- By New York State Governor's Office
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today fulfilled his promise to sign into law the Reproductive Health Act, a key component of the 2019 Justice Agenda, within the first 30 days of the new legislative session. The Reproductive Health Act protects women's reproductive rights by ensuring New Yorkers can make personal healthcare decisions and medical professionals can provide crucial services without fear of criminal penalty. The legislation codifies Roe v. Wade into New York State law.
"A woman's power to decide whether she will give birth or not is the single greatest determinant of whether she is healthy or not, educated or not, works outside the home or not, and how long she will live," said Women's Rights Activist Gloria Steinem. "This power has been taken away by patriarchy and racism, sometimes disguised as religion, yet it is our most basic democratic right. I'm thankful to Cuomo and the New York State legislature for passing the Reproductive Health Act. It will codify Roe v. Wade in New York State law, guarantee women's right to make decisions about our own bodies, and help create a future in which every child has the right to be born loved and wanted."
The Reproductive Health Act amends the public health law, de-criminalizing women's access to abortions and protecting the doctors who perform them.
"In the face of a federal government intent on rolling back Roe v. Wade and women's reproductive rights, I promised that we would pass this critical legislation within the first 30 days of the new session - and we got it done," Cuomo said. "Today we are taking a giant step forward in the hard-fought battle to ensure a woman's right to make her own decisions about her own personal health, including the ability to access an abortion. With the signing of this bill, we are sending a clear message that whatever happens in Washington, women in New York will always have the fundamental right to control their own body."
In the face of Washington's assault on women's rights, including access to all health care options and guaranteed coverage of emergency contraception and other contraceptive drugs, the Governor has taken action to counter the federal government's reversals. In July 2018 the Governor signed an Executive Order directing the Department of Financial Services and Department of Health to administer regulations to insurance providers requiring them to cover over the counter emergency contraception, all other contraceptive drugs, devices or other products for women, and to provide 12 months of contraceptive at one time, all without co-insurance, co-pays or deductibles.
Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said, "New York once led the way on choice and women's rights. Unfortunately for years, barriers to women's rights were put up, and our state has fallen behind. Today, we are tearing those barriers down and we are now leading the way again. I commend Cuomo, my colleague Speaker Heastie, and both bill sponsors Senator Liz Krueger and Assemblywoman Deborah Glick for taking historic action and leading New York State forward in the fight for women's rights. It is time for New York to again serve as a progressive beacon to the nation."
"As keepers of the torch for women's rights that was first ignited in New York State back in 1848, we have a moral responsibility to continue this fight today," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "Thanks to an election that saw record numbers of women elected to office, I presided over the State Senate and we finally enacted the Reproductive Health Act to protect the rights of women across our great state. We act today on the anniversary of the groundbreaking decision of Roe v. Wade and recognize the threat we face from a Supreme Court determined to overturn protections that have been in place for over four decades. Today is an historic day for women in New York, and I'm proud that we are working every day to ensure full equality and safety for women."