In the face of increasing attacks on abortion access throughout the country, New York City’s commitment to funding abortion sends a powerful message.

We are especially grateful to City Comptroller Scott Stringer and Council Members Helen Rosenthal, Carlina Rivera and Margaret Chin, who made abortion funding one of their top priorities in the city budget.
Steven A Henry/WireImage, Taylor Hill/Getty Images, Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images

Last week, abortion access advocates in New York made history. When the ink dries on next year’s budget, New York will become the first city in the country to directly fund abortion by allocating $250,000 to the New York Abortion Access Fund (NYAAF), which supports anyone who is unable to pay fully for an abortion and is living in or traveling to New York state by providing financial assistance and connections to other resources. This funding will help ensure that every person is able to decide when and whether to become a parent regardless of their income, type of insurance, or citizenship status.

In the face of increasing attacks on abortion access throughout the country, New York City’s commitment to funding abortion sends a powerful message—one that activists in other cities and states can push for.

This is an essential step as we work toward ending the Hyde Amendment, which bans federal funding for most abortions. And we know it won’t be the last: Advocates in progressive cities like ours can seize the opportunity to turn supporters into champions, to advocate for policymakers who talk the talk about abortion access to also walk the walk. Even in progressive states, people face barriers to abortion access. Some people have federal insurance coverage that does not cover abortion care (including members of the military, veterans, and other federal employees), cannot use their insurance for privacy or safety reasons, or cannot afford an abortion despite insurance coverage (such as due to a high deductible). For individuals with low incomes, additional expenses such as travel, unpaid time off work, and child care can push abortion care entirely out of reach, and/or force them to choose between basic necessities (like rent and food) and paying for an abortion. Due to systemic barriers in health care, this especially impacts individuals who are Black, Latinx, immigrants, refugees, or transgender/gender nonconforming.

Directly funding abortion care is a concrete action to support people who need abortions and an important statement that the cruel and unjust Hyde Amendment can no longer stand. As New York City Council Member Carlina Rivera tweeted after the funding was announced, “Before Roe v. Wade, NYC was a haven for women who wanted the freedom to choose. It’s time for our City to be that beacon for the country once again.”

We are celebrating this week thanks to a strong coalition of advocates working together to develop a grassroots and political strategy. NYAAF could not have accomplished this victory without the leadership of the National Institute for Reproductive Health (NIRH), the consistent vision and bold messaging of All* Above All, the grassroots mobilization of WHARR: Women’s Health and Reproductive Rights, and the contributions of many others committed to lifting barriers to abortion care.

The Fund Abortion NYC coalition first came together in fall 2018, led by NYAAF and NIRH, to develop a strategy to pursue City Council funding for abortion care. This campaign grew out of informal conversations with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene about the possibility of funding, which led to the decision to launch an official campaign. With our combined political savvy, grassroots power, communications strategy, and understanding of the abortion funding landscape, we created a powerful force that offered a concrete policy action for policymakers who had long supported abortion access with their words. We found a champion in Council Member Helen Rosenthal, who helped us navigate the City Council budget process. Through lobbying and grassroots mobilization, we laid the groundwork and got our message in front of as many City Council members and citywide elected officials as we could.

The Fund Abortion NYC coalition built a powerful infrastructure. So when six-week abortion bans in Ohio, Mississippi, and Georgia and a near-total ban on abortion in Alabama galvanized New York policymakers to protect access to local care, we were well poised to connect them to direct action. We are especially grateful to City Comptroller Scott Stringer and Council Members Carlina Rivera and Margaret Chin, the co-chairs of the NYC Council Women’s Caucus, who made abortion funding one of their top priorities in the city budget. NYAAF and the Fund Abortion NYC coalition spoke at rallies, recruited new supporters, circulated a petition with thousands of signers, spoke with the press, and mobilized our base to make calls and send emails to council members.

In the end, the New York City Council was willing to help make abortion a reality for all of us, not just some of us. New York City’s fiscal year 2020 budget will include $250,000 for the New York Abortion Access Fund to support people facing financial and logistical barriers to abortion care.

Politicians and advocates across the country should look to local abortion funds and abortion access advocates to guide the way and identify ways to fund abortion in their own cities and states. We hope New York is just the beginning, and we invite organizers to look to organizations like All* Above All for a justice-oriented vision to repeal Hyde, and the National Institute for Reproductive Health for proactive local policy models.

The momentum to repeal Hyde goes beyond direct abortion funding: In the same week that New York made history by funding abortion, Maine also became the latest state to stand up to the Hyde Amendment by passing a law that requires both public and private insurance that covers prenatal care to also cover abortion care.

Let’s keep up the momentum. Our collective power can shift resources and culture, and create greater access to abortion care.


Gov. J.B. Pritzker displays the newly-signed Reproductive Health Act as supporters look on. From left, Senate sponsor Melinda Bush (D, Grayslake) and House sponsor Rep. Kelly Cassidy (D, Chicago)

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker has signed a controversial bill expanding access to reproductive healthcare, including abortions. The move comes as several other states have all but banned the procedure.

Dozens of advocates surrounded the governor as he signed what they’re calling the “most progressive” abortion law in the nation, cementing it as a “fundamental right” under Illinois law.

Supporters say they were prompted to pass what they called the Reproductive Health Act by a nationwide effort to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade. Neighboring states Indiana and Missouri have joined that effort by restricting the procedure and, in Missouri’s case, refusing to relicense the only clinic where abortions are available.

Governor Pritzker says those who have been cut off elsewhere are welcome in Illinois.

“Let the word go forth today from this place: If you believe in standing up for women’s fundamental rights, Illinois is a beacon of hope in the heart of this nation,” he told a crowd gathered for the signing.

Older Illinois laws that restrict abortion access have been blocked, and have now been repealed altogether as part of the new law. Supporters of the legislation say they could have been brought back if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.

Jennifer Welch, an executive at Planned Parenthood of Illinois, says Pritzker is keeping another of his campaign promises.

“Today, Illinois sends a very clear message: a woman, not politicians, should make decisions when it comes to her own pregnancy,” she told the crowd.

Away from the joy of supporters gathered to watch the bill signing in a Chicago ballroom, protestors like nurse Emily Kelly stood just one floor below, in a very different kind of mood.

“I’ll be damned if you tell me that, before exiting the miraculous home that is her mother’s womb, that she’s not a living, breathing human person,” Kelly told reporters.

The law took effect immediately. Among other things, it redefines a viable pregnancy as one in which a fetus can survive apart from its mother without life support.

Abortion-rights supporters say they’ll next look to repeal Illinois’ parental-notification law, which requires a minor to notify her parents when she seeks an abortion. A bill to do away with that provision stalled during the spring legislative session.

State Sen. Melinda Bush, a Democrat from Grayslake, says state lawmakers may try to bring the measure to the floor as soon as the fall veto session.

“It didn’t get done this year, [but] I’m sure that [they’re] going to want to see those bills called,” she said.

Meanwhile, the Thomas More Society, a Roman Catholic legal group, says it’ll be challenging the new law in court.

“We have now gone way beyond Roe v. Wade in terms of post-viability abortions,” said attorney and former Republican legislator Peter Breen. “It’ll now be A-B-C: abortion, bankruptcy and corruption in the state of Illinois.”


An aerial view of U.S. Naval Base Guam September 20, 2006. U.S.

  • Women living in the US territory of Guam must travel elsewhere if they want to get an abortion due to lack of abortion providers on the island.
  • While the island’s laws do permit abortions in the territory by a licensed doctor within 13 weeks, the island’s last abortion provider, Dr. William Freeman, retired in May 2018. The doctor who took over his practice is against abortion.
  • Since May 2018, when Freeman retired, no abortions have been reported on the island, according to Guam’s Office of Vital Statistics.
  • Lack of abortion access in Guam comes as heated debates about the procedure continue to unfold across the US, with a slew of stringent measures passed by states in recent months.

A 12-year-old girl in the US territory of Guam who was allegedly raped and impregnated will have no choice but to give birth to the child — due to lack of abortion providers on the island.

Bureau of Women’s Affairs Director Jayne Flores shared the girl’s story with The Pacific Daily News. “It breaks my heart that the 12-year-old girl who got raped… has to have a baby,” Flores said, adding that the man was recently charged in court. “It breaks my heart that that girl will have to go through with her pregnancy because there’s no one on island that will help her.”

While the island’s laws do permit abortions in the territory by a licensed doctor within 13 weeks, the island’s only abortion provider, Dr. William Freeman, retired in May 2018. Women who try to terminate their pregnancy without the assistance of a doctor can be charged with third-degree felony.

As a result, women who want an abortion will have to travel elsewhere to seek the procedure — a costly and unfeasible option for many on the island. Anita Arriola, an attorney and longtime abortion advocate in Guam, told The Pacific Daily News in June 2018 that while women who have resources can travel off-island for illegal or legal abortions, many women cannot afford to do so.

She said there are few options for women across the region: abortions are banned in the Philippines and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands; the procedure is only permitted in Japan under limited circumstances when the women’s health is at risk or if she is raped; and in Singapore, abortions are limited to the country’s citizens.

Hawaii, another option, is around 4,000 miles away and a nearly eight hour flight from Guam.

Since May 2018, when Freeman retired, no abortions have been reported on the island, according to Guam’s Office of Vital Statistics. The doctor who took over Freeman’s practice is against abortion and has made clear he won’t offer the procedure.

“I am deeply concerned for the people in Guam left without needed access to safe, legal abortion care, leaving no options for people who need care,” Dr. Leana Wen, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, told INSIDER in a statement. “I’ve seen what happens when people can’t access the care they need — their heath suffers and they go without life-saving care. Health care must be recognized as a human right for all.”

“Our legislators and governor created an environment that has driven legal abortion providers away from Guam, and they’re setting up a system where women will perform their own abortions or travel at great lengths and great risk to get legal or illegal abortions,” Arriola told the Associated Press.

Heated debates about the procedure continue to unfold across the US, with a slew of stringent measures passed by states in recent months.

In April and May alone, the governors of Louisiana, Ohio, Georgia, Mississippi, Missouri, and Alabama signed some of the country’s most restrictive abortion bans. Anti-abortion measures so far this year in Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, and Utahdon’t allow exceptions for rape or incest.

None of these laws have formally gone into effect, and they are being challenged in court.

“This horrifying example is a heartbreaking reminder of the high price women and survivors pay when draconian policies outlaw abortion,” Amanda Thayer, NARAL Pro-Choice America Deputy Communications Director, told INSIDER in a statement. “The wave of abortion bans sweeping states across the US, several of which exclude exceptions for rape or incest, illustrates an ideology that shows absolutely no regard for the actual lives, health, or wellbeing of women.”


Maine Democratic Gov. Janet Mills signed a bill on Monday authorizing two non-doctor categories of medical professionals to perform abortions.

The legislation introduced earlier this year will allow both physician assistants and advanced practice registered nurses to perform abortions, which Mills said in a statement would increase access to abortion services for Maine women “especially those in rural areas.”
“These health care professionals are trained in family planning, counseling and abortion procedures, the overwhelming majority of which are completed without complications,” Mills said.
Maine’s move to expand authorized abortion providers stood in contrast to a wave of anti-abortion measures passed recently around the country. Those measures include laws seeking to ban abortions early into a pregnancy — as soon as a fetal heartbeat is detected — and a particularly controversial law in Alabama that would punish doctors who perform abortions with life in prison.
According to the governor’s statement, seven other states allow some non-doctor medical professionals to perform abortions. California expanded its authorization for abortion providers in 2013, with legislation saying nurse practitioners, certified nurse-midwives and physician assistants with training could perform abortions.
In 2014, “some 81% of Maine counties had no clinics that provided abortions, and 55% of Maine women lived in those counties,” according to the Guttmacher Institute.

In recent months, states across the country have been passing laws designed to make it harder — and in some cases, nearly impossible — to get an abortion.

So Shelley O’Brien, manager of The Yale Hotel in the tiny Michigan town of Yale, made an offer to anyone traveling out of their state for the procedure: Come to Michigan and stay at her hotel for free.
“Dear sisters that live in Alabama, Ohio, Georgia, Arkansas, Missouri, or any of the other states that follow with similar laws restricting access, We cannot do anything about the way you are being treated in your home-state,” the post reads.
“But, if you can make it to Michigan, we will support you with several nights lodging, and transportation to and from your appointment,” the post reads.
It was a bold stance for the mother of three to take in her largely conservative town that’s home to fewer than 2,000 people. But O’Brien said she felt it was important.
“Women should have autonomy over their own bodies,” she said. “If we do not have control over our own bodies, then this is not a free world.”
The Yale Hotel’s Facebook post has since received thousands of shares and hundreds of comments. Responses have been mostly positive, O’Brien said, though she has gotten some pushback from online trolls and others.
So far, O’Brien said no one has taken her up on the offer, though she has a room ready for anyone who needs it. She said she’s calling it “Jane’s Room” — a nod to Jane Roe, the pseudonym for Norma McCorvey, the plaintiff in the landmark Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade.
The offer has, however, been good for business. In the weekend after she made the post on Facebook, she said she made $400 more than the week before.
In the past few months, Alabama passed a near-total ban on abortion, while states including Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Ohio have passed “heartbeat” bills that ban abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected.
Earlier this week, Republicans in the Michigan state Senate introduced bills that would punish doctors for performing abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected. The Republican-led House and Senate also voted in May to ban a common second-trimester abortion procedureand make it a felony for physicians to perform it, except to save a patient’s life.
Michigan’s Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has said she would veto bills that restrict abortion access, and a group called Right to Life of Michigan plans to launch a petition to bypass her promised veto.

New style guidance encourages editors to avoid medically misleading terms like ‘heartbeat bill’ in reference to restrictive abortion laws sweeping the US

Pro-choice activists demonstrate in St Louis, Missouri. Photograph: Jeff Roberson/AP

The Guardian will no longer use the term “heartbeat bill” in reference to the restrictive abortion bans that are moving through state legislatures in the US.

Editors and reporters are encouraged to use the term “six-week abortion ban” over “fetal heartbeat bill”, unless they are quoting someone.

“We want to avoid medically inaccurate, misleading language when covering women’s reproductive rights,” the Guardian’s US editor-in-chief, John Mulholland, said. “These are arbitrary bans that don’t reflect fetal development – and the language around them is often motivated by politics, not science.”

The Guardian style guide already encourages editors to use “anti-abortion” over “pro-life” for clarity, and “pro-choice” over “pro-abortion”, since not everyone who supports a woman’s right to reproductive choice supports abortion at a personal level.

The Guardian’s updated style guide on abortion bans is in line with the view of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the largest professional organization for doctors specializing in women’s health.

ACOG, which represents 58,000 physicians, says the term “heartbeat bill” is not medically accurate.

“Pregnancy and fetal development are a continuum,” said the ACOG president, Dr Ted Anderson. “What’s interpreted as a heartbeat in these bills is actually electrically induced flickering of a portion of fetal tissue that will become the heart as the embryo develops.”

Some doctors who opposed the bans say the term was developed as political tactic to win support for the bills.

“These bills present the idea that there’s something that looks like what you or a person on the street would call a baby – a thing that’s almost ready to go for a walk,” said Dr Jen Gunter, a gynecologist in Canada and the US who runs an influential blog. “In reality, you’re talking about something that’s millimeters in size and doesn’t look anything like that.”

The Guardian’s updated style guide comes as a wave of restrictive abortion bans are sweeping the US: between 1 January and 20 May, 378 abortion restrictions were introduced across the United States. An unprecedented 40% of them have been abortion bans that prohibit terminations after a certain gestational age or for another specific reason, according to the Guttmacher Institute.

Many of those measures ban abortion after about six weeks, before most women know they are pregnant.

Despite the laws, abortion is legal in all 50 US states because the bans contravene Roe v Wade, the landmark decision which legalized abortion in 1973. The laws are all expected to be challenged in court and are unlikely ever to go into effect. Supporters hope the bills will make it to the US supreme court and force a challenge to Roe.


Margaret Atwood has an eerie prediction about the outcome of abortionrestrictions, one that bears an uncanny resemblance to the dystopian future depicted in her hyper-relevant novel, The Handmaid’s Tale.

Speaking at New York City’s Book Con on Saturday, Atwood argued that when states obligate women into childbearing, they institute “a form of slavery,” Insider reported. State-mandated reproduction has two outcomes, she said: That women die, and that orphanages fill up.

Atwood referred specifically to Texas, where Gov. Greg Abbott is poised to sign Senate Bill 8. The legislation not only requires abortion providers to bury or cremate fetal remains, but also bans the most common second trimester abortion procedure — dilation and evacuation — as well as dilation and extraction, the typical procedure for late-term abortions. Dilation and extraction abortions are, generally speaking, only performed when the mother’s life or health is in danger.

“I’m waiting for the first lawsuit,” Atwood said, explaining that she expected families of women who died to sue the state. “I’m also waiting for a lawsuit that says if you force me to have children I cannot afford, you should pay for the process,” she added.

Author Margaret Atwood speaks after being introduced for the Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award at the National Book Critics Circle awards ceremony on Thursday, March 16, 2017.

Source: Julie Jacobson/AP

Texas’ long-fought war on abortion access correlates with two trends that bear out Atwood’s theory: Since the Lone Star State began purposefully funneling federal money away from abortion providers in 2011, both maternal mortality rates and birth rates have spiked, mostly among women who rely on government funds to get medical care.

The reality of Texas’ abortion restrictions, Atwood said, is state-mandated reproduction without a safety net — and that’s a problem:

They [Texas] should pay for my [a woman’s] prenatal care. They should pay for my, otherwise, very expensive delivery, you should pay for my health insurance, you should pay for the upkeep of this child after it is born. That’s where the concern seems to cut off with these people. Once you take your first breath, [it’s] out the window with you. And, it is really a form of slavery to force women to have children that they cannot afford and then to say that they have to raise them.

Her assessment looks a lot like the picture painted in Atwood’s 1985 novel,The Handmaid’s Tale. It’s currently experiencing a surge in popularity thanks to a Hulu show and a political climate in which abortion is demonized. Critics have drawn parallels between real life attacks on reproductive rights and female existence in the book’s fictional society, Gilead, where fertile women are conscripted as sex servants in the houses of powerful men. Their sole purpose is bearing children.

The difference between women in Gilead and women in Texas, though, is that the former are provided for. Atwood thinks Texas should, at the very least, do that.

“If you’re drafted into the army, the other situation in which the state seizes control of your body, at least you get three meals a day, clothing, and a place to sleep,” she said. “So, if you’re going to do that to women, pay up.”