Assembly Passes Legislation to Protect Reproductive Health Service Providers and Safeguard the Right to Access Abortion Services in New York

Speaker Carl Heastie today announced that the Assembly has passed a package of legislation to protect reproductive health care providers from interstate investigations for care that was performed lawfully in New York, and to ensure that New York remains a haven for anyone seeking access to reproductive health care.

“Here in New York, we believe reproductive health care decisions are to be made by a patient in consultation with their doctor – not by the government,” said Speaker Heastie. “This legislation will protect reproductive health care providers in New York from states looking to impose their policies on New Yorkers and punish providers beyond their borders.”

The package includes legislation that would protect health care practitioners from professional discipline based solely on providing reproductive health services to patients in other states (A.9687-B, Rosenthal). The bill would:

  • prohibit a health care practitioner licensed in New York and acting within their scope of practice from being subject to professional misconduct charges solely for performing, recommending or providing reproductive health services to a patient that resides in a state where those services are illegal; and
  • provide that an out-of-state applicant seeking licensure, certification or authorization to practice in New York shall not to be denied such licensure, certification or authorization solely on the basis of being subject to disciplinary action by another jurisdiction for performing an abortion pursuant to Public Health Law.

Another bill passed would prohibit medical malpractice insurance companies from taking any adverse action against a reproductive health care provider who provides reproductive health related services that are legal in New York on an individual from another state, including providers that legally prescribe medication to an out of state patient through telemedicine (A.9718-B, Rosenthal).

“With the Supreme Court on the precipice of overturning Roe, it is incumbent that New York take actionable steps to become an abortion safe haven for women across the country,” said Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal, Chair of the Committee on Social Services. “This package of bills, including mine to protect reproductive health care providers against medical malpractice claims and professional discipline brought by states hell-bent on controlling women’s bodies and reaching across state lines to do so, will ensure that New York’s heroes, the women and men who continue to provide reproductive healthcare, can do so without fear of persecution or prosecution. I thank Speaker Heastie for his leadership on this issue.”

To address threats of violence against reproductive health care providers and others, the Assembly has passed legislation that would allow reproductive health care service providers and their immediate family members, employees, volunteers and patients to be eligible for New York’s Address Confidentiality Program run by the Department of State, which allows individuals to apply for a designated address to receive mail instead of using their actual address (A.9818-A, Paulin). Mail sent to the substitute address is processed by program staff and then forwarded to the actual confidential location of the participant.

“According to the National Abortion Federation, targeted threats of violence against abortion providers are escalating,” said Assemblymember Amy Paulin. “This legislation would offer providers and other individuals who could be in danger of violence from dangerous antiabortion activists the peace of mind that their address is not readily available to the public.”

Another bill passed would provide judicial protections to reproductive health care providers in New York (A.10372-A, Lavine). The bill would:

  • provide that the governor will not recognize a demand for extradition of a person charged with providing an abortion unless the person was present in the requesting state at the time of the alleged offense and then fled;
  • prohibit law enforcement from arresting any person for performing or aiding in the performance of an abortion in New York, or in procuring an abortion in New York if the abortion is performed legally;
  • prohibit law enforcement from cooperating with or providing information to any out-of-state agency related to the provision of legal abortions in New York; and
  • prohibit courts and county clerks from issuing subpoenas related to out-of-state proceedings related to abortion services or procedures that were legally performed in New York unless certain circumstances are present. 

“As we inch closer to the likely event of the Supreme Court overturning Roe vs Wade, it falls upon New York to claim its place as a national leader in protecting women’s rights and provide the legal support for women’s reproductive freedom” said Assemblymember Charles D. Lavine. “While some states will suppress that freedom, I will never relent in fighting for reproductive health.”

Other legislation passed in the package would establish a cause of action for unlawful interference with protected rights (A.10094-A, Burdick). Under the bill, a person would be able to bring a cause of action in New York State when they can demonstrate that they exercised or attempted to exercise or facilitated or attempted to facilitate the exercise of a protected right in New York which resulted in litigation in any court in the United States or its territories.

“New York must stand together with those who come here from states that are hostile to basic health care rights and protect them from those attempting to intimidate and harass them with litigation in their home states,” said Assemblymember Chris Burdick. “Plain and simple, it is an infringement on the rights established in New York law to interfere with anyone attempting to exercise those rights. This legislation, which establishes a cause of action for interfering with these protected rights, is critical to people who simply want control over their own bodies.”