The New York state legislature approved a bill Tuesday that will protect medical providers for serving those who live in states with bans on abortion.
This law could expand the use of telehealth for those seeking abortions, especially those who are from states who have restricted access to abortion care. The bill will shield providers from out-of-state litigation by saying that New York officials will not help a state with an abortion ban that attempts to pursue legal action against a New York telemedicine provider that offers abortion to a patient living in a state with a ban.
Those providers will be protected as long as they are in compliance with New York law, according to the bill. The bill states that no state or local government employee in New York “shall cooperate” with an individual or out-of-state agency “regarding any legally protected health activity in this state.”
“As anti-choice extremists continue to roll back reproductive care across the country, New York remains a sanctuary state for access,” New York House Speaker Carl Heastie (D) said in a statement.
“It is our moral obligation to help women across the country with their bodily autonomy by protecting New York doctors from litigation efforts from anti-choice extremists. Telehealth is the future of healthcare, and this bill is simply the next step in making sure our doctors are protected,” he added.
This could expand access to the abortion pill across states who have restricted access to abortions. According to a New York Times analysis, 14 states have fully banned abortions while others have enacted gestational limits on when someone can receive an abortion.
A medication abortion via the pill typically includes two different medicines — mifepristone and misoprostol — that a patient could take at home for the procedure. A report from the Guttmacher Institute issued last year said that medication abortion account for more than half of all abortions in the United States.
“As a medical professional myself, I am proud to sponsor this critical piece of legislation to fully protect abortion providers using telemedicine,” Assemblymember Karines Reyes (D) said in a statement. “I continue to be deeply concerned with anti-choice activists’ efforts to undermine doctors in their ability to adequately provide for their patients and to undermine the patient’s control of their own body. These anti-choice bills have a tangibly negative impact on patients’ health and well-being and New York refuses to stand for it.”
The bill will now head to the desk of Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul.