In budget, reproductive healthcare protected 1

Attorney General Tish James, left, Assemblymember Jessica González-Rojas, state Sen. Kristen Gonzalez, at mic, Assemblymember Nily Rozic, right, and advocates applauded the state budget’s inclusion of protections for reproductive healthcare.

Standing outside Planned Parenthood’s Long Island City location, New York Attorney General Tish James, state Sen. Kristen Gonzalez (D-Long Island City), Assemblymember Nily Rozic (D-Fresh Meadows), Assemblymember Jessica González-Rojas (D-East Elmhurst) and advocacy groups last Thursday celebrated several legislative victories regarding reproductive rights in the state’s recently passed budget agreement.

The budget provisions come less than a year after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the landmark case that protected the right to choose an abortion for nearly 50 years.

Though New York state enshrined that right in its constitution in 2019, that has not stopped lawmakers from introducing and passing addition legislation to solidify it and make reproductive healthcare more widely accessible.

As part of S4007C/A3007C, the Health and Mental Hygiene portion of the state’s fiscal year 2024 budget, Gonzalez and Rozic worked with reproductive rights organizations to include measures that would safeguard abortion access and healthcare privacy.

Those measures include a prohibition on law enforcement from buying or obtaining electronic health information without a warrant. Rozic spoke to that point last Thursday.

“Like tens of millions of Americans, I’ve used apps to help manage my reproductive health,” she said in a statement. “It’s unconscionable that information could be sold to the highest bidder or weaponized against us.

“Everyone should have the ability to access the abortion care they need without additional fear or concern about the protection of their personal reproductive health data.”

The legislation also bans electronic communications companies from assisting out-of-state law enforcement with warrants related to reproductive healthcare in New York; Gonzalez applauded that.

“Someone coming to New York to receive needed reproductive health care should never have to worry that their information will be used to criminalize them in their home state,” she said in a statement. “This legislation provides critical privacy protections so that everyone can access the abortion care that they need without the fear that their information will be used against them.”

A third measure outlaws geofencing — virtual geographic boundaries used to market to individuals in a specific area — around healthcare facilities for the purpose of advertising, creating a consumer profile or interfering with the medical treatment of a patient at the site.

James praised the legislation.

“With ever increasing efforts to strip away abortion protections and bodily autonomy, it is vital that New York state step up to protect these basic rights,” she said in a statement.

“The actions we take in New York will serve as a shield for millions of Americans, and will hopefully inspire other states to step up and fight back against efforts to ban abortion and violate individuals’ privacy.”