In a letter sent Friday, Gov. Kathy Hochul urged Congress to protect abortion access, repeal the Hyde Amendment to allow federal dollars be used for abortion services and codify Roe v. Wade into federal law after railing against the draft Supreme Court decision to overturn the historic 1973 ruling that decriminalized abortion.
U.S. senators are poised to vote on legislation next week to codify abortion rights decided under Roe into federal law. Portions of the decision were codified into New York state law in 2019 under the Reproductive Health Act.
"If Roe is overturned, we could expect at least an 11 to 13-percent increase in out-of-state patients traveling to New York for abortion care," Hochul wrote to leaders House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.; U.S. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-NY; Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.; and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.
"History will repeat itself," the governor continued in her letter.
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Hochul urged Congress to take the federal abortion protections a step further and repeal the Hyde Amendment, which prevents federal funds from being used for abortion services or health insurance funds.
"New York is proud to be one of only 15 states to cover abortion via state Medicaid dollars," according to Hochul's letter. "Congress must eliminate the Hyde Amendment to ensure that no individual is denied access to abortion due to income or health insurance plan."
The governor copied U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and the state's 25 members of the House of Representatives on the letter.
The governor also strongly pressed Congress to increase federal funding to Safe Harbor states, or those that accept out-of-staters seeking abortion services; to require states receiving Medicaid funds to follow U.S. Federal Drug Administration guidelines on abortion pills and medications and to expand telehealth services for reproductive care.
Hochul also advocated for abortion pills to be available through telehealth prescriptions and to ensure the U.S. Postal Service has the resources to keep up with demands to ship abortion medication to all U.S. states and territories.
"New York state is a blueprint for how reproductive health services, including abortion, canbe structured with a focus on real peple's experiences and needs, not political rhetoric," Hochul said at the end of her letter. "Now is the time for decisive, bold action to ensure that abortion remains safe, legal and accessible for all who need it."
Hochul's letter comes on the heels of state Democrats promising this week to strengthen New York's abortion laws and protections, including a potential congressional amendment. New York has an Abortion Access Working Group to guide state policy about abortion and reproductive health care access, and health providers across the state are permitted to offer abortion telehealth services.
New York legalized abortion in 1970, or three years before the Supreme Court ruling, with a Republican-led Senate. More than 400,000 abortions were performed int he state in the first two years after legalization — two-thirds of which for women from out-of-state.