January 22, 2019 / Press Releases

NARAL Applauds New York’s Passage of the Reproductive Health Act

New York once again becomes a leader in reproductive rights, sets the example for other states to follow

For Immediate Release: January 22, 2019

On the 46th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, New York’s state legislature passed the Reproductive Health Act (RHA) today, sending it to Governor Cuomo’s desk for signature. New York is now the first state to pass protections for abortion access in 2019.

“This is a major victory for women and families in New York, and sends a powerful message across the country reaffirming a basic truth: every woman deserves the fundamental right to choose if, when, and how to grow her family,” said NARAL Pro-Choice America Vice President Adrienne Kimmell. “With the passage of the Reproductive Health Act today, which decriminalizes abortion by stripping penalties from the criminal code, New York is finally a leader again on reproductive freedom. This victory is also an affirmation of the legislative progress made possible by electoral gains driven by the pro-choice majority in New York and across the country.”

“We celebrate today’s victory knowing that it would never have been possible without the tireless work of tenacious volunteers and countless activists, as well as the persistence of leaders in the state government,” said NARAL New York Action Council Director Hannah Smolar. “We applaud Governor Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, and Speaker Carl Heastie for making reproductive freedom a legislative priority. Because our volunteers and many others drove electoral wins in the NY State Senate in 2018, we are now seeing the power of coordinated, progressive activism. I am inspired by years of dedication from so many people fighting to protect and expand reproductive freedom, and hope that other states follow the example we’ve put forward.”

Gov. Cuomo and leaders in the legislature reaffirmed their commitment to codify Roe and sign the Reproductive Health Act (RHA) at the start of the 2019 legislative session. State leaders like Sen. Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Speaker Carl Heastie, and other bill sponsors have been tirelessly pushing this effort for a long time. Many New Yorkers, including Erika Christensen and Garin Marschall, also bravely shared their stories to highlight barriers to abortion access in New York.

Pro-choice electoral gains in the 2018 election were pivotal in making the passage of the RHA possible, including the defeat of State Senator Jeff Klein, who led the now-defunct Independent Democratic Conference (0IDC) that caucused with Republicans and prevented Democratic legislation from passing in the State Senate. NARAL proudly endorsed and supported Alessandra Biaggi for NY State Senate in her successful run to defeat Klein and secure a pro-choice majority in the NY Senate.

Today, NARAL launched the “Reality of Roe” campaign to educate Americans in all 50 states about the current threat to the legal right to abortion and reproductive freedom in their communities, and to mobilize its 2 million members to take action in support of protecting and expanding access.


NARAL Pro-Choice America and its network of state affiliates are dedicated to protecting and expanding reproductive freedom for all Americans. NARAL works to guarantee that every woman has the right to make personal decisions regarding the full range of reproductive choices, including preventing unintended pregnancy, bearing healthy children, and choosing legal abortion. In recognition of its work defending our constitutional right to choose, Fortune Magazine described NARAL as “one of the top 10 advocacy groups in America.”

Everyone should be able to decide if, when, how, and with whom they start or grow a family.

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