Donald Trump has begun his presidency like a five-year-old boy on a beach full of sandcastles, knocking, often clumsily, everything in his path. The first castles to be destroyed have been those giving Americans hard-won rights. There was the “not a Muslim ban” on Friday (Holocaust remembrance day) and then threat posed by the nomination of conservative Supreme Court justice, Neil Gorsuch, this week. If Gorsuch’s record is any indication, he is a big threat to workers’ rights and women’s reproductive rights.
New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has emerged as one of Trump’s greatest detractors — most recently, subverting the president’s policies and statements that affect women. On Monday, he gave a speech at Planned Parenthood’s Rally and Family Planning Advocates’ Day of Action in which he offered some solace to fearful women in New York State. Cuomo said he is proposing to guarantee a woman’s right to choose in New York by “codifying the protections established by the 1973 Roe v. Wade into the state constitution.” In other words, the move would ensure the current protections women are given remain in place in New York if Roe v. Wade is struck down.
“As Washington seeks to limit women’s rights, we seek to protect them, and as they threaten reproductive rights, I propose a constitutional amendment to write Roe v. Wade into the New York State Constitution to prevent any attack on the right to choose,” Governor Cuomo said. “We will not allow the progress of the women’s movement to be stopped, and we must seize this opportunity to bring the state and the nation forward and stand up for women’s health. Make no mistake, we will always protect the right to choose in New York.”
For the unfamiliar, Roe v. Wade is a 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision, which held that the United States Constitution protects the right of a woman to choose to terminate her pregnancy prior to fetal viability or throughout pregnancy when it is necessary to preserve her life or health.
The move is the latest in a series from Governor Cuomo aiming to secure reproductive health services in New York. The state has taken regulatory action to ensure that insurers:
- Provide coverage for all contraceptive drugs and devices and coverage for at least one form of contraception in each of the FDA-approved contraceptive delivery methods without co-pays, coinsurance, or deductibles, regardless of the future of the Affordable Care Act.
- Provide coverage for the dispensing of an initial three-month supply of a contraceptive to an insured person. For subsequent dispensing of the same contraceptive prescribed by the same health care provider and covered under the same policy or renewal, an insurer must allow coverage for the dispensing of the entire prescribed contraceptive supply, up to 12 months, at the same time.
- Provide coverage for abortion services that are medically necessary without co-pays, coinsurance, or deductibles (unless the plan is a high deductible plan).
“I’m not saying everting is done, there’s certainly still more to do,” Cuomo said, referring to the advances the state has made in women’s issues. “There is an inherent sexism in society that exists and we will not stop fighting until we have total equality and parity.”
After the rally, Planned Parenthood’s president, Cecil Richards, sounded inspired. She told Vogue, “We’re not on the defense. We’re on the offense—and we will put anybody on defense who goes to take away women’s rights.”