In the midst of a national groundswell of support for women’s rights culminating in today’s Women’s March on Washington, New York State Assemblyman Fred Thiele announced Wednesday that he voted to pass two pieces of legislation to protect women’s reproductive rights.
The measures affirm a woman’s right to an abortion in New York State and require 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,” said Mr. Thiele in Wednesday’s announcement. “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.”
In 2016, 14 states passed new laws to further restrict the right to an abortion, and so far this year, at least 46 anti-choice bills have been introduced or are pending in state legislatures across the country, said Mr. Thiele.
“It’s been nearly 44 years since the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Roe v. Wade, and yet the threat to women’s reproductive rights is as alarming and real as ever,” said Mr. Thiele. “With an anti-choice president about to take office with a Supreme Court vacancy to fill, the time to fight back is now.”
On Tuesday, Jan. 17, the State Assembly passed legislation to protect a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy within 24 weeks, or when the pregnancy is not viable, or endangers her life or health (A.1748).
“The legislation emphasizes that the goal of medical laws and regulations should be to improve the quality and availability of health care, not to place undue burdens on patients and providers,” said Mr. Thiele.
The second piece of Assembly legislation, the Comprehensive Contraception Coverage Act, A.1378, requires health insurers to cover all FDA-approved contraceptive drugs, devices and products when they are prescribed by a health care provider.
The legislation leaves in place existing state law that allows religious employers to request an insurance policy that does not cover contraceptive methods. The federal Affordable Care Act requires insurance providers to cover contraception and preventive services at no cost to the consumer.
“But with the ACA in peril, it’s time New York takes action to ensure this vital coverage doesn’t disappear for the countless women and men who depend on it,” said Mr Thiele.
“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,” said Mr. Thiele. “It’s up to New York State to be a leader and stand up for reproductive freedom. We can’t allow the progress we’ve made in the fight for full women’s equality to be undone — not now, not ever.”
North Fork State Assemblyman Anthony Palumbo voted against both measures.
Both bills were delivered to the State Senate on Jan. 17.