NYS to welcome ‘abortion refugees,’ sets up $35M fund

— Still frame from Governor Kathy Hochul’s May 10 press conference

“We’re going to stand with the women of our state and don’t mess with us,” said Governor Kathy Hochul on May 10, announcing a $35 million Abortion Services Providers Fund.

Governor Kathy Hochul announced Tuesday that New York State will spend $35 million to expand access to abortions and protect providers, which she termed “a nation-leading response.”

A week ago, Politico published a draft majority opinion, written by Justice Samuel Alito, that the United States Supreme Court would strike down the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that guaranteed federal constitutional protections of abortion rights.

Hochul said at a virtual press conference on Tuesday morning that $25 million will create an Abortion Provider Support Fund to expand access to abortions as she anticipates women will be coming from the 26 states poised to ban abortion once the Supreme Court hands down its decision.

Another $10 million will be used to beef up security for abortion providers. Reproductive health-care centers will be able to access security grants through the Division of Criminal Justice Services.

Hochul said New York would “set an example … to welcome with open arms those that need these services.”

She noted that New York State guaranteed abortion rights three years before Roe v. Wade. In 2019, the state passed the Reproductive Health Act, which offered further protections.

The $35 million is coming from the commissioner of health’s emergency fund, said Hochul, who also praised Commissioner Mary T. Bassett for being “aligned with the rights of women.”

Hochul said that a Republican candidate for governor has said he would appoint a pro-life health commissioner.

Asked about the broader unraveling of rights that may occur with the current Supreme Court, Hochul said she supported amending the state constitution to include not just abortion rights but other civil rights, such as interracial marriage.

In 1967, the Supreme Court, in Loving v. Virginia, struck down state laws banning interracial marriage in the United States, finding that those laws violated the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment.

New York State Senator Liz Krueger, who chairs the finance committee, spoke of the importance of helping “abortion refugees” and said they would be disproportionately low-income, young, and women of color.

Krueger also said that the $35 million was “probably a down payment.”

On Tuesday evening, the Albany Diocese sent a press release, saying it stood by a statement made earlier in the day by Dennis Poust, executive director for the New York State Catholic Conference:

“Governor Hochul’s announcement that she is going to immediately redirect $35 million in taxpayer dollars to enable abortion clinics to expand their capacity to perform even more abortions,” said Poust, “is a grave misuse of state resources and an insult to millions of pro-life New Yorkers.

“Inviting women from out of state to come here to abort their unborn children is a breathtaking reminder of how far our culture has fallen.”

In a reference to Hochul being a Catholic — a faith to which she has frequently referred in public — Poust went on, “In this month of Mary, the Bishops of New York State urge all Catholic New Yorkers to pray through her intercession for a change of heart for all elected officials, particularly those who profess the Catholic faith, and for a building up of a Culture of Life in our state.”

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