Assembly approves legislation protecting women’s reproductive rights

Stephon Johnson | 1/26/2017, midnight
New York State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Assembly members Kevin Cahill and Deborah Glick showed how they’ll oppose Trump—through ...
New York State Capitol Wikipedia

New York State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Assembly members Kevin Cahill and Deborah Glick showed how they’ll oppose Trump—through their own policies.

As a blowback against incoming legislation from D.C., the State Assembly recently passed the Reproductive Health Act and the Comprehensive Contraception Coverage Act to protect women’s reproductive health rights in New York State.

The RHA affirms women’s right to privacy, provides them appropriate care through their pregnancy, and protects New Yorkers from federal laws intended to limit abortion access. With the CCCA, state insurance laws will be updated to provide contraception coverage for women and men, improve the range of birth control options for women and enable patients to fill 12 months of a prescription.

“For years, we have been told by our colleagues in the Senate that these explicit state protections are not necessary because of existing federal law and Supreme Court decisions,: said Heastie during a news conference that took place before the vote. “Now more than ever, it is very clear that those federal protections are in jeopardy and that New York must uphold our legacy as a progressive leader by protecting the most fundamental right of women to make their own decisions regarding reproductive choice and family planning. In order to achieve full equality, women must have full autonomy and equal access to contraceptives.”

New York Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Donna Lieberman said Albany’s doing what’s necessary for women in the next four years.

“The Trump regime has made it unmistakably clear that they cannot be counted on to respect a woman’s ownership of her body and her destiny,” said Lieberman. “That’s why New York must act now to protect women’s rights. The State Assembly has taken an important first step to resist the Trump agenda. The Reproductive Health Act and the Comprehensive Contraception Coverage Act are both critical to safeguarding women’s health, dignity and rights in New York.”

Other elected officials chimed in on the Assembly’s actions as well. In a publicly released statement, New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman praised the State Assembly for its move to insulate the women of New York from the possible harms of the Trump administration.

“Republicans in Washington are preparing to roll back the Affordable Care Act and the fundamental contraceptive access it provides, which has allowed so many women to stay healthy and effectively plan for their future,” said Schneiderman.

Earlier this month, Schneiderman, reintroduced the Comprehensive Contraception Coverage Act to ensure the continuation and expansion of what he felt were vital contraception coverage for New Yorkers in the event that the Trump administration repeals the Affordable Care Act.

Advocacy groups also threw their support behind Heastie and company.

“These bills will offer vital advancements in access to both abortion and contraception for New York State residents,” said National Institute for Reproductive Health President Andrea Miller in a statement. “By passing these bills, the Assembly is setting the standard for how a state can protect the rights and health of its residents, especially in the face of federal efforts to dismantle access to reproductive health care.

“Changing political winds should never determine if a woman can get the contraception she needs,” stated Kelly Baden, interim senior director of U.S. Policy and Advocacy for the Center for Reproductive Rights. “All women deserve access to contraception and we are proud to support this measure.”