The leak of the draft Roe v. Wade opinion has sent a shockwave throughout the country. Unfortunately, for those who have fought, organized and voted to safeguard access to safe abortions, the Supreme Court’s move is not a surprise. In 2018, I helped organize the mass mobilizations that brought thousands of people to Washington to protest Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the high court.
For 32 days in a row, we occupied congressional offices, urging senators to listen to women’s voices. We engaged in daily acts of disruption and civil disobedience because we understood that Kavanaugh’s presence in the court would mean the end of Roe v. Wade, rolling back decades of progress on women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, civil rights and more.
During these protests, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford courageously shared her story. I, like thousands of other survivors, was inspired to speak publicly for the first time about my own experience as a survivor. In a moment that went viral, I confronted then-Sen. Jeff Flake in an elevator and urged him to consider the message he was sending to women by confirming someone accused of sexual assault to the Supreme Court. Washington didn’t listen to our voices then, and now we are all facing the consequences.
With Supreme Court justices unwilling to safeguard abortion rights and with an attempt to codify Roe v. Wade into federal law unlikely to get to the president’s desk, it’s clear we cannot rely on Washington to protect us. New York must step up immediately to meet this moment — expanding resources for and access to abortions and becoming a destination state for all people seeking care.
Legislators are presenting clear proposals to do just that. We need the governor and lieutenant governor to support them.
In 2019, state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi led, with others, efforts to codify Roe v. Wade in New York State. Just this week, state Sen. Cordell Cleare and Assemblywoman Jessica González-Rojas proposed legislation that would create and fund a program to expand abortion access to New Yorkers and to people living in other states where it’s banned. This is exactly the type of action we need from our leaders. Dozens of legislators have already signed on, and the full Legislature should rise to the occasion and pass the bill. Gov. Hochul should then sign it.
To make it easier for New Yorkers and others across the country to access a safe abortion, this program should work with local organizations like the Haven Coalition who are supporting travel and housing for folks who come to New York City for care, as well as with the New York Abortion Access Fund to facilitate funding abortion care outright.
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Our state should also shield those potentially prosecuted by other states for seeking abortions, similar to a bill that Connecticut recently passed.
We must protect abortion clinics from those who intimidate people seeking care, and crack down on deceptive Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs) that masquerade as healthcare providers clinics while seeking to deter those seeking abortions from having one. Tragically, there are more CPC’s in New York City than abortion providers. This disappointment must stop.
Finally, New York must pass the Equality Amendment to our state Constitution to protect women, pregnant people, people of color, and more from discrimination.
The governor has called for Washington to act and yesterday announced she was allocating $35 million to fund abortion providers. Sadly, it’s not nearly enough, and, with the state budget closed, it’s not clear where that money is coming from. Cleare and Gonzalez-Rojas’s bill goes much further. Their bill includes substantially more funding, with resources for capacity building, including staffing, recruitment and construction of clinics, as needed; uncompensated care for those who are underinsured and uninsured, including undocumented people; and practical needs to actually access abortion, like transportation and childcare. The governor should support their bill, as Attorney General Letitia James has.
Meanwhile, Rep. Antonio Delgado, who will run alongside Hochul as her choice for lieutenant governor, has spoken about reproductive rights at various events without mentioning the word “abortion.” If you’re going to fight for something, you must be able to say the word. Hiding the ball is how we got here in the first place.
To honor the courage of people who fought and paved the way for reproductive freedom and justice, we must work tirelessly to ensure that New York is equipped to provide safe abortions to those in need of care and that New York becomes a beacon for people seeking to live with dignity.
Archila is a Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor.