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Hochul directs $35M to aid New York abortion providers

New York Governor Kathy Hochul speaks during the New York State Democratic Convention in New York, Thursday, Feb. 17, 2022. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Seth Wenig/AP
New York Governor Kathy Hochul speaks during the New York State Democratic Convention in New York, Thursday, Feb. 17, 2022. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

One day after state Attorney General Letitia James called for a law to provide $50 million to New York abortion clinics to serve out- of -state patients, Governor Kathy Hochul said she can immediately free up $35 million for the clinics.

Hochul announced the new funding in reaction to the leaked U.S. Supreme Court opinion that seeks to overturn the 1973 landmark abortion rights decision Roe v. Wade.

The governor said the funds will subsidize travel, lodging and other expenses associated with the procedure, to be used for people who live in states where abortion would be banned, if the Supreme Court strikes down Roe.

“I’m directing the Department of Health to create New York’s first fund ever to support abortion providers,” Hochul said. “$25 million will expand capacity and access for patients seeking abortion care, (the) largest fund of its kind in our nation.”

Hochul spoke via Zoom after testing positive for COVID-19 earlier this week, although she is asymptomatic.

The governor said $10 million will also be available to increase security protections for clinics.

The funding comes from the health department’s emergency fund, controlled by the state’s health commissioner, Dr. Mary Bassett.

The money would be ready for distribution as soon as the court acts.

“We’re being proactive, I’ve said I’m better at playing offense than defense in anything I do,” said Hochul, who said it might take a few weeks to finalize the criteria and get the applications out to providers.

“We’re anticipating to have this go live as soon as that Supreme Court decision comes down,” the governor said.

Hochul was joined, virtually, by leaders of Planned Parenthoods across the state and lawmakers, including Senate Finance Committee Chair Liz Krueger. Krueger also supports the law introduced Monday by Attorney General James that would provide $50 million in funding.

Krueger predicted that more money will be needed.

“I’m sorry governor, it’s probably a down payment on other monies that we are going to need,” said Kruger, who predicted that women who come from other states will be disproportionately young, low income and people of color.

While the state Democratic leaders support the funding, some Republicans do not.

GOP Chair Nick Langworthy in a statement called Hochul’s and the other Democrats’ announcement “manufactured hysteria designed to distract from the absolute dumpster fire they’ve created in New York.”

Langworthy said the governor and other New York Democrats should be focusing on the rising crime rate and high cost of living instead.

Karen has covered state government and politics for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 New York and Connecticut stations, since 1990. She is also a regular contributor to the statewide public television program about New York State government, New York Now. She appears on the reporter’s roundtable segment, and interviews newsmakers.