At a September 13, 2021 event in Manhattan’s Central Park, Gov. Kathy Hochul laid out her agenda for advancing abortion access in the Empire State and tying up “‘loose ends’” contained in the 2019 abortion expansion law known as the Reproductive Health Act (RHA). That agenda includes:
- Causing state agencies to conduct an education campaign about abortion access, complete with a “patients’ bill of rights” to be distributed at doctors’ offices and health clinics;
- Directing the Department of Health to put forth a guidance document created by abortion experts;
- Making sure that telehealth services can be used to facilitate pill abortions; and
- Clarifying the “full scope of individual provider discretion under the Reproductive Health Act.” This language is particularly ominous. It hints that the Hochul administration may issue regulations allowing non-physicians to perform abortions in New York. Language in the RHA opened the door to such regulations.
Gov. Hochul also expressed support for Bill S.758-Biaggi/A.1926-Reyes, which would create an abortion access fund to which taxpayers would have the opportunity to donate.
At a previous event on September 9, Gov. Hochul used inflammatory and misleading rhetoric in discussing abortion. Her September 13 remarks were similarly problematic. Describing the Texas Heartbeat Law as “‘grotesquely unfair,’” the Governor asserted that “‘extremists’” must be prevented from “‘taking women’s rights away.’” Gov. Hochul also expressed a desire to make New York a “‘safe harbor’” for abortion-minded women from other states. Kathleen Gallagher, Director of Pro-Life Activities for the New York State Catholic Conference, was incredulous: “‘Is there anybody in this country that doesn’t know that New York is the abortion capital of the world already?’”
In a move that has disturbing free-speech implications, Gov. Hochul has written to Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook to ask him to “curb the spread of misinformation” about abortion laws and policies. In her letter, the Governor asserted—without offering a single specific instance—that Facebook is replete with “false claims about abortion procedures and reproductive health legislation.” Gov. Hochul added that “the goal behind these posts is clear: to sow fear, confusion, and shame, and to advance an agenda to control women’s bodies.’” Demonstrating a commitment to using “transgender”-friendly terminology, the Governor concluded by stating that “New York is leading the fight to ensure that every woman and birthing person has access to abortion care.”
Throughout his 10 ½ year-stint as governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo demonstrated his unyielding commitment to abortion. Based on Gov. Hochul’s words and actions over the past few weeks, it is possible that she is even more zealous about abortion access than he was. Friends, we have a new battle on our hands.