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Opinion

Planned Parenthood’s Message for Albany, To Be Delivered in Person


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Planned Parenthood NYC 


Many of us have been involved in national actions like participating in the Women’s March on Washington, but now more than ever, it’s just as important to take action at our state and local level. On Monday, January 30, dozens of Planned Parenthood of New York City supporters, volunteers, and staff are getting on a bus to Albany to demand that our elected officials protect New Yorkers’ access to health care.

In the midst of the worst assault on reproductive rights that we’ve ever seen, we need leaders that will stand up for reproductive health and rights. There are local steps that must be taken. Recently, in response to the demands of New Yorkers, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced bold action to enhance access to affordable contraception through insurance coverage.

While this is a great step forward, it’s also only the beginning. Right now, our State Senate majority is hostile to sexual and reproductive health issues, and has failed to enact crucial legislation that would protect New Yorkers’ access to care. Now more than ever, our elected officials must move to ensure that reproductive health is protected.

Here’s what we’ll be pushing for on Monday in the capital:

Protecting Planned Parenthood & Ensuring Continued Funding
Under the current federal administration, we are facing threats to funding for Medicaid and Title X, programs that we rely on to provide essential health care to thousands of New Yorkers each year. Losing funding would have a devastating impact on the communities we serve, particularly for women of color and low-income women. In 2017, we are demanding that our state’s elected officials stand with Planned Parenthood and reject any attempts at the federal or state level to restrict access to reproductive health care.

Ensuring Access to Abortion through the RHA
New York State legalized abortion in 1970, three years before the Roe v. Wade decision. But with Roe now at risk, New York must take additional steps to make sure that abortion access is protected. We must update three key components of our current law: first, the Constitutional protections of Roe v. Wade must be written into New York state law. Second, we must remove restrictions that criminalize abortion providers. And, finally, our law must reflect modern medical practice by allowing Advanced Practice Clinicians to provide abortion care. The Reproductive Health Act (RHA) accomplishes all these goals and should become law during this session.

Improving Contraceptive Access
The federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) made contraception more accessible than ever, but New Yorkers still face barriers in accessing the contraception they need. The Comprehensive Contraceptive Coverage Act (CCCA) ensures commonsense solutions so New Yorkers have the tools they need to lead healthy lives and fulfill their dreams. The CCCA removes out-of-pocket expenses for vasectomies and improves New Yorkers’ ability to access Emergency Contraception in a timely manner, in addition to provisions similar to those the governor has put forward.

At PPNYC alone, 64,000 New Yorkers rely on us annually for health care services. Our communities come to us for indispensable primary and preventive care, including contraception, breast and cervical cancer screening, pregnancy testing, STD testing and treatment, HIV testing, and more. And regardless of insurance status, immigration status, or ability to pay, we’re here for all people—no matter what. Time and time again, we have heard from patients and activists about the importance of being able to access affordable, high-quality care. Now is the time for New York elected officials to step up and protect access to health care, not just in New York City, but across all affiliates statewide.

The assault on reproductive rights will only intensify around the country, and New York has the unique responsibility to stay true to its progressive legacy. Now is the time to be a model for resistance. Now is the time for our elected officials to stand up for reproductive health and rights, and send a message that will resonate around the country: we won’t go back.

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Joan Malin is President and CEO of Planned Parenthood NYC. On Twitter @PPNYCAction.

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