Governor Kathy Hochul of New York has signed legislation into law to enhance access to reproductive healthcare and safeguard patients and doctors seeking abortion care through telehealth services. The new law expands existing provisions, allowing doctors, medical providers, and facilitators in New York to offer telehealth services to patients outside the state without facing legal repercussions in states where abortion services are restricted or prohibited. This move aims to counter the regression of women’s rights observed across the country and ensure safe and accessible abortion care in New York.
Protecting Access to Reproductive Healthcare:
The legislation (S.1066B/A.1709B) prohibits state law enforcement from collaborating in cases targeting doctors in New York who use telehealth services to prescribe medication abortion or provide other reproductive health care to individuals residing in states with restrictive abortion laws. Furthermore, it shields providers who comply with these practices from the professional discipline imposed by medical malpractice insurance companies. This legislation builds upon the protections established in a law signed by Governor Hochul in June 2022, which safeguarded New York healthcare providers when providing abortions to out-of-state patients physically present in New York.
Governor Hochul’s Commitment to Women’s Rights:
Governor Kathy Hochul expressed her commitment to preserving safe, accessible, and legal abortion care in New York. She acknowledged the nationwide erosion of abortion access and emphasized that this legislation would enable more women to access reproductive health care, including medication abortion, by ensuring that healthcare providers can deliver telehealth services to patients residing outside of New York without facing legal or professional consequences. The Governor’s actions reflect New York’s determination to counter restrictive abortion laws and facilitate the availability of necessary care.
Dr. James McDonald, the Commissioner of the New York State Department of Health, praised the legislation for protecting healthcare providers as they fulfill their medical responsibilities and attend to patients’ health needs. He commended Governor Hochul for her leadership in upholding safe, accessible, and legal abortion care in New York.
Various lawmakers and organizations also applauded the signing of the bill. Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins emphasized New York’s commitment to protecting women’s rights and thanked Governor Hochul for promptly signing the legislation into law. State Senator Shelley Mayer acknowledged the historic moment, highlighting New York’s leading role in protecting reproductive health services and commending the collaborative efforts of providers, advocates, legal experts, and legislative colleagues.
Access to Reproductive Healthcare: Looking Ahead
Governor Hochul’s actions to strengthen access to reproductive health care align with her ongoing efforts to protect and expand abortion access in New York. Recent initiatives have included allowing pharmacists to dispense contraception over the counter and ensuring access to medication abortion at public colleges and universities in the SUNY and CUNY systems. As part of the FY 2024 Budget, Governor Hochul announced additional measures, such as increasing Medicaid reimbursement rates for abortion services, data protections for patients seeking reproductive health care, and funding allocations to support abortion providers and reproductive health care.
With the signing of this legislation, Governor Kathy Hochul reaffirms New York’s commitment to safeguarding access to reproductive healthcare and upholding women’s rights.
The law protects healthcare providers in New York who offer telehealth services, including medication abortion, to patients in states where abortion services are restricted or outlawed. By expanding the existing law and preventing legal and professional repercussions, New York ensures that more women can access the care they need. As other states face significant challenges to abortion access, New York remains steadfast in its dedication to maintaining safe, accessible, and legal reproductive health care.