The State of New York is a destination for many tourists. People travel from other states to visit the Empire State for its natural beauty, for its history, and for its arts and culture. Sadly, because of New York’s lax abortion laws, women also visit our state to have abortions.
The case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization is giving the Supreme Court of the United States a golden opportunity to rethink the so-called “right” to abortion. If the Court takes that opportunity and opens the door for states to ban or significantly limit abortion access, it is entirely possible that many more women will come to New York to seek abortions.
If New York Attorney General Letitia James has her way, the Empire State will begin using your tax dollars to fund abortions for out-of-state women. On December 1, 2021, the Attorney General proposed that the state “‘establish a dedicated fund that would help support and provide financial resources to women across the country so that they could continue to make their own reproductive choices.’” Monies from the fund would cover not only abortion fees, but also travel and lodging. According to the Attorney General, “‘for nearly 50 years, anti-choice radicals have tried to undo the progress created under Roe by stripping away a woman’s right to control her body, her choices, and her freedoms… While we remain committed to fighting Mississippi’s unconstitutional abortion ban, we must be ready to support women in Mississippi and a host of other states if this dangerous law is upheld. We, here in New York, must set up a fund to ensure that any woman, anywhere in the country, can look to New York as a safe haven that will allow them to make the reproductive health care decisions that are best for them.’” While Attorney General James is no longer running for Governor, she will likely have little difficulty in persuading Gov. Kathy Hochul to push for an out-of-state abortion fund; the Governor has said that she is “‘open to exploring any proposals to further protect abortion access in our state.’” In fact, a small-scale version of a similar fund already exists in New York City.
What can pro-life New Yorkers do about the potential for abortion tourism? First, we must relentlessly work against any proposal to use state funds for out-of-state abortion access. Second, we must help our pro-life pregnancy centers prepare to face increased demand for their services. Jonathan Keller, president and CEO of the California Family Council, NYCF’s counterpart organization in the Golden State, has said that pregnancy centers in his pro-abortion state are considering increasing their staffing. Keller noted, “‘Even if we are not facing any immediate legislative opportunities or legislative victories, it’s a reminder that the work of changing hearts and minds and also providing real support and resources to women facing unplanned pregnancies — that work will always continue.’”