It is the first time a city has used its budget to step into the national abortion battle.
On Friday (June 14), New York City added money to its 2020 budget to help people who are not city residents. In what’s billed as the first move of its kind by a municipality, New York City earmarked $250,000 to assist pregnant people who live in states with restrictive abortion laws who want to get the medical procedure performed in the city.
The abortion access fund provides payment to clinics on behalf of women who might not be able to pay for abortions, but are not covered by insurance or Medicaid. Roughly a third of the fund goes to women who come to New York for abortions.
The newspaper called the move “symbolic if provocative” in the ongoing national battle on abortion rights. This year, nine states have passed restrictive laws. These include Kentucky, Ohio and Georgia, which have six-week bans. Missouri’s ban is at eight weeks of pregnancy, while Alabama recently criminalized abortion at the moment of conception, with no exceptions for rape or incest.
These laws were passed by Republican-controlled state legislatures in the hopes that they will lead to legal fights that will prompt the conservative-majority Supreme Court of the United States to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 court case that legalized abortion nationwide.
In response to this threat to Roe, a number of states—including Illinois and Maine—have demonstrated their commitment to keeping abortions legal. On the 46th anniversary (January 22) of Roe v. Wade, New York state passed the Reproductive Health Act, which removes the procedure from the state’s criminal code and makes Roe’s protections part of state law.
“We heard the news on the abortion bans across the country,” she said. “Many of us in New York felt helpless. We wanted to do more.”