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Assembly member González-Rojas expands reproductive health education with new legislation

Jessica González-Rojas. (Angélica Acevedo/QNS)

On July 16, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation sponsored by Assembly member Jessica González-Rojas allowing the New York State Department of Health to educate and provide treatment options regarding preeclampsia. 

Preeclampsia is caused by high blood pressure after the 20th week of pregnancy. If it goes untreated or undetected, it can lead to organ damage, strokes, seizures, premature birth and death. However, in many cases, preeclampsia is preventable or can be detected early. 

The recently signed legislation was inspired by Lian Gravelle, a constituent of the district represented by Senator Jeremy Cooney, who also sponsored the bill. Gravelle passed away six months after giving birth to twin boys from preeclampsia complications. 

“Lian educated new mothers about dangerous maternal health conditions, such as preeclampsia,” Cooney said. “Although we tragically lost [Gravelle], her spirit is embodied in this lifesaving legislation.”

The law will provide thorough education to patients and training for healthcare providers of maternal health services.

“I spent my career in reproductive health care and this is something that is going to save lives,” González-Rojas said. 

González-Rojas said that this legislation perfectly aligns with her goals as an elected official looking to prioritize women’s health and reproductive rights. Prior to running for office, she ran a nonprofit called the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, working to make health care accessible. 

“I see the implications when people don’t have information about maternal reproductive healthcare, there are consequences,” González-Rojas said. “There are often social determinants of health based on immigration status, insurance status or the language you speak. My goal is to break those barriers and pass legislation that’s going to ensure our communities have access to the healthcare they need.”

The bill was widely supported, with 35 sponsors made up of both Republican and Democratic state senators and assembly members. 

Once the bill was signed into law, González-Rojas called Gravelle’s husband.

“It was very emotional. I’m very grateful for him lending her name to this bill,” González-Rojas said. “We carry this in her honor.”

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