Elected officials and advocates gathered virtually this week to discuss women’s reproductive rights.
On April 23, members of the New York City Women’s Caucus, the National Institute for Reproductive Health, Peer Health Exchange, Planned Parenthood of Greater New York, the New York Civil Liberties Union, National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum and Ancient Song Doula Services held a virtual Zoom rally in support of a comprehensive legislative reproductive health package.
An in-person rally was scheduled for April 2 before a hearing from the Committee on Women and Gender Equity but was postponed due to COVID-19. In response to the need for discussions on women’s issues and reproductive health, the Women’s Caucus and advocates proceeded with a virtual event and tweetstorm throughout the day with the hashtag #ReproHealthCantWait.
“Even in moments of crisis, New Yorkers still need access to reproductive health care and throughout COVID-19, New York has worked hard to make sure that this care does not become even more difficult to access,” said Councilwoman Vanessa Gibson, co-chair of the Women’s Caucus. “There is great power and potential of state and local leadership. As we watch in horror at the federal government’s cavalier response to this virus, New York must move quickly and efficiently to keep us all safe and healthy — including supporting comprehensive reproductive health policies.”
Gibson is sponsoring a bill requesting New York provide medically-accurate, non-stigmatizing education about health care and relationships to students and to stand with the advocates and colleagues in the Women’s Caucus in support of this entire legislative package.
Cristen Van Vleet, NYC executive director for Peer Health Exchange, praised Gibson for the bill.
“It is vitally important that New York State pass the K-12 sex education bill,” she said. “All students deserve the opportunity to learn vital health information and skills to allow them to lead the lives they want, and this bill will give them that.”
Councilwoman Carlina Rivera, who is chair of the hospitals committee, discussed legislation that would require the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to make long-acting reversible contraception available at its health centers, health stations, health clinics and other health facilities.
“Reproductive health care is absolutely essential, and I am proud to join advocates and my colleagues in the Women’s Caucus in continuing the fight for reproductive justice during this crisis,” Rivera said. “As, I have spoken with countless OB-GYNs, doulas, midwives, and providers citywide about the new obstacles they are facing every day as reproductive health care is written off in the face of COVID-19. States are politicizing this pandemic to further their anti-reproductive rights agenda. Now is the time for New York to lead with this landmark reproductive health package.”