Legislation rolled out by a group of Democratic City Council members Thursday would make abortion pills available for free at dozens of health clinics across the five boroughs — an effort aimed directly at counteracting the Supreme Court’s recent reversal of the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling on reproductive rights.
The bill, which is part of a package of Council legislation seeking to expand abortion access in the city, would require all Department of Health clinics, stations and centers to provide free access to mifepristone and misoprostol. The two medications are commonly taken together and can terminate a pregnancy that is less than 10 weeks along.
Manhattan Councilwoman Carlina Rivera, a sponsor of the bill, said proof of health insurance or immigration status will not be required to get the pills. People who don’t live in New York will also be able to receive them free of charge at Health Department facilities, and Rivera said the Council is even exploring the possibility of allowing the city to mail the pills to residents in other states.
“That is absolutely our hope,” Rivera told the Daily News. “This legislation provides the framework for our city government to fight like hell to secure safe, legal and easily accessible abortion care for everyone.”
According to a Council fact sheet, the legislative package that contains Rivera’s bill would also formally designate New York City as a “safe city for all those in need of abortion-related care;” require the Department of Health to provide regular reports on the state of abortion care in the city, and prohibit the use of city dollars to help enforce abortion restrictions imposed by other states, among other actions.
Additionally, Bronx Councilwoman Amanda Farias, who chairs the Council’s Women’s Caucus, said she’s in talks with Mayor Adams about allocating more public dollars for expanding abortion access in the city — a proposal the mayor voiced support for at a recent press conference.
The blitz of abortion-related legislative proposals comes less than a week after the Supreme Court’s conservative majority struck down Roe v. Wade as unconstitutional.
Roe, which was decided by the Supreme Court in 1973 and upheld in 1992, declared access to abortion a constitutional right on a federal level.
The elimination of the longstanding Roe precedent handed over say on abortions rights to individual states.
Within hours of last week’s earth-shattering ruling, abortion became illegal in several Republican-led states, including Texas and Alabama, as a result of so-called “trigger laws” passed by GOP-dominated Legislatures in anticipation of the top court’s Roe reversal.
Brooklyn Councilwoman Shahana Hanif said pushback against the Supreme Court should not be limited to Council action.
She pleaded with lawmakers in Albany and on Capitol Hill to also take a variety of steps to safeguard abortion rights — and called on average Americans to act as well.
“This is an opportunity for us to get organized, militant and revolutionary,” said Hanif.