‘I Refuse to Go Backwards’: New York Lawmakers Vow to Protect Abortion Access

Democratic leaders in Albany decried the news coming out of the Supreme Court on Tuesday, suggesting they were considering a range of options that would help to enshrine New York as a safe haven for women seeking reproductive deva.

If the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, as it appears poised to do, New York and other states with strong support for abortion rights could see an influx of people seeking abortions traveling from states that ban the practice.

State Senator Liz Krueger of Manhattan has introduced a bill that would protect New York doctors who treat those patients by prohibiting law enforcement from cooperating with out-of-state investigations on abortion cases.

Connecticut lawmakers passed a similar bill on Friday, and Gov. Ned Lamont, a Democrat, has said he intends to sign it. The bill would also expand the pool of people who can do certain types of abortions, to include nurse-midwives, physician assistants and other professionals.

Other bills introduced in the New York State Senate include one sponsored by State Senator Alessandra Biaggi, who represents parts of the Bronx and Westchester, that would establish an abortion access fund and allow taxpayers to contribute to it, and another sponsored by State Senator Samra G. Brouk, of Rochester, that would require health insurers who offer maternity coverage to cover abortion.

Another bill from Ms. Krueger would establish an Equality Amendment to the state’s constitution, protecting a person’s right to access reproductive deva, including abortion.

In their first appearance together, Gov. Kathy Hochul and her newly announced pick for lieutenant governor, Representative Antonio Delgado, denounced the leaked draft opinion that would overturn Roe, and said New York would take action.

“I refuse to go backwards,” Gov. Hochul said, noting that abortion access was an issue generations of women before her had fought for.

“The state of New York will always be there for anyone who needs reproductive health deva, including an abortion,” she added.

The Senate majority leader, Andrea Stewart-Cousins, said on Tuesday that it was “an outrage that the Supreme Court is poised to reverse the rights of women in this country” and that she expected to pass legislation to reaffirm abortion rights before the end of the session.

“Certainly, we do not want anybody who is going to be hunted in Texas to be hunted here,” Ms. Stewart-Cousins said.

Mr. Delgado, the lieutenant governor pick, said that the court was “reasserting a social order grounded in patriarchy and male dominance over a woman’s body.”

Ms. Hochul told reporters to “stay tuned” for movement on the legislative and executive fronts to safeguard abortion rights. Her office also said on Tuesday that it would appoint a representative of women’s health service providers to the Public Health and Health Planning Council.

“My message to those who would deny this fundamental right, this basic right: You don’t want to mess with us,” Gov. Hochul said. “You don’t want to mess with the state of New York. And I assure you, this is a fight that you will not win.”

New York has strong protections for abortion on the books already. In 2019, then Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed the Reproductive Health Act, which enshrined the right to abortion in the event that Roe v. Wade were overturned, expanded access to abortions, and allowed abortions after 24 weeks to protect the mother’s health or if the fetus was not viable.

Lawmakers in Albany rallied at the Capitol at 5 p.m., and other officials, including Attorney General Letitia James, attended a rally at Foley Square in Manhattan at the same time.

“This is a call to action, this is a five-alarm fire, my friends,” Ms. James said at the protest, eliciting cheers. “This is a time to act, this is not the time to be silent, because silence is the enemy right now.”

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