City-run health clinics will soon be able to provide “medical abortions” with abortion pills – a move critics accuse of turning New York into a tourist abortion mecca.
The city’s Department of Health and Mental Health, in a legal notice, said it plans to enter into a “single source” agreement with Nixon-Shane LLC/ R&S Northeast LLC., to purchase 200-milligram mifepristone tablets, the pill abortive.
Mifepristone is used with another pill, misoprostol, to terminate a pregnancy within the first 11 weeks of gestation.
In the public advisory, the health department said it was buying the abortion pill “to mitigate the public health threat posed by the recent Supreme Court decision overturning Roe vs. Wade, which provided for a constitutional right to abortion.” The nation’s high court ruling said states should determine whether abortion is legalized or restricted.
New York state had some of the strongest abortion rights and access laws in the country even before Roe vs. Wade was shot, with sweeping legislation passed in 2019. State lawmakers are now pushing for a constitutional amendment to protect abortion rights.
Mifepristone is not the same as the “morning after” pill, which is considered emergency contraception and can have side effects.
“These are usually mild and last anywhere from a couple of days to two weeks. They can include cramps, localized bleeding and nausea/vomiting. If you’re experiencing more serious side effects, call your provider right away,” the health department says in the “abortion hub” section on its website.
Opponents say the city is trying to become an abortion tourist destination and pill mill as other states restrict or ban abortions.
“Abortion is the killing of an innocent human life,” said Dennis Poust, executive director of the New York State Catholic Conference, which includes the Archdiocese of New York and the Diocese of Brooklyn-Queens.
“Abortion, sadly, is New York’s answer to all things pregnancy. Abortion is promoted as a social good. Why doesn’t New York help pregnant women who want to support their babies carry them to full term and escape poverty?
The chairman of the state Conservative Party, Gerald Kassar, was enraged: “This is abortion tourism. New York has gone too far on abortion.”
“We respect the sanctity of life. We believe life begins at conception and government funds should not be used for abortion,” she added.
City Hall defended the stockpiling and supply of medical abortion pills to women who wish to terminate a pregnancy.
“Mayor Adams and the Department of Health have made no secret of their commitment to reproductive rights,” the Department of Health said in a statement. “With the codification of New York state’s abortion protections, our city has leapt into action in support of out-of-state residents whose freedom of choice has once again been curtailed following the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s ruling Health Organization and doubled down on support for New Yorkers.”
The health department wouldn’t say how many abortion pills it’s buying to stock in its clinics — or how much the contract costs.
Adams signed a law passed by the city council last year that requires the health department to offer federal drugs for medical abortions, at no cost to patients, at city-run health clinics, with $1 million set aside for increase access to abortion.
“I am definitely supportive. Access to abortion matters,” said Upper West Siide Councilor Gale Brewer, co-sponsor of the bill to provide abortion pills to city clinics.
“Our city health clinics are a good place for patients to provide professional medical advice and counseling. The fact that the pills are offered in clinics is a good thing.
New York state had among the highest abortion rates in the country in 2020 among women ages 15 to 44, with 110,0360 terminated pregnancies — 28.18 per 1,000, or double the national rate, according to one study of the Guttmacher Institute, a professional -choice group.
The city’s health department reported 49,784 abortions in 2019.
The city reported that the number of medical or nonsurgical abortions — via pills — increased 51.7 percent from 2010 to 2019, to 8.8 per 1,000 women of childbearing age as pills became more available.
By comparison, the number of surgical abortions plummeted from 50.9 percent to 18.4 per 1,000 women of childbearing age, the health department report said.
Governor Hochul requires abortion pills to be stored on the SUNY and CUNY campuses.
“SUNY and CUNY students deserve comprehensive access to reproductive health care, including abortion services,” Hochul’s 2023 state bylaws said. “That’s why Governor Hochul will ensure that all public colleges and universities in the SUNY and CUNY systems offer medical abortion in their university health centers or establish a relationship with a local reproductive health care provider to directly refer students to a facility trust for abortion services, an approach that will improve student access to abortion while enabling institutions to address their needs in a way that best fits campus infrastructure.”