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Gov. Kathy Hochul establishes $35M fund to help people seeking abortions in New York

Kathy Hochul, wearing navy, standing behind a podium with the state seal, between the U.S. and state flags
New York NOW

One day after state Attorney General Tish James called for a law to provide $50 million to New York abortion clinics to serve out-of-state patients, Gov. Kathy Hochul said she can immediately free up $35 million dollars 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 dollars 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,” Hochul 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 the attorney general that would provide $50 million in funding.

Krueger predicts more money will be needed.

“I’m sorry governor. It’s probably a down payment on other monies that we are going to need,” Kruger said.

She predicts 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 issued statement calling Hochul’s 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.

Sen. Chuck Schumer said senators will vote on the Women's Health Protection Act Wednesday, after a leaked draft opinion from Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito revealed last week the court is likely to overturn the 50-year-old protections of abortion rights granted under Roe. But it likely will fail because there isn't enough support to reach the 60 votes necessary.

NPR's Deepa Shivaram contributed to this story.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. WBFO listeners are accustomed to hearing DeWitt’s insightful coverage throughout the day, including expanded reports on Morning Edition.
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