Hochul announces measures to clarify New York as abortion safe haven

FILE PHOTO: Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul in Albany, New York
New York Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul speaks during a news conference the day after Governor Andrew Cuomo announced his resignation at the New York State Capitol, in Albany, New York, U.S., Aug. 11, 2021. (REUTERS/Cindy Schultz/File Photo)

Governor Kathy Hochul announced new measures Monday intended to position New York as a safe haven for those seeking abortions, in the wake of Texas’ passage of an ultra-restrictive abortion law which the Supreme Court allowed to proceed earlier this month.

Hochul referred to Texas’s Senate Bill 8 — which bans abortions after six weeks, deputizes citizens to sue abortion-seekers and anyone who assists them, and incentivizes such suits with up to $10,000 in rewards — as the “Texas Travesty,” and said that the Texas bill along with similar measures in other states intended to undermine Roe v. Wade are putting American women in a dangerous position.

“Women all across this nation have had to confront the prospect that rights that we just took for granted our entire lives, rights that my grandmother had to fight for, rights that were just starting when my mother was a young woman, rights that were always there when I became a young woman, and rights I assumed would be there for my now-30-something-year-old daughter,” Hochul said at a press conference at Central Park’s Women’s Rights Pioneers monument Monday morning, flanked by women leaders like Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins. “But all of a sudden, that sense of security we once had in our nation has been ripped apart, shredded.”

Citing the Statue of Liberty as a symbol of New York’s status as a “safe harbor for people suffering from oppression,” Hochul said that the state would tie up some “loose ends” of the state’s 2019 Reproductive Health Act, which codified Roe v. Wade in state law. That comes primarily as a public information campaign to ensure New York women and those visiting the state for reproductive health care know their rights, she said.

“We want to make sure New York state patients and anyone who comes here knows their rights,” Hochul said. “If you don’t know your rights, you might as well not have these rights.”

Hochul said she is directing all state agencies to launch a public information campaign aimed at ensuring women seeking abortions are aware of their rights, and that the state is creating a “Patient Bill of Rights” which will be distributed in clinics across the state, as well as guidance for abortion care providers on legal rights. Hochul also said that the state would legalize access to medication abortions via telemedicine.

The governor also said that she would be sending a letter to Facebook asking the social media giant to prevent the spread of misinformation on its platform regarding New York’s abortion laws, noting the massive proliferation of bogus information regarding coronavirus vaccines in recent months, and after the state passed the RHA in 2019.

“Help us wage a campaign of truth and not lies with respect to what is going on in Texas and what was going on here in the state of New York,” Hochul said. “Because misinformation spreads like wildfire.”