Less than a week after Senate Republicans successfully began chipping away at the Affordable Care Act—and, with it, the right to copay-free contraception—the New York State Assembly last night passed the Comprehensive Contraception Coverage Act, which would require insurers in New York to provide copay-free coverage for all FDA-approved contraceptives. Emergency contraception like Plan B, which typically costs at least $50 without a prescription, would be covered over the counter—an expansion on the ACA. Male contraception would be covered, as well.
The final vote was 103-43, marking the second time in as many years that the Assembly has passed the act.
"The Trump regime has made it unmistakably clear that they cannot be counted on to respect a woman's ownership of her body and her destiny," said New York Civil Liberties Union Director Donna Lieberman in a statement. "That's why New York must act now to protect women's rights. The State Assembly has taken an important first step to resist the Trump agenda."
The Assembly also passed, for the second time, the Reproductive Health Act—legislation that would codify Roe v. Wade at the state level, protecting the right to abortion in New York in the face of conservative Supreme Court appointments. The vote was 97-49. While New York legalized most abortions in 1970, ahead of the national curve, its current laws are more strict than Roe v. Wade. The Supreme Court ruling enshrines a woman's right to a late term abortion after 24 weeks if the pregnancy threatens her health. While in New York, currently, abortion is only ensured if the doctor has reason to believe the pregnant woman's life is at stake.
Both reproductive rights acts still have to pass the Republican-led Senate, which has a historically anti-abortion bent. The Senate Health Committee rejected the RHA last spring with a vote of 9-7. The CCCA also stalled on the Senate floor in 2016.
Last fall, we spoke to a leading anti-abortion lobbyist in Albany, who said she was bolstered by Trump's victory. "We're going to continue to work against this extreme legislation," said Barbara Meara, chairman of New York State Right To Life, of the RHA. "We think it's very dangerous."
Meara was less versed on the contraception access legislation, which has bipartisan support, and is sponsored by Republican Senator John Bonacic.
"We urge the Senate, which has historically refused to vote on legislation like the RHA and the CCCA, to at last bring New York state's outdated abortion law in line with the standard set in Roe v. Wade," stated National Institute for Reproductive Health President Andrea Miller. "And preserve women's access to contraception independent of the ACA."
The governor's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but Richard Azzopardi, a spokesman for Governor Andrew Cuomo, recently spoke in favor of the RHA. "Now that no one is under the delusion that protecting the right to choose is purely a federal issue, we urge our partners in government to join us and take action," he said following the November election.
Planned Parenthood is hosting a lobby day in Albany on January 30th to make a big push for both acts. You can register to attend here.