New York Must Lead the Way to Protect Women's Reproductive Rights

Pro-choice activists hold placards during a rally outside of the Supreme Court January 23, 2012 in Washington, DC. Activists
Pro-choice activists hold placards during a rally outside of the Supreme Court January 23, 2012 in Washington, DC. Activists on both sides of the abortion issue are rallying on the 39th anniversary of the landmark Roe vs Wade case. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

By Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, Council Member Julissa Ferreras and Council Member Jessica Lappin

In light of egregious anti-choice laws being proposed around the country as we just passed the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, there is no time more critical than now to demonstrate our steadfast support for women's equality and their right to choose.

We wholeheartedly support the plans of Governor Andrew Cuomo and elected officials, such as State Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Member Deborah Glick, who are working tirelessly to advance women's rights and protections.

While New York lawmakers are heading in the right direction, sadly, legislators from other parts of the country are moving backwards, proposing new laws that are an affront to all women.

Let's look at Virginia, where a slew of GOP lawmakers are crafting bills to restrict women's access to abortion and birth control. One bill, by State Senator Thomas A. Garrett, would prevent Medicaid from subsidizing abortion services for low-income women in cases where a doctor has determined that a baby would be born with a debilitating physical defect or mental deficiency. Three other bills would permit insurance providers to deny women contraception coverage. And just last week, Governor Bob McDonnell green lit measures that could force the shutdown of numerous clinics.

It seems unbelievable that 40 years after Roe v. Wade, we're still fighting for a woman's right to choose. It's inconceivable that we're still trying to convince anti-choice lawmakers and groups that reproductive health decisions are healthcare decisions, plain and simple. And it's unconscionable that we still have to say "no" to those who continue to play roulette with women's reproductive health.

However, we are undeterred. And are working in New York to ensure that a woman's constitutionally guaranteed right to choose is protected. At a time when a proliferation of proposals threaten to erode women's reproductive rights, it is vital that New York State lead the way.