BREAKING: Hochul commits $35 million to expand abortion access in New York

Gov. Kathy Hochul participates in a Planned Parenthood rally outside the State Capitol in Albany. May, 3, 2022.
Photo courtesy of Mike Groll/Office of Governor Kathy Hochul

Gov. Kathy Hochul Tuesday announced her administration is committing $35 million to give reproductive health centers around the state additional resources following the draft U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade leaked to the press last week.

“To truly ensure that anyone seeking an abortion in New York has access to that, we have to make sure that the providers have the resources and the capacity to accommodate all of the patients that walk through their doors,” Hochul said during a virtual press conference. “It’s simple, if we’re going to guarantee the right to an abortion, we have to guarantee access to an abortion. And as I said last week, we’re not just playing defense, we’re playing offense. And that’s why we’re taking immediate action starting today to deliver $35 million in unprecedented funding to urgently support abortion providers to provide access and this vital care.

The “abortion services provider fund” – which will be run by the state Department of Health – will direct $25 million to help abortion providers prepare for the influx of people coming from out-of-state seeking abortions in New York by expanding capacity and access to care, the governor said.

This is the “largest fund of its kind in our nation,” Hochul said. “One other state has a similar fund. But nowhere near this scale. We’re the first large state to launch this direct support for abortion providers here in the state of New York.”

Plus, an additional $10 million in security grants will go to ensuring that abortion service providers have proper security.

“We also have to make sure that these facilities are safe,” Hochul said. “That the workers who go there, the clinical staff, the healthcare providers, the doctors, as well as the patients, know that they are safe when they walk down the street and enter the doors because we are in a very different time right now. No one should feel unsafe accessing abortion care. And no one should feel unsafe providing that healthcare as well. So we have to be proactive, we have to get these security measures in place now.”

If Roe – a 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion across the country – is indeed overturned, it will be left up to individual states to determine the legality of abortion. The overturning of the decision would allow several states that have been trying to ban abortion for decades to finally outlaw the practice. And it would likely send waves of people in those states seeking abortions to New York and other states where it’s legal regardless of Roe.

In response to a reporter’s question, Hochul said the dollars to support this is coming from the state Health Commissioner’s emergency fund, which is already in place and doesn’t need to be added to the state budget. The money will be given out to reproductive health centers, Hochul added, through grants and reimbursements.

Hochul, who’s currently in a competitive Democratic gubernatorial primary, said that as the first woman governor protecting abortion rights is deeply personal.

“As the first female governor of the state of New York, this is a fight I am willing to take on,” Hochul said. “We’ll roll up our sleeves and let people know where our values are. We’re not backing down and will not stand idly by when the rights of women across the entire nation are destroyed.”

State Sen. Liz Kruger said it’s “very meaningful” that Hochul is allocating this funding to protect abortion and it speaks to the kind of governor she thought Hochul would be.

“I couldn’t be prouder of our Governor, Kathy Hochul, for doing exactly what many of us knew that she would do,” Kruger said. “She would immediately come out, stand up for women, stand up and protect abortion rights in our state. And realize that because of the insanity happening at the Supreme Court, and then at least 26 other states in the country, that New York was going to need to stand up to help abortion refugees, who would seek out health care services across state lines coming to New York for assistance.”

Michelle Casey, the CEO of Planned Parenthood of Central and Western New York, said clinics in their network are already preparing for the potential influx of patients seeking abortions from states where it will no longer be legal.

“We are expanding clinics in Buffalo and Rochester to increase the number of people we can serve,” Casey said. “We are recruiting staff to ensure we have people to see the extra patients we are going to need to care for. We’re also going to be bringing on patient care navigators to help people find their way to services. We will do all we can to help people for as long as they need it. I think this is going to be a really long haul.”