services, education, and advocacy, we bring better health and more fulfilling lives to each new generation of New Yorkers. As a voice for reproductive freedom, we support legislation and policies to ensure that all New Yorkers will have access to the full range of reproductive health care services and information.

Planned Parenthood of New York City remains committed to our mission of building a world where all people have access to the health care and education they need so that they can build the families and futures they want and deserve. The work of our compassionate and highly skilled health center staff makes this possible, and ensures the communities we serve get the best care possible, every day – no matter what.