New York City to directly fund abortion, in a historic first

New York City will become the first city nationwide to directly fund abortion, thanks to a budget deal announced Friday.

Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) and City Council Speaker Corey Johnson (D) included $250,000 for the New York Abortion Access Fund (NYAAF) in a $92.8 billion budget agreement for the 2019-20 fiscal year, which begins July 1.

New York City already funds Planned Parenthood, but the organization’s affiliates don’t just help patients terminate a pregnancy. Friday’s budget agreement marks the first time the city, or any for that matter, is directly funding abortion. The money is expected to help over 500 patients access care annually.

NYAAF is an abortion fund which aspires to remove financial and logistical barriers to accessing abortion. Although abortion is technically legal, it’s especially hard for marginalized patients to access care. Most people who depend on these funds are people of color, tracking with U.S. poverty trends.

The National Network of Abortion Funds recognizes 76 independently run funds in 41 states.

NYAAF currently helps low-income patients living or traveling to the state by directly providing financial assistance. The organization reimburses clinics if a patient’s insurance won’t cover the associated costs and they can’t afford to pay out of pocket. Abortion care can cost anywhere between $523 to $3000, depending how far along a pregnancy is. NYAAF has already provided grants to women and gender minorities traveling to access abortion in New York from a variety of states and territories, including New Jersey, Texas and Bermuda, according to its website.

New York City’s decision to fund abortion comes as Republican-controlled states have been making it harder to access abortion care. Nine states outlawed abortion in virtually all circumstances in 2019, though none of those bans have taken effect. Abortion rights foes hope legal challenges to the bans will lead the conservative-leaning Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, which established the right to abortion in 1973.


“New York City’s leaders made a loud and clear statement: no matter where you live or how much money you make, New York City is here for you,” Andrea Miller, president of The National Institute for Reproductive Health Action Fund, said in a statement.

“The numerous abortion bans coming out of hostile state legislatures across this country have pushed abortion care out of reach for millions and often punish those seeking or providing abortions. But once again, New York is leading the charge when it comes to protecting and advancing a woman’s right to make her own decisions about her body, life, and future,” she added.

New York is one of the few states expanding abortion access. This week, the governors in Maine and Illinois signed proactive measures into law, including expanding the number of abortion providers statewide by allowing nurse practitioners and physician assistants to perform abortions. Maine also lifted Medicaid restrictions, allowing public insurance to pay for abortion in all circumstances. Illinois also codified the right to abortion up to viability (which the medical community says is around 24 weeks) and after that, if a doctor deems it necessary.

New York was the first state to pass a bill to codify Roe. The Reproductive Health Act, which removed abortion from the state’s criminal code and cemented the right to abortion, was signed into law on the anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision.

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