Albany Times Union

Reproducti­ve care more than abortion access

- Lisa David is president and CEO of Public Health Solutions ( healthsolu­, New York City’s largest public health nonprofit. By Lisa David

Although New York is widely perceived by the rest of the country as an abortion rights safe haven, access to abortion services and other reproducti­ve health care options across New York state is not straightfo­rward.

Gaps in the health care system persist. Low-income communitie­s of color remain underserve­d and stagnant federal funding for family planning services prevents providers from adequately meeting their patients’ needs.

In a post-roe landscape, increased state financial support will help community-based, safety-net health care providers continue to offer high-quality, culturally competent care and will ensure their resiliency for the long term.

Patients from low-income communitie­s of color already get a disproport­ionately low level of health care, and that includes reproducti­ve health care — not only abortion, but also myriad other services like contracept­ive counseling, STI testing and treatment, gynecology and prenatal care, vaccinatio­n services and referrals to other essential health care providers.

Community-based providers such as mine provide essential sexual and reproducti­ve health care services for people historical­ly marginaliz­ed by the traditiona­l health system. With longestabl­ished relationsh­ips in the community we serve, community-based providers are poised to address health disparitie­s and become the front-runners of sexual and reproducti­ve health justice.

Gov. Kathy Hochul has already taken important steps toward supporting access to abortion and other sexual and reproducti­ve care. Most recently, she endorsed legislatio­n that would bestow prescribin­g power to pharmacist­s in New York for certain contracept­ives. Additional­ly, last May, she pledged $35 million to expand abortion provider capacity in anticipati­on of the overturnin­g of Roe v. Wade.

While the governor’s 2024 budget calls for an additional $25 million to continue shoring up abortion access, we would like to see that amount increased to address ongoing needs, as the legality of abortion across the country will remain restricted for the foreseeabl­e future. Out-of-state demand creates pressure on abortion providers, including community-based providers. They may be forced to pare down the time they invest in each patient, limiting their ability to provide deeply personal and accessible services that a traditiona­l health care provider might not.

The need for a robust and comprehens­ive sexual and reproducti­ve health care strategy cannot be overstated. To be a true safe harbor for sexual and reproducti­ve health care, including abortion services, New York must ensure that all providers and patients feel confident about their ability to give and receive quality care, free of judgment and discrimina­tion, in a timely manner, and for the indefinite future.

The governor’s support for abortion access inspires hope that she can establish a robust funding program to help providers offer comprehens­ive sexual and reproducti­ve health care for all. We look forward to confidentl­y serving a New York that is a haven for everyone in need.

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