As a clinician at Planned Parenthood of New York City, I know that access to a full range of sexual and reproductive health care services helps people live healthy lives and plan their futures.
But unfortunately, many of my patients feel stigmatized for even seeking out basic health care, whether it be birth control, screenings, or abortion services. Every day I see patients with fear, sadness, and shame in their eyes.
When politicians won’t stand up for reproductive rights, they’re adding to this stigma. As the Trump administration continues to attack reproductive health care, they are shaming patients from seeking—and accessing—health care that helps them lead healthy lives.
Now, the New York State Senate is adding to that damage. Year after year, they have had the opportunity to bring the Reproductive Health Act, a bill to protect abortion access, to the floor for a vote. Yet they fail to do so for no good reason.
It’s time to stop playing politics with people’s health, and to stop closing the doors on patients who need abortion services the most. Right now in New York, our abortion laws are so outdated that they have forced some women to leave the state in order to get this simple procedure.
That’s because New York State’s abortion law is not in line with Roe v. Wade, and it hasn’t been updated since it was passed in 1970. That’s almost half a century—and along with forcing women to travel out of state in some cases, our laws also criminalize abortion. Abortion should not be considered a crime. It needs to be moved from the penal code and into the public health code, where it belongs.
The RHA would protect health care providers who provide abortions, such as my colleagues and myself. It would make it clear that Advanced Practice Clinicians, Nurse Practitioners, and Physicians Assistants can provide abortion services. These providers are trained to provide these services and it is within their scope of practice and licensure. This is crucial to ensure access to abortion throughout the state.
But it’s not just about abortion care. In New York, people also continue to face barriers to the contraception they need. This cannot continue. New York State Senators must pass the Comprehensive Contraception Coverage Act. In addition to expanding insurance coverage, the CCCA will allow people to access 12 months of contraception at a time – a practice that helps promote more effective contraceptive use. The CCCA will also ease the burden of accessing over-the-counter emergency contraception – right now, at over $50 dollars, the costs are prohibitively high.
Trump vows to roll back health care access, but if New York were to pass the CCCA right now, we would protect one of the most important gains we made through Obamacare: access to affordable contraception.
I am urging New York State Senators to stand with New Yorkers right now. The RHA and CCCA cannot be delayed any longer. Abortion and contraception are critical parts of reproductive health care, and we must do all we can to protect access!
The New York State Senate only has a few more days to bring these bills to a vote, and this may be one of our only chances to pass these crucial bills.
New Yorkers need access to health care right now. There’s no more time to waste.