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Republicans tighten grip on New York spending funds on abortions for women from other states

Mike Groll

State Senator Phil Boyle of Long Island plans to introduce legislation to prevent New York from spending state taxpayer dollars on abortion services for women from Texas, Oklahoma and dozens of other states where the procedure will be restricted, banned and criminalized.

New York officials comment on Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization:

  • Governor Kathy Hochul: "Let me be clear: Abortion remains safe, legal, and accessible in New York for anyone seeking care. And it’s going to stay that way."
  • U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R, NY-1): "Today is a victory for life, for family, for the constitution, and for federalism. ... Today is yet another reminder that New York clearly needs to do a much better job to promote, respect and defend life.”
  • New York Attorney General Letitia James: “Today’s ruling is a vicious, dangerous and deliberate attack on our most basic freedom as humans. Every single person in this country should have the right to make their own decisions about their own bodies.”
  • Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer: "Today is one of the darkest days our country has ever seen. ... These justices — appointed by Republicans and presiding without accountability — have stolen the fundamental right to abortion."
  • U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY): “Today, more than half of the American population became second-class citizens, stripped of their constitutional right to privacy and bodily autonomy, regardless of where they live. ... We cannot allow nearly 50 years of progress for women’s rights to be erased in one fell swoop. We have simply come too far to turn back now.”
  • U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi (D, NY-3): “American women today will have less freedom than their mothers. Sadly, there are those who seek arrest doctors for offering reproductive care. They are wrong. ... I will continue to work to ensure that New York remains a model for safe, legal, and accessible abortions."
  • U.S. Rep. Kathleen Rice (D, NY-4): “Spare me about the sanctity of life. Between yesterday's decision on guns and today's on choice, this Supreme Court clearly doesn't care.”

Over a dozen states have trigger laws in place to ban abortion after the Supreme Court overturned the right to an abortion nationwide in its decision in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization case released on Friday.

The decision will likely lead to an influx of women traveling to states such as New York, where reproductive rights remain legal, to obtain abortions.
Earlier this month, Governor Kathy Hochul created a $35-million public fund to expand access to abortions across the state. The state rallied to protect reproductive rights after a draft opinion of the ruling was leaked from the nation’s highest court. Hochul called the decision “a grave injustice.”

“History shows us that when abortion is banned, abortion becomes unsafe for women,” she said. “Low-income individuals and people of color will be harmed the most.”

New York will also refuse subpoena requests from other states if they relate to abortion-related charges against patients or health care professionals.

“I think the rules are kind of nebulous, but certainly do not want any of it coming to pay for individuals coming from other states to New York for abortions," Boyle, who introduced the legislation against out-of-state abortion funds, said. "That's where New York taxpayers will draw the line.”

His announcement — backed by GOP state senators from Long Island — came minutes after the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe.

“If a woman wants to come to New York or some other state that has reproductive choice to exercise her right, she can do that," Boyle said. "But that does not mean taxpayers have to pay for it."

He emphasized that he supports the right to abortion with restrictions, including regulating who can perform the procedure and whether it is state funded.

“Overnight hotel stays or accommodations, and then the abortion procedure otherwise — God knows how much that could cost — in the millions of millions of dollars," he said. "It's unfair to New York state taxpayers. But given the liberal agenda that has ruled Albany for the last couple of years, I would not be surprised if that's what they try soon."

Abortions are legal in New York, and lawmakers codified the abortion rights in Roe v. Wade into state law three years ago. An amendment enshrining abortion rights into the state’s constitution has not yet been approved by the governor and the state legislature.

In a statement, State Attorney General Letitia James said New York will always be a “safe haven” for anyone seeking an abortion.

On Long Island, in Boyle’s district, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, a Democrat, said the Supreme Court has swept away women's fundamental rights over their bodies.

"I can tell you, as the father of two daughters, I'll be thinking all day today about what I'm going to be saying to them tonight," Bellone said.

A native Long Islander, J.D. is WSHU's managing editor. He also hosts the climate podcast Higher Ground. J.D. reports for public radio stations across the Northeast, is a journalism educator and proud SPJ member.