New York City set to become 1st city to fund abortion services

The funding is part of the city's 2020 budget.

June 15, 2019, 2:22 AM

Tucked away in a $92.5 billion budget, agreed to with a handshake deal between Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Corey Johnson on Friday, was an agreement to make New York City the first city in the country to fund abortion services.

The New York Abortion Access Fund will provide $250,000 from the budget to help low-income citizens access abortion services.

The funding was championed by the council's Women's Caucus, led by co-chairs Margaret Chin and Carlina Rivera.

"Before Roe v Wade, NYC was a haven for women who wanted the freedom to choose," Rivera wrote on Twitter. "It's time for our City to be that beacon for the country once again."

The council is required to vote on the budget before July 1, but passage is expected as a formality.

Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court ruling that protects a woman's right to choose whether or not to have an abortion, has come under assault more than ever in recent months. Multiple states have instituted severely restrictive bans on abortion, often only allowing them when the mother's life is at risk.

Georgia, Missouri, Ohio, Alabama, Kentucky and Mississippi are among the states to pass some of the most restrictive bans, often labeled "heartbeat" bans, for not allowing the procedure after a fetal heartbeat is detected.

In all, 17 bans have been signed in 10 states in 2019 -- but every type of ban is facing a legal challenge, and none of the laws have been enacted.

Many conservative politicians and activists hope those legal challenges will be appealed up to the Supreme Court, where recent Donald Trump appointees Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch have tipped the power, 5-4, in favor of conservative judges.

Other states, including New York, have gone in the opposite direction -- passing protections for a woman's right to choose whether to have an abortion.

Demonstrators take part in a protest against abortion bans, Tuesday, May 21, 2019, at the state Capitol in St. Paul, Minn.
Christine T. Nguyen/Minnesota Public Radio via AP

New York City is the first municipality to actually provide funding for those in need, though.

"This was an initiative coming out of the council, but I certainly support it," De Blasio said at a press conference Friday. "We understand that there are women who need help and are having trouble getting the help they need. And the city had an opportunity here to step up."

De Blasio is currently running for the Democratic nomination for president in 2020. He has been an outspoken advocate for abortion access and supports the repeal of the Hyde Amendment, which doesn't allow federal funding for abortion services.

"I am proud that we are doing this," Johnson said Friday. "This is to help low-income women in New York City who have faced barriers to access to health care, get the care that they need and that they deserve.

"And what typically happens when abortion care is restricted across the country, wealthier women still can get abortions because they can fly to places and drive across state lines to get abortions. But what happens is low-income women, predominately women of color, are the ones that are locked out of the health care system and aren’t able to have abortion access."

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