Students and elected officials gathered near Columbia University Wednesday to rally in support for Assembly Bill A3322A and Senate Bill S9444A, which would expand access to abortion by requiring all SUNY and CUNY campus health centers offer medication abortions. Assembly Members Harvey Epstein and Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas and state Senator Cordell Cleare were on hand to advocate for passage of the bills.
Organizations present included the Reproductive Justice Collective, the Reproductive Justice Initiative (a part of Columbia School of Social Work), Planned Parenthood Generation Action, United University Professions, and the Professional Staff Congress at CUNY.
“Abortion is health care. Students need health care just like everyone else across our state. Students need access to reproductive care when they’re on campus. If you’re in a SUNY school, you could be 70, 80, 90 miles away to be able to get access to reproductive care. How is that a state where we believe in reproductive freedom?” said Assembly Member Epstein.
The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade in June prompted measures that would help New York continue leading the way for reproductive rights. Even New York City abortion centers saw an uptick in out-of-state patients, the New York City City Council recently celebrated the signing of the New York City Abortion Rights Act, which expanded access to reproductive health care to protect those seeking care.
On the state level, Gov. Kathy Hochul had already announced a $35 million investment in support of abortion providers in June. She then added another $13.4 million in October. Hochul also in June signed a legislative package that protected abortion rights, including S.9077A/A.10372A, which provides legal protection for abortion providers. During the recent gubernatorial election, Hochul made abortion a central issue in her campaign, “The reason their abortion rights are protected in the state of New York is because I’m their governor” Hochul said at the time she was running.
While much effort has been made to ensure New York stays a safe haven for reproductive rights, patients still carry the burden of worrying about anti-abortion protestors when they enter abortion clinics. Actvists said providing medication abortion on campuses will add a layer of safety as it removes these factors. Activists also say due to the uptick in out-of-state patients, allowing providing medication abortions on campus would allow healthcare providers to keep up with the demand.
Currently, both bills are in committee.
“This bill will transform lives. It will allow people to determine if and when they want to have a family. It will allow people to get healthcare in a safe space where they know their providers, they know their student community, faculty community, it is critical… This bill has to get passed,” said Assembly Member Gonzalez-Rojas.