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2016 Legislative Session Made Gains for Women and Families but Stalled on Necessary Safeguards for Reproductive Health Leaving New Yorkers at Risk

New Yorkers saw efforts to ease the burdens on working families and improve the economic health of New York’s women and families.

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Washington, DC - June 21, 2016 - New Yorkers saw efforts to ease the burdens on working families and improve the economic health of New York’s women and families. However, critical reproductive health care legislation ensuring access to affordable contraception, and protecting women’s reproductive health and autonomy, was left untouched by the Senate Majority.

While both houses passed legislation central to the everyday struggles women experience caught between the demands of their family life and the workplace with the Paid Family Leave Act, recognized that menstruation shouldn’t come with a monthly tax, and that more could be done to detect breast cancer, only the Assembly passed legislation central to reproductive health, rights and justice.

“The New York State Senate Majority’s continued refusal to act on legislation central to a women’s health and self-determination, including access to contraception, as well as abortion, is alarming,” said Kim Atkins, Board Chair, Family Planning Advocates of New York State. “With nationwide attempts to restrict reproductive health care ongoing, the Senate Majority’s failure to act on the Comprehensive Contraception Coverage Act (CCCA) was a glaring omission in light of New York’s reputation as a leader in women’s rights.”

The CCCA breaks down barriers to affordable and accessible birth control by: ensuring health insurance coverage for a broad range of contraceptive methods so that women can obtain the birth control that is right for them--without costly restrictions or copays, providing timely and affordable access to over-the-counter emergency contraception; and allowing for up to a year’s supply of birth control at one time. New York ranks in the top three states in the nation for unintended pregnancy.

Public health policies that improve access to contraception can help reduce unintended pregnancy and abortion, and improve health outcomes. This legislation is a common-sense approach to ensure New Yorkers have access to the care needed to fulfill their educational, economic and family aspirations.

“For years, the Senate Majority has thwarted advancement of legislation that would simply align New York’s abortion law with the existing federal law. This session, they refused to advance legislation that would simply make birth control more affordable and accessible.” said Kim Atkins, Board Chair, Family Planning Advocates of New York State. “When 99% of women use contraception at some point in their lifetime, it is unthinkable that we are unable to advance legislation that would put safeguards in place to ensure access to this fundamental health care.”

Other reproductive justice legislation advanced by the Assembly again this year but left untouched by the Senate included:

  • The Boss Bill, which ensures protections for employees in our state from retaliation, based on their personal health care decisions. Following the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision, this is a common sense safeguard for New Yorkers.
  • The Reproductive Services Act which aligns New York State’s abortion law with federal law to ensure the health care we’ve had since the 1970’s remains in place.

“Governor Cuomo and the New York State Assembly, led by Speaker Carl Heastie, supported and safeguarded primary and preventative reproductive health care, and continued to move forward towards full equity and equality for everyone, both at home and in the work place,” said Kim Atkins, Board Chair, Family Planning Services of New York State. “Unfortunately, the Senate Majority refused to work in partnership to guarantee New Yorkers necessary and fundamental reproductive health care access and safeguards.”

Family Planning Advocates of New York State is a non-profit, statewide organization dedicated to protecting and expanding access to a full range of reproductive health care services. It represents New York’s Planned Parenthood affiliates and other family planning centers.

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