Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced he is proposing to once and for all guarantee a woman’s right to choose in New York by codifying the protections established by the 1973 Roe v. Wade into the state constitution. This would ensure these protections remain in place in New York in the event this decision is overturned, or altered by a new U.S. Supreme Court.
“As Washington seeks to limit women’s rights, we seek to protect them, and as they threaten reproductive rights, I propose a constitutional amendment to write Roe v. Wade into the New York State Constitution to prevent any attack on the right to choose,” Governor Cuomo said. “We will not allow the progress of the women’s movement to be stopped, and we must seize this opportunity to bring the state and the nation forward and stand up for women’s health. Make no mistake, we will always protect the right to choose in New York.”
The Governor made the announcement at the “I Stand with Planned Parenthood” rally and Family Planning Advocates’ Day of Action, in front of a crowd of 1600 activists and Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood. A video of the Governor making the announcement is available on YouTube here .
Roe v. Wade
The landmark 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Roe v. Wade, held that the United States Constitution protects the right of a woman to choose to terminate her pregnancy prior to fetal viability or throughout pregnancy when it is necessary to preserve her life or health. In the 40 years since the decision, its core ruling has been continually upheld and the right to an abortion has been affirmed as constitutionally protected.
Securing Reproductive Health in New York
This announcement follows Governor Cuomo’s recent actions earlier this month to secure reproductive health services in New York. Under Governor Cuomo’s direction, the state took regulatory action to ensure that insurers:
- Provide coverage for all contraceptive drugs and devices and coverage for at least one form of contraception in each of the FDA-approved contraceptive delivery methods without co-pays, coinsurance, or deductibles, regardless of the future of the Affordable Care Act.
- Provide coverage for the dispensing of an initial three-month supply of a contraceptive to an insured person. For subsequent dispensing of the same contraceptive prescribed by the same health care provider and covered under the same policy or renewal, an insurer must allow coverage for the dispensing of the entire prescribed contraceptive supply, up to 12 months, at the same time.
- Provide coverage for abortion services that are medically necessary without co-pays, coinsurance, or deductibles (unless the plan is a high deductible plan).
New York’s Promise to Women: Ever Upward
The proposed amendment is the latest in a series of actions by Governor Cuomo to champion women’s rights, known as “New York’s Promise to Women: Ever Upward.”
In the past two years alone, the Governor has signed legislation to combat sexual assault on college campuses through the Enough is Enough Act; prevent sexual harassment in the workplace regardless of the size of the employer; end pregnancy discrimination; establish the longest and most comprehensive paid family leave program in the nation; and raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. (To learn more about New York’s Promise to Women, visit here.)
“Roe v. Wade handed down one of the most important legal rulings in our nation’s history, and it is imperative that we uphold the right to choose,” Kim Atkins, Board Chair, Planned Parenthood Empire State Acts, said. “With that federal protection under threat, it is more necessary than ever before that states stand up for reproductive rights, and Governor Cuomo is leading the nation by proposing this amendment in New York. With a constitutional amendment, that right will be guaranteed by the state constitution, so that it cannot be stripped away, no matter what happens at the federal level. Thank you, Governor Cuomo, for standing tall for the right to choose in New York.”
During remarks at the Family Planning Advocates’ Day of Action in Albany, Governor Cuomo did not just stand up for women’s rights, but for immigrant rights and against the Trump ban on travel, immigration and refugee sanctuary.
Here are highlights of Governor Cuomo’s remarks:
My daughters are frightened and they are not alone. They look around they wonder what happened to the America that they believed in. But here’s the fact also – we will not lose this nation’s soul and we will not stop the progress of the women’s movement and we will not allow disrespect of any American female, male, black, white, gay, LGBTQ because we have come too far my friends and we are not going backwards, we are going forwards.
Now, for many years, this state was paralyzed. It didn’t assume its role as a national leader. But that changed. New York State has stood up and over the last few years we have made tremendous progress.
We passed the first women’s equality act outlawing employment and housing discrimination against women.
While the Congress in Washington stood frozen, we passed the “enough is enough” law that provides the greatest protection for women against campus sexual assault in the United States of America.
We passed the best paid family leave bill in the country.
We raised the minimum wage to 15 dollars, the highest in the United States that predominately helps women.
Last month we furthered equal pay by ordering salary blind state hiring.
And last week on the day of the Women’s March, we signed an order mandating insurance companies to pay for birth control without deductibles, without copays and it doesn’t matter what Congress does on Obamacare. Women are entitled to birth control.
The truth is we have come a long way. And the truth is that my daughters and all young women have rights today that my sisters didn’t have, that my mother didn’t have – There is a new generation of rights for women and that’s why we can’t go back.
I’m not saying everything is done, there’s certainly still more to do. There is an inherent sexism in society that exists and we will not stop fighting until we have total equality and parity.
Now as you know our rights are under attack in Washington and as they seek to limit women’s rights we in New York seek to protect them. As they pull on women’s rights, we’re going to push back on women’s rights. And as they threaten this nation with a possible Supreme Court nominees who will reverse Roe v. Wade – I want them to know today, if that’s what they do we’re going to protect Roe v. Wade in the State of New York. I propose today, I propose today, a constitutional amendment to right Roe v Wade into the New York State constitution so that nobody can change it. No supreme court nominee, because we’re going to protect a women’s right to choose in the state of New York. And let’s put in on the ballet and let’s let the people decide because this is still a democracy and New Yorkers want to protect a women’s right to choose.”
But as Cecile Richards said, our challenge is even greater. Don’t get me wrong – it’s not just women’s rights that are under attack it’s the rights of foreigners and immigrants and members of the LGBTQ community.
The new Washington philosophy is against people who are different than they are. That’s what it comes down to.
The administration wants to control access to our nation because they fear radical Islamic terrorists. We fear terrorists too. This is the state of New York. It was the blood of New Yorkers that spilled on 9/11 we understand the fear of terrorism. But while we are afraid of terrorism, we also fear an extreme right wing agenda that will infringe on our rights. And my friends we will protect our borders from terrorists, but we’re also going to protect ourselves from an extreme right wing agenda that will trample on our rights.
And the new administration in Washington forgot something – When they tried to slam the doors shut on America there was a piece of paper that actually got caught in the fray and it keep the doors open. That piece of paper is called the Constitution of the United States of America.
And that piece of paper says, that individuals have rights, the right to due process, the right to equal treatment under the laws and I want you to know that the state of New York is going to enforce every legal right of every person who’s detained, every person who’s victimized by any policy from that administration.
They forgot, they forgot that there’s a state named New York and they underestimated us. We’ve worked very hard for the place that we’ve achieved. We stand on the shoulders of great leaders like Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony and Geraldine Ferraro and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. We have fought very hard for the progress that we have made. Great organizations like Planned Parenthood have brought us forward step by step and we are not going backwards.
They forgot that we are New Yorkers and we will stand in solidarity one with another. Because that is who we are. And that as a New Yorker I am a Muslim. And as a New Yorker, I am Jewish. And as a New Yorker, I am a refugee. And as a New Yorker, I am black, and as a New Yorker I am gay, and as a New Yorker I am poor, and as a New Yorker I am homeless. And as a New Yorker I am a child who needs an education. And as I am a New Yorker I am a family living in poverty. And that we are all connected and we are one. And if you infringe on the rights of one, you infringe on the rights of all. And if you attack one of us, you attack all of us. And we are going to stand in solidarity and we are going to push back and we are going to galvanize resistance like this nation has never seen. And we’re going to take this moment to bring this state and this nation forward.
Next Step of New York’s Promise to Women: Ever Upward – More Information Available Here