President Trump’s New Rule About Abortion, and Governor Cuomo’s Reaction

May 18, 2018

The New York Post reports that the Trump administration has “resurrected a Reagan-era rule banning federally funded family planning clinics from referring women for abortions or sharing space with abortion providers.” It did not take Governor Andrew Cuomo long to respond, within hours, the governor put this statement out: Governor Andrew M. Cuomo issued a letter to New York State Department of Health Commissioner Howard Zucker today directing him to take immediate steps to protect and support New York’s reproductive health facilities, which are critical to families across the state, no matter their financial status. The Governor issued the letter in light of reports of actions to be taken by the federal administration that would silence providers, limit health care, and restrict support for these services. Full text of the letter is available below.

May 18, 2018

Howard A. Zucker, MD, JD.
Commissioner
New York State Department of Health
Corning Tower
Empire State Plaza
Albany, New York 12237


Dr. Zucker:

Today, it has been publicly reported that the White House intends to severely limit the rights of women to choose the health care they need by restricting the ability of providers to freely provide women the full range of health care options. This action is the latest in the White House’s assault on women across this country. It is contrary to the freedom of choice New York stands for and impedes the rights of all New Yorkers to access comprehensive health care. We cannot and will not stand for unwarranted intrusion into the private and confidential relationship between a caregiver and a patient and with this letter I am directing you to take all steps to protect and secure family planning services.

Preserving the support and services offered through the New York Family Planning Program is essential to safeguarding access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services in New York. The Family Planning Program provides foundational sexual and reproductive health services, including disease and infection screening and treatment, birth control and cancer detection, to New Yorkers who may not be able to afford them. This program uses both state and federal Title X funding. The federal government’s proposed action will threaten access to certain vital reproductive services and place undue restrictions on access to basic health services.

Accordingly, I am directing you and the New York State Department of Health to protect all sexual and reproductive health care services provided through the New York Family Planning Program, including by submitting New York’s application for FY2018 Title X funds consistent with current regulations. Further, please work directly with the Governor’s Counsel’s Office to explore all avenues for legal action to counter the White House’s attack on doctor-patient relationship, access to comprehensive reproductive services, and the integrity of federal funding for this fundamental state health care program.

Finally, I intend to call on the New York State U.S. Congressional Delegation to condemn this Administration’s latest assault on women. My administration will continue to protect the sexual and reproductive rights of all New Yorkers, and this urgent effort demands your immediate attention.

Sincerely,
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo