New York City is now offering free abortion pills in public clinics, becoming the first city in the country to do so.
The free pills will be available at four public clinics across the city, Mayor Eric Adams announced Tuesday, just days before the 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the historic Supreme Court decision that granted a constitutional right to abortion. On Wednesday, a Bronx clinic became the first to offer the pills, which will be available in clinics in Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens later this year.
The city already offers medical abortions in its 11 public hospitals. The new program expands access to the four clinics and provides a way for people to access the procedure for free.
“No other city in the nation or in the world has a public health department that supplies abortion drugs,” Adams said. “We are the first.”
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What are the details about NYC’s free abortion pill program?
The program is funded by a $1.2 million sexual health services package, the city’s health department said.
Once the medical abortion programs are up and running, the four clinics will be able to provide up to 10,000 medical abortions a year, Ashwin Vasan, commissioner of the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, said in a statement. press conference on Tuesday.
Vasan said the clinics allow for scheduled appointments and walk-ins, and abortion medical care will be “open to anyone,” whether they’re from New York City or not. The city also provides abortion care to anyone, regardless of immigration status, Vasan said.
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Mayor Eric Adams Announces Vision for Women’s Health
The free medical abortions are part of Adams’ vision for an “agenda for New York City’s women’s health,” she said at a press conference Tuesday. The initiative is “aimed at dismantling decades of systemic inequality that have negatively impacted women’s health across the five boroughs,” according to a statement from her office.
Adams cited several examples of inequalities in women’s health and said that the average maternal mortality rate among pregnant black women is more than nine times the rate among pregnant white women.
“For too long, health and healthcare has been centered around men, but that’s changing today,” Adams said. “We have been on the sidelines of women’s health for too long and I have personally seen how the health care system is failing our women. We have long been breaking taboos and making New York City a model for the future of women’s health care. We will build a city that is here for all women and girls.”
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Wendy Stark, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Greater New York, called the program “critical … to our bodily autonomy and basic human rights.”
“A healthier New York City requires intentional investments to reduce health care disparities that systematically disadvantage Black, Latino and marginalized communities,” Stark said in a statement. “This includes ensuring equal access to sexual and reproductive health services and compassionate abortion care.”
In a statement, Dr. Herminia Palacio, president and chief executive officer of the Guttmacher Institute, a research and policy organization that supports abortion rights, applauded the program as a step to “prioritize health, well-being and ‘reproductive autonomy of our women and girls.’
“New York City can only be as strong as the health of the millions of women and girls who live and work here and make this place the ever-resilient, thriving urban center that we are,” said Palacio, who is also a former New York City Health Commissioner and city personal services.
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New York programs target abortion access
The medical abortion effort is one of several New York City programs launched after Roe v. Wade was flipped.
In March, Adams announced a citywide expansion of doula services, an obstetrics initiative, and a maternal health services program. In August, she signed into law the NYC Abortion Rights Act package, strengthening protections against abortion and paving the way for free medical abortion. And in November, the city launched the Abortion Access Hub, which confidentially connects women seeking abortion care to providers throughout the city, as well as financial support, transportation and housing services.
What are the other parts of the Adams Women’s Health Initiative?
Other components of Adams’ “Blueprint for the Future of Women’s Health in New York City” include:
- Revitalized a sex education task force targeting young New Yorkers and school staff members in particular
- Track rates of cancer, mental health, heart disease and other conditions, as well as life expectancy and key indicators differentiated by age and race
- Convening women’s health leaders for a Women’s History Month summit in March
- Launched a campaign focused on supporting New Yorkers living with high blood pressure and diabetes, particularly in the Bronx, Brooklyn and Manhattan neighborhoods with health and socioeconomic disparities.
- Launch of a family-based substance use disorder program
- Expanding access to pelvic floor physical therapy
Contact Christine Fernando at [email protected] or follow her on Twitter at @christinetfern.