The Domestic Gag Rule, this week’s SCOTUS Ruling, and the retirement of Justice Kennedy have put reproductive care, including access to safe and legal abortion, on the line. It is more urgent than ever before that New York State stand as a beacon and safe haven for reproductive freedom.
A month ago, the Trump-Pence administration proposed a “domestic gag rule,” which, if passed, would make it illegal for doctors, nurses, hospitals, community health centers, and any other provider in the Title X program – the nation’s family planning funding program – to provide abortion care or even tell patients how they can safely and legally access abortion. Essentially, the rule “gags” providers from giving their patients the full and accurate information about their health care options.
Equally distressing is that the proposed rule would prevent more than 23,600 Planned Parenthood patients right here on Long Island – and millions of people around the country – from accessing the free or low cost birth control, STI testing, and cancer screenings that Title X makes possible. As the largest single provider of Title X services in the country, Planned Parenthood acutely understands that these attacks disproportionately impact our patients, the majority of whom are women, people of color and those with lower incomes… the very same people who already face significant barriers to accessing affordable health care.
But it gets worse. Three days ago, the Supreme Court, in a 5-4 ruling, upheld a decision that would allow non-medically staffed, fake women's health centers to lie to patients about their reproductive health options.
And just yesterday, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement as of July 31st, opening the door for the Trump-Pence administration to seat another conservative who will fulfill Trump’s promise to only appoint biased justices who will overturn Roe v Wade – taking away federal protections to access legal abortion.
If Roe v. Wade is overturned, the right to access safe and legal abortion reverts back to the states.
For years, Governor Cuomo and the New York State Assembly have championed women’s reproductive freedom by trying to pass important bills, such as the Reproductive Health Act and the Comprehensive Contraception Coverage Act. Unfortunately, time and again, the Republican leadership in the New York State Senate has blocked the passage of these laws, which would codify reproductive rights protections and access to family planning services.
It is clear that New Yorkers can no longer rely on federal protections to safeguard women’s health and rights. As we head into state elections this November, it is more imperative than ever that we demand – with our votes and our voices – that our all our representatives in Albany protect reproductive freedom, and that New York stands proudly as a safe haven for all women.
JoAnn D. Smith, President & CEO, Planned Parenthood of Nassau County
Vincent Russell, President & CEO, Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic