Williams Advances Abortion Rights Legislation In City Council As State Takes Up Equality Amendment

July 1st, 2022

Press Release

Today, as the state legislature votes on the Equality Amendment to advance reproductive rights in the state constitution, and in the wake of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams testified in a City Council hearing of the Committee on Women and Gender Equity. He called for immediate passage of several pieces of legislation aimed at protecting abortion rights on all levels of government.

“Institutions in our country are failing people everywhere, especially those who will be directly affected by this assault on reproductive rights with the overturning of Roe v. Wade by the Supreme Court,” said Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams. “As elected officials, we owe it to New Yorkers to turn our words into action, ensuring that our city will safeguard reproductive rights for all, and keep our state and federal governments accountable to this as well.”

The Public Advocate asked the City Council to quickly pass two pieces of legislation essential to protecting practitioners and patients of reproductive healthcare in New York City. The first bill, Int. 0466, which he co-prime sponsors alongside Council Member Tiffany Cabán, would "prohibit city agencies from using city resources to detain individuals who performed or aided with abortions as well as prohibit city agencies from cooperating with out-of-state entities related to abortions performed in New York state.” Next, Int. 0475 would “allow a person to bring a claim of interference with medical care when a lawsuit is commenced against them,” for accessing healthcare that is legal in New York City – so anyone who is sued for terminating a pregnancy is able to bring a claim of interference.

New York City must always remain a safe place for anyone seeking access to abortion, so the Public Advocate also pushed for two resolutions. The first, Res. 0197, “declares New York City a safe city for all those in need of abortion-related care,” sending a strong and resounding message that the city will remain a safe haven for anyone seeking reproductive healthcare. Additionally, Res. 0245 calls on the U.S. Senate to pass, and President Biden to sign, the Women’s Health Protection Act; this bill federally protects the right to abortion care.

This advocacy is part of a larger legislative push by the Public Advocate to enshrine and defend reproductive rights. Yesterday, at a hearing of the Committee on Civil and Human Rights, the Public Advocate emphasized the need to pass legislation from Council Member Shahana Hanif, of which he is the co-prime sponsor, that would ensure that all New Yorkers seeking reproductive healthcare or employed at a reproductive health care facility are aware of their rights and remedies under New York law.

“We have an obligation to secure rights for our communities, an obligation I know we all are committed to uphold,” said Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams. “At the same time, we have an obligation to inform our communities of their rights. Even before the Supreme Court’s decision, access to reproductive health information has proved a barrier to proper care for New Yorkers. Without proper access to information, our communities cannot exercise the rights they have fought for.”

Read the Public Advocate’s testimony from today’s hearing of the Committee on Women and Gender Equity, and yesterday’s hearing of the Committee on Civil and Human Rights.

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