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Hochul sets new agenda for abortion rights in NY. fixed

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As she stood in front of the Women’s Rights Pioneers statue in New York’s Central Park to denounce Texas’s harsh new abortion law, Governor Kathy Hochul spoke about her own first pregnancy. “I can guarantee that when I was six weeks old I didn’t know that I was pregnant with my first child,” said Hochul. “I actually did a white water rafting trip when I was three months old because I didn’t know I was pregnant. That is the reality of real people. ”She is the first female governor in the history of the state who can speak in this way about the right to procreation and abortion, the first to have personal experience with carrying children and dealing with issues of the has physical autonomy.

It wasn’t the first time Hochul had criticized Texas law since the US Supreme Court took it into effect on September 1. And it probably won’t be her last, as she steps into the limelight like no New York governor before as she faces re-election. On Monday, Hochul announced several parts of a new agenda to promote abortion rights and education in New York.

Surrounded by abortion advocates and elected officials, including Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, MP Carolyn Maloney, and Senate majority leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Hochul said she wanted to tie some “loose ends” that the Reproductive Health Act didn’t be treated. which enshrined a person’s right to abortion in state law in 2019. “First and foremost, we want to make sure that New York patients and everyone who comes knows their rights,” said Hochul. “You don’t know your rights, you might as well not have them.” To that end, she said she directed government agencies – particularly the Department of Health – to launch an awareness campaign to ensure that everyone in New York had their rights in relation to them on access to abortion knows. This also includes an advance directive that is distributed to doctors’ practices and clinics.

Hochul also said she will instruct the health department to create updated guidelines for health care providers regarding the abortion and reproductive rights laws they must follow. This is in part to help Texas women looking to New York for abortion treatments under restrictive laws that prohibit abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected about six weeks after pregnancy. “Our port is open to people who come here and understand that we will be there to take care of them and protect them,” said Hochul.

However, the agenda announced by Hochul lacked new legislation that would further enshrine the right to abortion and provide support to the women who seek it. Instead, it focused on disseminating information about a law that was passed over three years ago. Several bills are currently awaiting action by the legislature and could have priority in the upcoming session. A bill sponsored by Rochester State Senator Samra Brouk and Queens Assembly Representative Jessica González-Rojas, both of whom were absent at Hochul’s well-attended press conference, would require all state insurers to cover abortions. Another sponsored by Bronx State Senator Alessandra Biaggi and Bronx Congregation Representative Karines Reyes – neither of whom were in attendance – would set up an abortion care fund administered by the state and funded by voluntary donations from New Yorkers on their tax forms. “It’s about things like transportation, it’s about the actual abortion procedure itself,” Biaggi recently told City & State. “Roe v. Codifying Wade was an amazing feat that we did, and we did it. But it’s not enough either. “

The state has the New York Abortion Access Fund, a nonprofit volunteer-run fund, but the state does not participate in it. New York City made history in 2019 when it added $ 250,000 for the Volunteer Fund to its 2020 budget year. Activists said it was the first time a US city had directly funded abortions. State legislation would also be a historic first, as no state has ever run such a fund that provides money directly for abortion and abortion-related care. New York is already paying for abortion assistance for low-income people through Medicaid, one of a small minority of states that do so voluntarily.

When asked if she supported the Abortion Fund Act, Hochul initially said that she would “look at” it if she mistakenly thought the law was passed and was waiting for her signature. When it was pointed out that the calculation had yet to happen, Hochul changed her melody. “Then it won’t be on my desk, but I support it,” she said, ignoring whether it would be one of her legislative priorities in the next session or in her first budget. In a statement to City & State, Biaggi said she was “happy to hear” Hochul supports the law and looks forward to working with her and legislative leaders to get it passed at the next session. In a text message, Reyes said she had not yet spoken to Hochul or her staff about the legislation, but reiterated Biaggi’s point of view. “Hopefully the governor can help us get our bill through the legislature, and these are talks we will have when we go to the next session,” Reyes wrote.

And abortion law advocates were encouraged by Hochul’s announcements on Monday, even though they would have liked to see additional laws on their agenda. “What the governor proposed today is a really important change that we are very excited about,” Danielle Castaldi-Micca, vice president of politics and government for the National Institute for Reproductive Health Action Fund, told City & State. “And we are also confident that she will work with us on legislation in the future. I just think that given the rapidly changing situation, she was unable to talk about legislation. “

This “rapidly changing situation” has enabled Hochul to delve into a national issue that was not mentioned as an early priority when she took office. Much like when the remnants of Hurricane Ida hit New York, this opened the door for her to talk about climate change, another topic that apparently wasn’t on her radar when she abruptly assumed the governor’s office. “We were a little preoccupied with a hurricane at that moment,” Hochul said on September 1, when the Texan abortion law was ratified. “But I didn’t know that another hurricane was brewing in the capital of our country.”

The press conference in Central Park was the second time Hochul gave a major speech about the Texas ban on abortion. On September 9, she participated in a boisterous rally for the right to abortion in Brooklyn, where she declared that women are “sick and tired” when lawmakers make their reproductive health decisions legal. “Get your damn hands off our bodies!” She said while highlighting the difficulties she faced running for local office and Congress as an abortion rights politician in a more conservative part of the state.

Hochul has highlighted her stance on abortion law in the past, particularly in her 2018 Democratic primary campaign against New York public advocate Jumaane Williams. She attacked Williams for earlier statements saying he did not personally support abortion while positioning himself as an advocate for lifelong abortion rights.

With the Texas Abortion Act and the Supreme Court ruling putting reproductive rights back in the limelight, Hochul has again the opportunity to honestly promote her women’s rights while distancing herself from working for former Governor Andrew Cuomo.

At the press conference, Hochul also said she would instruct the health department to ensure state regulations are updated so people can access abortion medicine through telemedicine. And she said she would send a letter to Facebook asking for help tackling misinformation about abortion on social media. All announcements were cheered by a defiantly spirited crowd. When she finished her speech, she said, “I’m going forward, I’m not going back, and I’ll take each of you with me.”

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