By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo was joined today by Nassau County leaders at a rally in New Hyde Park to fight to protect women’s reproductive rights. State and local leaders called on the Senate to return to Albany to codify Roe v. Wade into New York State Law. The rally follows the federal government’s decision Monday night to nominate Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. The Governor vowed to take action to defend New York’s progressive values against the extreme conservative agenda of the Trump Administration, including the fight to codify the protections of Roe v. Wade into state law. New actions were also announced by the Governor on Monday to protect reproductive rights in anticipation of this Supreme Court Justice nomination.
“This federal government is threatening basic values New York and this entire nation were built upon, and while extreme conservatives in Washington make destructive decisions that violate the rights of our residents, New York is fighting to protect the progressive accomplishments that we have made,” Governor Cuomo said. “I call on every Senate Republican to come back and reconvene in Albany – no excuses. The Assembly will support codification of Roe v. Wade, I will sign the bill, the Senate Democrats will vote in favor of it and we will pass Roe v. Wade for New York.”
Noting that elections have consequences, Cuomo laid out the challenge to return to Albany to codify Roe into state law as a line in the sand.
“When you’re talking to our friends the Republican Senators, remind them in 1970, before Roe v. Wade, which was 1973, this state legalized abortion. 1970. With a Republican Senate and a Republican Governor because we understood it wasn’t a partisan issue, it was a fairness issue. It was a health issue. It was an equality issue. It was a woman being able to control her own body issue. We did it in 1970, don’t tell me in 2018 the Republican Senate is going to go backwards from 1970. We have to call to question. Elections have consequences and this is binary. They’re with us, they’re against us. And if they don’t come back, if they don’t codify Roe v. Wade, you know what we’re going to say?
“In the immortal words of President Trump, to the senators who won’t come back and sign a bill, you’re fired. We’re protecting the women in the state of New York. Women’s rights come first. Let’s sign the state Executive Order.”
Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul who attended a similar rally to protective reproductive rights with Governor Cuomo in Yonkers earlier, said, “I lost my seat in Congress over my steadfast support of the Affordable Care Act and the contraception mandate, and I know how critically important it is to protect these rights at the state level. That is why I stand with the Governor and the women of this great state in fighting back to ensure protections and safety for women when it comes to their reproductive health. Given all that is happening in Washington, these actions will protect women’s reproductive rights. As President of the State Senate, I’m also calling on Senate Republican leadership to protect the women of this state and pass the Reproductive Health Act and codify Roe v. Wade. No one should tell us what to do with our bodies. Not now, not ever.”
For years, Governor Cuomo has pushed to codify the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision and subsequent rulings into state law to secure women’s access to reproductive health options, and noted that Republicans made a pretense of supporting women’s rights but blocked any consideration on the floor based on the federal protection under Roe. Now the Governor is calling their bluff and calling for the passage of legislation to protect the right of women to make personal health care decisions and ensure that health care professionals can provide these crucial services without fear of criminal penalty. The Assembly has passed legislation to codify the protections of Roe v. Wade for the last six years, including during the 2018 Legislative Session.
Additionally, through regulations by the Department of Financial Services and Department of Health, as directed by the Governor on Monday, New York State will ensure an insurer must cover over the counter emergency contraception in addition to all other contraceptive drugs, devices or other products for women approved by the Federal Food and Drug Administration and, as well as the dispensing of 12 months of contraceptive at one time, all without co-insurance, co-pays or deductibles. The Executive Order signed by the Governor on Monday, in addition to today’s rally, builds on Governor Cuomo’s 2018 Women’s Agenda: Equal Rights, Equal Opportunity.
The updated DFS regulation mandates that health insurers:
- Expand coverage requirements for contraceptive drugs, devices or other products for women approved by the Federal Food and Drug Administration. Require coverage for emergency contraception with no cost sharing when acquired in any lawful manner including on an over the counter basis from an out of network pharmacy;
- Permit a woman to fill 12 months of a prescribed contraceptive at one time, removing the previously required three-month trial period;
- Cover voluntary sterilization procedures for women and over-the-counter contraceptives without cost-sharing; and
- Do not place restrictions or delays on contraceptive coverage not otherwise authorized under the regulation. This provision would prohibit quantity limits and other such restrictions.
The regulation codifies guidance issued in January 2017 regarding information that must be provided in formularies regarding contraceptives, including noting which contraceptives are covered without cost-sharing. Insurers will be required to publish an easily accessible, up-to-date, accurate and complete list of all covered contraceptive drugs, devices and other products on their formulary drug lists, including any tiering structure and any restrictions on the manner in which a drug may be obtained.
The accompanying DOH regulations permit a woman insured through Medicaid to fill 12 months of a prescribed contraceptive at one time, whereas previously, the limit was three months.
A copy of the proposed regulations can be found here.
“Women’s rights are under attack. Another Trump-appointed Justice will guarantee an ultra-conservative Court that is even more hostile to women’s health care protections. This will have dire consequences if we don’t act because New York decriminalized abortion before the Roe v. Wade decision,” Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said. “The women of New York State are looking to us to protect their hard-won rights, and we must not fail them.”
“The administration in Washington is preparing yet another assault on women’s reproductive rights with the nomination of an ultra-conservative Supreme Court justice. Earlier this year, and in countless previous legislative sessions, the New York State Assembly passed legislation to codify Roe v. Wade,” Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said. “Year after year, our Republican colleagues in the Senate neglect to pass this legislation, insisting there is no threat to Roe v. Wade. Their inaction has shamefully put women’s reproductive health care in jeopardy. It’s time to codify Roe v. Wade. No more excuses.”
“The Trump Administration is committed to ensuring that millions of women across America lose essential access to the health care they absolutely require. We are facing an unprecedented attack on our health care, and rights by a federal government determined to replace evidence-based medically accurate public policy with politically driven ideology,” Robin Chappelle Golston, President & CEO, Planned Parenthood Empire State Acts, said. “Governor Cuomo is standing up today to remind the nation that New York won’t go backwards; we won’t sit back quietly as our rights evaporate and we will resist this dismantling of our constitutionally protected rights.”
“Armed with a Supreme Court vacancy, the Trump regime is poised to pack the court in an effort to undo Roe v. Wade and curtail abortion to an extent not seen since 1973. New York can no longer put off fixing our state’s broken abortion law,” New York Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Donna Lieberman said. “The Reproductive Health Act would take abortion out of the criminal code so that New York can be a safe-haven where women and their health are valued and protected. That means codifying Roe and ensuring access to the information and services women — including pregnant women — need to protect their health.”
Andrea Miller, President of the National Institute for Reproductive Health said, “Governor Cuomo’s executive order today proves that, regardless of what happens at the federal level, states have tremendous power to shape their own state laws and can act now to protect women from the full-blown assault on their reproductive health and rights. The best defense against a hostile Supreme Court and Trump-Pence Administration is a strong state-level offense. States around the country should take note of this action – and Governor Cuomo’s previous regulations – and help lead the movement for reproductive freedom from the ground up.”
Cuomo Draws Line in the Sand for State Republican Lawmakers
Cuomo said that with the Trump administration dismantling rights – civil rights, voting rights, environmental and financial protections, a woman’s right to choose – it is up to the states to take action.
“Every day this federal government does something that is shocking to our senses…It’s shocking to us in New York because we are the exact opposite. We’re night and day from who they are and what they believe so we’re continually in a state of shock, but they are doing what they said they were going to do, and elections have consequences.
“And it is a wake-up call to all of us. My daughters, you know if you’re 21, 22, 23, young women you never even questioned your reproductive rights. You grew up in a generation where you just assumed, you know Roe v. Wade was 1973. 1973. Generations just grew up assuming this was the way it was. Couldn’t even imagine that a woman wouldn’t have the right to control her own body. That’s what they are saying. And they are serious. And it’s not just politics and this isn’t just a game. They are doing it. They’re doing what they said they would do
“They have their own view of what religions are right and what lifestyles are right and what sexuality is right and who should be an American and who shouldn’t be an American, and they are going to enforce that. It’s the greatest act of political hypocrisy, because conservatives used to stand for limited government, right? Less federal government. Leave it to the states, leave it to the individual rights.
“They are on track to overturn Roe v. Wade. That’s what they want to do. That’s what they’ve wanted to do since it was passed in 1973. And it is a shock to the system. How could we possible go back to those days? Who even remembers what it was like before, when a woman couldn’t have an abortion? How many lost their lives, were damaged because of what they had to do in that situation? And that is what we’re looking at. They are pro-life.
“They also have their view of sexuality and they don’t agree with the LGBTQ community and that’s why they treat them as second-class citizens. Wanted to keep transgender out of the military, regardless of service, regardless of merits. They believe who should be an immigrant and who shouldn’t be an immigrant. A little hypocritical since we’re all immigrants, but they now decide they’re going to close the door. The separation of family policy – isn’t that a coincidence? They knew exactly what they were doing. They wanted to stop people at the border. The first point was, build a wall. I am going to build a big wall, nobody can come. The President didn’t get a wall so he went to the “zero tolerance” policy. And now what he says to families is, if you show up, I’m going to take your children from you and send them to a place where you don’t even know where they are. He knew exactly what he was doing. It was a deterrent to stop people from coming when he couldn’t get the wall.
“They’re going to tell you which religion is right. They don’t believe that Muslims are an appropriate religion, and that’s the travel ban. They don’t believe with labor unions. Thank God for the teamsters. They don’t want labor unions. They just passed the Janus decision with the Supreme Court because they don’t want these annoying unions being able to organize employees, making it harder for management to negotiate with the workforce. It’s who they are and what they said they were going to do. And it is a frightening reality.
“We believe the opposite and it’s incumbent on us to act. To act. We’re not going to let them change our values. We’re not going to let them change or philosophy. We’re not going to let them change the way we treat one another. We’re not going to let them change our tolerance to intolerance. We’re not going to allow them to divide us. They’re not going to pick who has the right lifestyle and who has the right religion and who has the right sexuality and who has the right income level to deserve respect. We’re not going to let them do that.
“Federal government has rights, but you know what there was before the federal government? There were state governments and there were states’ rights. And states have the ability to stand up and act. And when they wouldn’t do anything in the face of the #MeToo movement, this state stood up and said, we’re going to pass the strongest anti-sexual harassment law in the United States of America. When they separated families at the border, this state stood up and said, that’s unconstitutional, it’s illegal, it violates due process, and we’re suing the federal government to put those families back together and to stop the separation.
“And we have to do the same thing on the issue of choice. They are going to overturn Roe v. Wade. We need a New York State law that codifies Roe v. Wade into the New York State law. And we need that law in place before they overturn Roe v. Wade in the Supreme Court. Now, we’ve been trying to get the New York State legislature, the Senate, to pass a New York State Roe v. Wade. That’s all the law would say. Take the federal ruling in Roe v. Wade—1973—and enact it into a state law.
“Currently, the New York State law is not as strong as Roe v. Wade because we had Roe v. Wade. And I’ve been arguing with the Republicans in the Senate, frankly, why don’t we codify it into New York state law? And the Republican Senators have been saying to me, well we have Roe v. Wade. We don’t need it. No one would be crazy enough to overturn Roe v. Wade. That’s the answer JoAnn has been getting for years when Planned Parenthood would lobby for New York State law. We don’t need it, we have Roe v. Wade. Well you know what? Now we need it. Now we need it.
“And I want the New York State Senators to come back today, tomorrow, to go to Albany, and pass and New York State Roe v. Wade, period. And no excuses. No excuses. For years they’ve been doing this dance, the Republican Senators. Privately they say, I’m pro-choice, I’m pro-choice. When the bill comes up, I’m going to vote pro-choice. [Planned Parenthood of Nassau County CEO]JoAnn [Smith] will tell you. But then, they never let the bill come up. We tried to force a vote this legislative session. They won’t put the bill on the floor. Why? It’s a little game they play. It allows them to say privately, when the bill comes up, I’ll vote yes. But, the bill never comes up, so they can tell one audience, yes, I’m pro-choice. Then they can go to another audience and say, we’ll never pass choice in the state of New York.
“We have to call to question. This is binary. This is black and white. You are either pro-choice or you are not pro-choice and we don’t have Roe v.Wade to fall back on anymore. It’s only what we have in New York State law. And the New York State law does not go as far as Roe v. Wade and if we have only the New York State law, we’re in trouble. It does not do life and health. It is in the criminal code. We will have a problem. We need that law. We have to call to question and we have to say to the Republican Senators who have been having it both ways for too long, that’s over. You are with us or against us. And if you are with us don’t just tell me. Go up to Albany and pass a bill. That’s how I know that you are with the women and the men of this state who support choice. That’s what it has to be.
“In the meantime, I’m going to sign an Executive Order that guarantees the women in this state the right to contraception. I don’t care what the insurance company says or what the bureaucracy says. Women have the right to contraception. But we have to learn the lesson, my friends. Elections have consequences. Elections have consequences. And this is a wakeup call. If what they did on immigration and unions and what they did to Muslims wasn’t enough, this is an attack on every woman’s rights to control her own reproductive health in the United States of America. This is a direct attack on what we knew in 1970.”
Nassau County leaders who joined the Governor today in calling on the State Senate to reconvene and codify Roe v. Wade into state law included:
- Nassau County Executive Laura Curran
- Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas
- Nassau County Legislator Ellen Birnbaum
- Town of North Hempstead Supervisor Judi Bosworth
- Town of North Hempstead Councilwoman Anna Kaplan
- Town of North Hempstead Councilwoman Lee Seeman
- Town of North Hempstead Clerk Wayne Wink
- Town of Hempstead Clerk Sylvia Cabana
- JoAnn Smith, President and CEO, Planned Parenthood of Nassau County
- Rebecca Sanin, President and CEO, Health and Welfare Council of Long Island
- Matty Aracich, President, Nassau and Suffolk Building Trades Council
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