As the Legislative Session Ends in NY, NIRH Action Fund Touts Landmark Abortion Rights Victories

June 21, 2019
Noah Gardy, (201) 218-6310, [email protected]

Session saw historic victories for reproductive freedom, including the Reproductive Health Act, Comprehensive Contraception Coverage Act and NYC funding for abortion services

NEW YORK – As the clock ticks down on New York’s legislative session, the National Institute for Reproductive Health (NIRH) Action Fund hailed the state’s unprecedented record of success in passing a suite of legislation intended to protect and expand reproductive freedom. Spurred on by NIRH Action Fund’s advocacy campaign, the landmark session saw the passage of historic legislation, including the Reproductive Health Act (RHA) and Comprehensive Contraception Coverage Act (CCCA), which inspired a wave of action nationwide including the passage of similar legislation in states including Illinois, Maine, Vermont, New Jersey, Nevada, and Rhode Island.

“2019 was the year that New York sparked a nationwide movement to secure and advance reproductive freedom,” said Andrea Miller, President of the NIRH Action Fund. “From the RHA to a prohibition on nonconsensual pelvic exams, New York’s newly cemented pro-choice majority made it clear that abortion access and bodily autonomy are not privileges but essential rights that state governments have an obligation to defend and enforce. As the federal government, Supreme Court, and many other states restrict reproductive rights, what started as a New York movement has spread across the country as a growing coalition of states awaken to these new responsibilities. The bills are a strong reminder that elections matter, and we look forward to building off the success into the next session and election.”

The full list of legislative victories include:

  • The RHA, which eliminated pre-Roe criminal abortion law, moved the regulation of abortion from the state’s penal code to the health code, codified abortion access into state law, and ensured that qualified, trained advanced practice clinicians – such as nurse practitioners and physicians assistants – can provide abortion care within their scope of practice.
  • The CCCA, which expanded access to contraception, including emergency contraception, and required insurers to cover contraception without a co-payment.
  • Legislation prohibiting the performance of a pelvic examination without consent on an anesthetized or unconscious person, making New York the sixth state in the nation to ban non-consensual pelvic exams.
  • The creation of the Mortality Review Boards and a Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Advisory Council, comprised of clinical experts, to undertake a comprehensive review of maternal deaths and develop recommendations and best practices to bring the rate down.

Outside of Albany, NIRH Action Fund was instrumental in securing $250,000 in New York City’s FY2020 Budget for the New York Abortion Access Fund (NYAAF), making it the first city in the nation to directly fund abortion care. With the passage of these bills, NIRH Action Fund is turning its attention to its priorities for next session, including:

  • The creation of statewide, comprehensive sexuality education that covers lessons on preventing unintended pregnancy and STIs, as well as issues like healthy relationships, body image, and self-esteem.
  • Legislation to study and issue a report examining the impact caused by LSPCs, also known as so-called “Crisis Pregnancy Centers” (CPCs), which are anti-abortion facilities meant to trick or deceive women out of seeking abortion care

For more than a decade, NIRH and its Action Fund has been a leader in the fight to advance reproductive freedom across the country. Recently, they were integral to the successful effort to repeal an outdated criminal abortion ban in Massachusetts, and they led the fight to pass New York’s landmark Reproductive Health Act. Earlier this year, NIRH published a report tracking the passage of more than 100 bills to advance reproductive health, rights, and justice in 27 states and the District of Columbia (D.C.).


The NIRH Action Fund conducts nonpartisan advocacy and electoral engagement to advance reproductive freedom in states and cities across the country.