Reproductive Rights in New York: Governor Cuomo’s Pink Smoke and Mirrors

A Supreme Court that includes Brett Kavanaugh is almost certain to overturn Roe v. Wade and return control over abortion access to states. Hostile anti-choice legislatures have already been chipping away at our reproductive freedom, passing over 400 bills to restrict access to care within the last decade alone. Today, 58 percent of people in the United States—that’s roughly 35 million women of childbearing age—live in a state that is hostile to their reproductive health. The threat is real and the impact is massive.

With at least four states poised to automatically ban abortion outright once Roe v Wade is overturned, state elected officials have an urgent responsibility to act quickly to protect the health and wellbeing of women and trans people who need reproductive health-care services. Thankfully, many states are stepping up. In Massachusetts, lawmakers just passed the “NASTY Women Act” to protect reproductive freedom by repealing antiquated laws criminalizing abortion. In Washington state, Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee signed a measure requiring insurers who cover maternity care to also cover abortion and birth control. And in New Mexico, lawmakers say they are committed to overturning a current state law criminalizing abortion in the next legislative session.

Now, we turn to New York, where I currently live. Data for Progress’ 2018 analysis of the 2016 Cooperative Congressional Election Studies survey shows that 73 percent of New Yorkers believe abortion should always be allowed—”always.” This leads us to extrapolate from voter file analysis that 80 percent to 90 percent of New Yorkers consider themselves pro-choice at some level. On that fact alone, I am appalled that reproductive health in New York is not fully protected in state law. New York should be the most progressive state for reproductive freedom, yet it is not.

Abortion is protected in a limited way by a 1970 law in the criminal code. But in 2018, women in New York still have to leave the state for certain types of abortion care, putting their health at risk. Meanwhile, Black women are 12 times more likely to die from childbirth in New York City than white women, and the rate has been increasing for years. Most importantly, I am appalled at how our governor and state legislators are responding to this very real crisis affecting millions of their constituents.

Read more over at Rewire. News.