While it’s been 44 years since the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Roe v. Wade, women’s reproductive rights still remain a highly controversial topic.
In 2016, antiabortion advocates passed 30 laws in 14 states that make it harder for people to obtain access to an abortion, as noted by the Washington Post, and 31 states have already established laws and regulations that make it more challenging for a woman to get an abortion.
But, New York State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. has announced that he aided in passing two vital pieces of legislation that strengthen and defend women’s reproductive rights. The legislation upholds a woman’s right to an abortion in New York State (A.1748), and with the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which requires insurance providers to cover contraception and preventive services at no cost, at jeopardy of being repealed, A.1378 requires insurers to continue covering contraception at no cost to the consumer.
“From coast to coast, women are fighting for their reproductive freedom, pushing back against what seems to be never-ending attacks on their rights,” Assemblyman Thiele explained. “Over and over, we hear politicians arguing about what’s best for women, as if it’s their decision to make. Let me be clear: A woman and her doctor know what’s best for her health – not the government and not an insurance company.”
Within the first few weeks of 2017, at least 46 anti-choice bills have been presented or are awaiting decision in state legislatures nationwide, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a research and policy organization that supports abortion rights.
As President-elect Donald Trump, an anti-choice president, takes office and a Supreme Court seat remains open, Assemblyman Thiele says now is the time to take action.
“Not only is the right to choose under attack – this battle for equality stretches much further than that. Planned Parenthood is under attack, basic health care is under attack, our futures are under attack, and I refuse to sit back and do nothing,” Assemblyman Thiele noted. “It’s up to New York State to be a leader and stand up for reproductive freedom.” Both the President-elect and Vice President-elect Mike Pence are in favor of cutting funding to Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest single provider of reproductive health services, including cancer screening, HIV screening and counseling, contraception, and abortion.
The Assembly has remained dedicated to guaranteeing that New York is a place where a woman’s constitutionally guaranteed right to choose is respected and safeguarded. The first piece of legislature that was passed on January 18th maintains a woman’s right to end a pregnancy within 24 weeks, or when the pregnancy is not viable, or risks her life or health. It highlights the fact that the mission of medical laws and regulations should be to advance the quality and accessibility of health care, not subject patients and provides to undue burdens.
The Comprehensive Contraception Coverage Act, which requires health insurers to cover all FDA-approved contraceptive drugs, devices and products when they are prescribed by a health care provider (A.1378), was also passed. While religious employers will still be able to request an insurance policy that does not include contraceptive methods under the legislation, it guarantees coverage for emergency contraception, voluntary sterilization, patient education and counseling and all related follow-up care, and bans insurance companies from charging co-pays, co-insurance payments and deductibles for contraception. The legislation also prohibits insurance companies from imposing any restrictions or delays in regards to such coverage.
“We can’t allow the progress we’ve made in the fight for full women’s equality to be undone – not now, not ever,” he added.