New York officials are discussing ways of ensuring access to abortion pills in the wake of a ruling that overturned federal regulatory approval of the first drug used in medication abortions.
Gov. Kathy Hochul, speaking with abortion rights advocates on Tuesday, pledged to stockpile a five-year supply of the drug in New York. Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, meanwhile, indicated lawmakers were discussing ways of preserving access to the medication.
Opponents of abortion, meanwhile, have urged lawmakers to reject proposals in the state budget meant to expand abortion services access.
The efforts were announced in separate forums days after a federal judge in Texas suspended the Food and Drug Administration's approval of mifepristone, the first of two drugs used for medication abortions in the U.S. The judge included a week-long stay on the ruling as appeals are being heard.
A separate ruling by a judge in Washington state found the government cannot block access to the drug. It's expected the case challenging the drug will be put before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Hochul told abortion-rights organizations on Tuesday in a virtual gathering the state Department of Health will begin stockpiling 150,000 doses of misoprostol, a drug that can also be used for medication abortions.
"As long as I'm governor, New Yorkers will have access to the care they need," Hochul said.
Hochul also pointed to budget proposals meant to expand access to abortion coverage, including an increase in the Medicaid reimbursement rate, $25 million for providers, allowing pharmacists to prescribe birth control, creating new protections for data privacy and expand access to abortion services on public college and university campuses.
Lawmakers, meanwhile, are in discussion with the Hochul administration for a measure that would require private insurance companies to cover misoprostol when it is prescribe off-label for aobrtions.
"We are talking about what we can as a state do. I know there are certainly - we want to make sure we have access to mifepristone just like so many other states are trying to figure out - how the needs of our constituents will be met," Stewart-Cousins told reporters on Tuesday.
New York already has some of the strongest abortion rights measures on the books. Last year in the wake of a ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade at the federal level, Hochul and state lawmakers moved to make it easier for women from states were abortion restrictions are in place to travel to New York for the procedure.
New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, a socially conservative organization, has criticized the inclusion of the abortion-related measures in the budget negotiations.
"New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms strongly urges the Legislature to strip each of these extreme, dangerous, and unnecessary measures from the final 2023-2024 New York State Budget and to reject them as stand-alone legislation," the group wrote.