Assembly Passes Legislation to Protect Women's Reproductive Rights and Ensure Access to Family Planning

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Assemblymembers Deborah Glick, Kevin Cahill and Ellen Jaffee announced that today the Assembly passed a package of three bills that would protect women's reproductive rights and grant all New Yorkers access to family planning. These bills will update New York State law to reflect the protections for reproductive healthcare recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court, require that insurers provide cost-free contraception coverage and prohibit employers from discriminating against employees based on their reproductive healthcare choices.

"While the administration in Washington continues its assault on women's reproductive rights, the Assembly Majority remains dedicated to fighting for a woman's right to choose," Speaker Heastie said. "These bills will ensure New Yorkers can control their family planning decisions, have access to the reproductive healthcare they need and will not be discriminated against for their choices. With our new partners in the Senate, we have finally seen this legislation pass both houses on the anniversary of the historic Roe v. Wade decision."

"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," Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said. "Today, we tore those barriers down and we are now leading the way again. I commend my colleague Speaker Heastie, the Senate and Assembly bill sponsors, and the Senate and Assembly Majorities 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."

"New York women deserve to have their own healthcare decisions respected," said Assemblymember Glick, sponsor of the Reproductive Health Act. "Abortion is a medical procedure, not a crime. The days of demonizing women's reproductive healthcare must come to an end. When abortion is illegal women die, and pregnancy is not a risk-free condition. Women, in consultation with healthcare professionals, and not legislators, should make decisions that affect their own health free of interference. After years of fighting for the passage of this essential protection for women, our moment has finally arrived."

"Family Planning and contraceptive care are personal health matters. The Affordable Care Act recognizes that and promised to deliver coverage without additional cost to all who have insurance. Under the leadership of Speaker Carl Heastie, together with my colleagues in the Assembly and our partners in the State Senate, we are delivering on that promise for all New Yorkers through the Comprehensive Contraceptive Care Act. Thank you to the activist community and Attorney General Tish James for their guidance on this important matter," Assemblymember Cahill added.

"There are many factors a woman must consider when making reproductive healthcare decisions that are right for her and her family; discrimination by her employer shouldn't be one of them," said Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee, sponsor of the Boss Bill. "This legislation upholds New York's long history of protecting individuals in the workplace by guaranteeing that women have the freedom and the fundamental right to make their own reproductive healthcare decisions without fear of retribution from their employers."

The Reproductive Health Act (A.21, Glick) updates New York State law to address constitutional flaws and recognize a woman's fundamental right to access safe, legal abortion. The bill moves abortion from the Penal Law to the Public Health Law, which removes longstanding harmful and burdensome barriers to accessing reproductive healthcare and protects New Yorkers against future federal intrusion.

The Comprehensive Contraception Coverage Act (A.585A, Cahill), codifies in New York State Insurance Law the requirement under the federal Affordable Care Act that all health insurers provide cost-free contraceptive coverage as a part of their insurance policies. Under the proposal, insurance companies have to provide cost-free coverage for at least one type of all FDA-approved contraceptives, including emergency contraception. The bill also applies to voluntary sterilization procedures, extending coverage to both men and women, and provides contraceptive education, counseling and related follow up services.

The "Boss Bill" (A.584, Jaffee) prohibits employers from accessing an employee's personal information regarding reproductive health decision-making and from imposing any requirements that would obstruct an employee's ability to exercise their right to make these decisions and access related health and medical services. This bill prohibits employers from discriminating against employees based on the employees' or dependent's reproductive health decisions, and provides remedies for such violations.

New York was the first state to recognize the importance of protecting women's reproductive healthcare choices in 1970, three years before the landmark Roe v. Wade decision. Since then, the Assembly Majority has continued to pass legislation to expand these protections and promote gender equality. Now, with our new partners in the Senate Majority, we have finally seen these important and timely measures signed into law.

"We cannot overstate how important it is for New Yorkers to have the ability to control their own bodies and determine their own destinies," said Robin Chappelle Golston, president & CEO, Planned Parenthood Empire State Acts. "We applaud Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl E. Heastie for their leadership; the bill sponsors, Assemblymember Deborah Glick, Senator Liz Krueger, Assemblymember Kevin Cahill, Senator Julia Salazar, Assemblymember Ellen Jaffee, and Senator Jen Metzger for their dedication; and all the members for their commitment to the needs of New Yorkers and their vote today to keep health care in our hands. The legislature understands that with the continued threats on the federal level, New York must be a leader in protecting our access and not politicize reproductive health care. We look forward to continuing to work with the legislature and Governor Cuomo so that all New Yorkers have access to essential health care, now and in the future."

"The New York State Assembly has for years now stood up for reproductive health, rights, and justice by repeatedly voting to pass the RHA, the CCCA, and the Boss Bill," said Andrea Miller, president of the National Institute for Reproductive Health Action Fund. "Today's momentous vote to pass all three bills will improve the lives and health of New Yorkers by ensuring access to abortion and contraception and solidifying New York's role as a progressive stronghold in the era of Trump."

"Today the New York Legislature is poised to take a historic vote to protect women's rights and autonomy," said Donna Lieberman, exective director of the New York Civil Liberties Union. "The Reproductive Health Act recognizes reproductive health care as a fundamental right. It takes abortion out of the criminal code and puts it where women's health belongs — in the public health law. It recognizes the range of medical professionals that women can turn to, expanding access to early care. Together with the Comprehensive Contraception Coverage Act, this legislation will strengthen a woman's ability to decide what is right for her life, her body, and her family. As attacks on reproductive rights grow around the country, emboldened by the Trump administration's efforts to stack the courts against women, updating New York's abortion law to protect the rights guaranteed by Roe v. Wade is more critical than ever. While there is still more to do to ensure New York can be a safe haven for women all over the country, today is a day for long-overdue celebration."

"As the leading organization of physicians delivering health care to New York's women, ACOG District II thanks Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins for their leadership and steadfast commitment to protecting women's access to reproductive health care, including abortion here in New York," said Christa R. Christakis, executive director, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, (ACOG) District II. "Abortion and contraception are essential components of women's health care. Advancement of the Reproductive Health Act and the Comprehensive Contraception Coverage Act today will ensure women have access to comprehensive reproductive health care, regardless of what happens in Washington."