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FCLNY'S 2023 NYS Bills Packet: EXPANSIVE MEASURES REGARDING THE WELL-BEING OF WOMEN AND CHILDREN

Updated: May 4, 2023

Dear NYS Legislator:

Feminists Choosing Life of NY (FCLNY) is a state-wide human rights organization that educates on the root causes and impacts of publicly sanctioned lethal violence.

We have compiled a ten (10) bill package containing expansive measures regarding the well-being of women and children.

Please find below pending laws we ask you to carefully consider; eight (8) we urge you to enact, and two (2) we ask you to oppose, on behalf of not only your constituents, but women and children across our great state.

Sincerely,

FCLNY


 

VOTE YES


1. UNBORN VICTIMS OF VIOLENCE ACT, S.5308


NYS Senate Codes Committee, March 1, 2023

NYS Assembly, No analogous bill


This bill provides that an unborn child, at any age, may be a victim of an assault or homicide. The bill carefully exempts unborn children who die because of a legal abortion, normal medical treatment or because of actions taken by his/her mother.

NYS repealed its long-standing fetal homicide law, and re-defined “person” for homicide purposes, when it enacted the Reproductive Health Act in 2019. As a consequence, NYS fell behind the majority of states that provide protection and justice for victims of violence, including unborn children.


Scientific consensus is clear: Human beings begin their existence at fertilization. Under current NYS Penal Law, a person is defined as a “human being who has been born and is alive.” It is no longer a separate crime in NYS for third party criminal assailants to kill unborn children, regardless of their gestational age and despite whether they are ‘wanted’ or ‘unwanted.’ Neither is there any particular enhanced statutory penalty for abusers to harm or kill pregnant women.


Homicide is a leading cause of death of pregnant women and their unborn children in the U.S. Homicide deaths for pregnant women are more prevalent than deaths from obstetric causes. In other words, more pregnant women die because of vicious attacks against them rather than for physiological reasons.


It is now well documented that: "It's not high blood pressure, hemorrhage or sepsis that is more likely to kill pregnant women -- it's their husbands and boyfriends."


The U.S. has a higher rate of intimate partner violence than other affluent countries, and the problem is growing. Pregnancy-associated homicides are also increasing, and most pregnant homicide victims are killed by third party criminal assailants– abusive current or former intimate partners.


Violence against women is a “major public health” concern and a “violation of women’s human rights.” Violence against women, especially pregnant women, necessitates a comprehensive approach towards its alleviation and elimination, including prosecutorial tools for perpetrator accountability.


The least any progressive society owes women and children is the opportunity to hold abusers accountable for violent acts perpetrated against them.

 

2. AFFORDABLE CHILD CARE STUDY, A.01852


NYS Senate, No analogous bill

NYS Assembly Children and Families Committee, January 23, 2023


The bill purposes to help ensure access to affordable, quality child care in NYS for “low to moderate income families, especially for single parents.” It directs that “particular attention” focus on the relationship between child care subsidies and the “ability of working families to achieve self-sufficiency.”


The bill directs the Office of Children and Family Service to conduct a study of child care availability, child care assistance and child care funding in NYS. The bill seeks to aid the Child Care Availability Task Force’s efforts to address the deficiencies of NYS’ child care system. The study the bill seeks to implement will “not only look at the current number of providers, but also the cost, quality, labor force, waiting lists and transportation barriers across the state” regarding child care.


Parents throughout NYS lack access to affordable, quality childcare. Research demonstrates that NYS’ child care system is in crisis, and “on the verge of collapse.” Various programs in NYS provide free or low-cost child care to poor families, including the EarlyLearn Program and the NYS Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP). Despite NYS’ efforts to improve access to child care, including increasing the income eligibility standards for child care subsidies, affordable child care for low-income parents and children is largely out of reach. For example, in NYC, “State funding will only cover 15% or 10,800 out of 72,000 of … eligible families.” According to the bill’s justification “only 22% of income-eligible families are receiving subsidies,” state-wide.


For years, NYS has ineffectively and inefficiently addressed our state’s child care crisis through “piecemeal approaches and temporary solutions,” resulting in a child care system currently “on life support.”


New York families deserve access to affordable, quality child care.

 

3. WORKING FAMILIES TAX CREDIT, S.277A, A.04022A


NYS Senate Finance Committee, March 1, 2023

NYS Assembly Ways and Means Committee, February 17, 2023


This proposed law creates the New York Working Families Tax credit, which, among other things, provides working families a maximum tax credit of $1,500 per child, and, regardless of income, a minimum credit of $500 per child.


The Working Families Tax Credit streamlines NYS’ Earned Income Tax Credit and Empire State Child Tax Credit “to provide working families with increased support while lessening the additional cost to the state.” It fills in gaps within the other tax credit schemes, including by applying to children from birth to 3 years old, and by eliminating “the cap on the number of children eligible to receive a credit.” Further, payments will be made to families quarterly rather than in one lump annual sum.


The bills were introduced in response to the federal government’s unwillingness to recently renew the expanded federal child tax credit provided in the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the ARPA child tax credit “ lifted 2.1 million children out of poverty. It helped drive child poverty to 5.2%, a drop of 46%, according to the bureau’s Supplemental Poverty Measure.


Over 2 million New Yorkers, including nearly 715,000 children in NYS live in poverty. According to the Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy,


  • NYS children are “more likely to live in poverty” than children in the vast majority of other states, with nearly one in five NYS children experiencing poverty.

  • NYS rate of poverty also disproportionately impacts children of color. Minority children in NYS experience a near 30% poverty rate.

  • Families with young children experience higher poverty rates than other families and “the birth of a child is the leading trigger of ‘poverty spells’ experienced by families.”


The American Academy of Pediatrics reports the following regarding the impacts of poverty on children,


The link between poverty and children’s health is well recognized.

[P]overty in childhood continues to have a negative effect on health into adulthood. Poverty has direct negative effects on early brain development through the mechanism of toxic stress. Children growing up in low-income families and low-income neighborhoods face a daunting array of psychosocial and environmental inequities [including food insecurity and inadequate housing or homelessness].


Higher infant mortality rates among the impoverished [exist]. Children in the poorest 20% of urban populations in the United States are twice as likely to die before their first birthday compared with children in the richest 20% of the population.Children raised in poverty have been shown to have higher levels of depression and antisocial behavioral problems than those raised in families with adequate incomes. Depression in poor children younger than 18 years has been linked to substance abuse, poor academic performance, teen childbearing, and unemployment.


The justification for the proposed Working Families Tax Credit estimates that the tax will result in a “13.4% reduction” in child poverty in NYS, with a “19.6% reduction” for children living in “deep poverty.”


Poverty is a root cause of the most visceral harms experienced by members of our human family. Effective measures that reduce poverty should be government’s top priority.

 

4. DOULA DIRECTORY, S.1867, A.05435


NYS Senate, Passed, Referred to Senate Health Committee, March 1, 2023

NYS Assembly Health Committee, March 10, 2023


These pending bills require the Department of Health (DOH) to establish and maintain a Doula Directory on the DOH website, for Medicaid reimbursement and Doula promotion.


Doulas are health care workers that provide physical, emotional, and informational support to women before, during and after the birth of children.


It is well documented that the U.S. has the highest rate of maternal mortality “among high income countries,” and that women of color are disproportionately impacted. Maternal morbidity and mortality is a public health crisis, and has been for “far too long.” Poor infant and maternal health outcomes “pose a threat to the health, welfare, and quality of life” of women, children and families.


NYS has not stepped up and continues to “lack adequate and equitable” health care for pregnant women. Women of color experience significantly higher rates of pregnancy complications and “mistreatment during the course of their pregnancy.”


According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine doula care during pregnancy is “one of the most effective tools to improve labor and delivery outcomes,” including for minority women and children.


Studies on the effectiveness of doula care conclusively demonstrate that women who are supported by a doula during labor and childbirth are less likely to require a cesarean birth or use pain medication, and more likely to give birth spontaneously, have a shorter labor, and feel satisfied with their birthing experience.


Pregnancy involves two lives, mother and child. Helping both achieve health and wholeness is the hallmark of vibrant civilized societies.

 

5. PARENTAL NOTIFICATION OF ABORTION, MINORS, S.2911, A.03398


NYS Senate Women’s Issues Committee, Notice of Committee Consideration, March 16, 2023

NYS Assembly Health Committee, February 3, 2023


This proposed law requires “at least one parent or legal guardian” of an un-emancipated minor receive “written notification from a physician or his/her agent within 48 hours prior to the … performance of an abortion” on such minor child. "


Exceptions are provided for in these bills. For example, parental notification is not necessary where minors obtain a judicial bypass or when “a medical emergency exists.”


In light of the impacts of NYS’ Reproductive Health Act (RHA) on abortion policy in NYS parental notification requirements for minors seeking abortions is essential to the well-being of young women. Uncertainty surrounds the safety of abortions in NYS for women and girls because of the RHA, particularly due to its failure to require the Department of Health to track, report and publish categorized abortion complication data or to require abortion related ‘informed consent’ pre-abortions, while at the same time repealing long-standing common sense safeguards surrounding the abortion procedure in NYS.


  • The RHA removed NYS’ statutory requirement that only duly licensed physicians perform abortions and that a second physician be present during surgical abortions performed on fetuses 20+ weeks gestation.

  • The RHA neglected to define exactly who can perform abortions, including second and third trimester abortions.

  • The RHA repealed NYS’ requirement that second and third trimester abortions be performed in hospitals, and failed to specifically require that these abortions occur in ambulatory surgical centers or similar facilities.

  • The RHA also failed to require that all facilities that provide abortions undergo annual or random state health department inspections.


Abortion complications increase where abortion guidelines are lax, like in NYS. Oregon, which has abortion policies similar to NYS, has more than double the averaged abortion complication rate (36.68) than all states (15.76) with more abortion regulations than Oregon and NYS, and that also track, report and publish abortion complication data. NYS does not publish any categorized abortion complication data.


Young females that undergo abortions are also at risk for a slew of psychological problems. According to a 25 year longitudinal study published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, females between the ages of 15-25 who had an abortion experienced “elevated rates of subsequent mental health problems including depression, anxiety, suicidal behaviours and substance use disorders,” which “persisted after adjustment for confounding factors.”


In NYS, a minor can obtain an abortion during the first, second and third trimester of pregnancy, in a facility other than a hospital, ambulatory surgical center or similar facility, performed by an individual other than a physician, while lacking concrete knowledge of alternatives to abortion or the documented psychological risks associated with abortion, without notice to any parent, legal guardian, or any adult- other than the abortionist.


A double standard exists in NYS relevant to minors or children, their engagement in potentially dangerous activities, and standards utilized for their protection. Parental involvement is required in NYS when minors get body piercings, but not when they undergo abortion procedures, even invasive surgical abortions.



[A]bortion should be treated as any other medical or surgical procedure. Medical care of children and adolescents uniformly requires written and verbal parental consent for any procedure – inside or outside of a medical office. For example, written parental consent is required for minor children to receive over-the-counter medications when in day care or at school. This is because appropriate medical care can only be provided within the context of the patient’s family and medical history. Physicians would be considered negligent if they did not obtain past medical and family history when providing care for a patient. This information is more crucial when a patient faces a surgical procedure that occurs in some abortions, and it is the parents who are more likely to have the complete medical information required for optimal medical care of the adolescent.


Regarding potential abortion complications, the American College of Pediatrics says this, Parents or guardians of minors "help monitor an adolescent for complications after ... medical procedure[s]... ." They "help ensure compliance with medical instructions, prescriptions, and follow-up medical care. "


In an Amicus Brief submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court on Roper vs. Simmons, 543 U.S. 551 (2005), a death penalty case involving a minor, the American Psychological Association argued against its applicability to minors and won. Their reasoning is similar to why minors cannot ‘consent’ to participating in sex trafficking: During adolescence “the brain has not reached adult maturity, particularly in the frontal lobes, which control executive functions of the brain related to decision-making.”


When parental notification laws for abortion were introduced in Minnesota teens, 15-17 years old, became more sexually responsible, abortion rates for these minors markedly decreased and birth rates continued to fall for this population. Research from multiple sources including from states other than Minnesota also demonstrates “benefits when parental involvement laws are instituted, including a decrease in abortion rates without an increase in birth rates, a possible decrease in sexually transmitted infections, as well as a decrease in suicide and depression.”


Minors cannot be subject to the death penalty. Neither can they consent to being sex trafficked under the law. Nor should they be subjugated to abortions as though they were adults. Abortion related parental notification empowers girls.

 

6. DIAPERS FOR FAMILIES, S.1210, A.02872


NYS Senate Finance Committee, January 24, 2023

NYS Assembly Ways and Means Committee, March 9, 2023


These bills provide a modest diaper allowance that will help the poorest of families afford diapers for their infants and toddlers. The proposed law provides low-income parents with children under the age of three (3) with an eighty (80) dollar quarterly diaper allowance.


Over 11 million kids in the U.S. live below the federal poverty line, and a sizeable percentage are infants and toddlers, who need diapers, including in NYS.


Diaper need is common among low-income families, and disproportionately impacts minority children. The lack of diapers increases health risks for children and is “associated with increased pediatric care visits.”


It is well-cited that when poor families have sufficient diaper supplies, the overall health of their infants and toddlers improves and parents attend work more regularly. Providing diapers to underserved families also helps eliminate substantial short and long-term medical costs and increases state tax revenues.


Tangible resources, including items as benign as diapers, have the power and potential to positively transform the lives of families in need.

 

7. HOSPITAL STAYS - POOR MATERNITY PATIENTS, NEWBORNS, S.1241, A.05966


NYS Senate Health Committee, On Floor Calendar, February 6, 2023

NYS Assembly Health Committee, March 24, 2023


These bills require Medicaid to cover the hospital stays of Medicaid maternity patients and newborns for “at least 48 hours after natural delivery and 96 hours following cesarean section.”


If enacted into law, these bills will ensure “that those covered by Medicaid are not treated differently than those covered by private insurance. It establishes the same mandatory minimum periods of coverage under Medicaid that private insurers are bound to provide.”


For almost three decades, 48/96 hour hospital stays in NYS for women and children after birth have been covered by private insurance. Such coverage has largely excluded economically disadvantaged women who are covered by Medicaid from receiving the same minimum coverage after delivery.

Short hospital stays can be detrimental to the health of the mother and newborn, especially since conditions which affect newborns, including jaundice,”ductal-dependant cardiac lesions and gastrointestinal obstruction” are not apparent within the first 24 hours of life. In addition, studies show benefits to both mother and child as a result of longer hospital stays after birth, including, “more stable blood sugar” for infants and less “postpartum depression” for mothers.


Disadvantaged mothers and newborns are as worthy of appropriate health care as those more privileged. Justice demands equal treatment of all people.

 

8. PREGNANT WOMEN AND HEALTH INSURANCE PENALTIES, S.201, A.02656


NYS Senate, Passed, Referred to Senate Insurance Committee, March 1, 2023

NYS Assembly Insurance Committee, January 26, 2023


These bills allow pregnant women to enroll in state “health insurance during a special enrollment periods without penalty” or fees. A primary purpose of this bill is to eliminate a potential financial barrier to obtaining health insurance coverage for pregnant mothers and their unborn children, including health insurance coverage for prenatal care.


Prenatal care is covered by private health insurance as well as Medicaid. Prenatal care is essential to the health and well-being of mothers and their unborn children. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Women’s Health-


Babies of mothers who do not get prenatal care are three times more likely to have a low birth weight and five times more likely to die than those born to mothers who do get care. Doctors can spot health problems early when they see mothers regularly. This allows doctors to treat them early. Early treatment can cure many problems and prevent others.


This bill opens up vital, necessary services for women and children, including children in utero. Before passage, these bills should make it clear that the waiver of penalties and fees proposed apply to both mothers and unborn children in order for them to receive prenatal care and other healthcare that benefits both.


Pregnant women should not be penalized for seeking prenatal care for themselves and their unborn children.

 

VOTE NO


9. THE REPRODUCTIVE FREEDOM AND EQUITY GRANT, S.348B, A.00361A


NYS Senate, Passed, Referred to Senate Health Committee, January 24, 2023

NYS Assembly Health Committee, January 23, 2023


This proposed law provides funding to NYS “abortion providers and non-profit organizations to increase access to abortion,” including for out-of-state abortion seeking women. Under this program, grants would be issued by the NYS Department of Health to abortion providers and non-profit organizations to "expand building capacity," “fund uncompensated” abortion services “for those who lack coverage or for those whose coverage is not usable” and to “support the practical … needs for individuals facing barriers to abortion.”


The bills define practical support as direct assistance that enables a person to obtain an abortion, “including but not limited to ground and air transportation, gas money, lodging, meals, childcare, [and] translation services.” Expansion of building capacity includes “the establishment of new or renovation of existing” abortion providing facilities.


The bills were introduced anticipating that approximately 190,000 - 280,000 women will travel to NYS for abortions after the overturn of Roe vs. Wade.


NYS does not need more abortion access. According to the Guttmacher Institute NYS already has an abortion rate MORE THAN 2x the national average and more than 250 abortion providing facilities within its borders.


Further, rather than help fund any non-profit that provides abortion alternatives, including adoption services, these bills fund ONLY non-profits that help women obtain abortions.


Without options there can be no choice.


Women and girls in NYS and BEYOND are being incentivized to abort their children, especially minority females, considering abortions' disproportionate impact on minority communities. Rather than fund abortions for out-of-state persons with NYS taxpayer dollars, monies are desperately needed to fund services for women, children and families that reside in NYS, including affordable, quality child care, better pregnancy health care and assistance, tangible resources, including diapers, and tax credits that will lift people out of poverty.

 

10. NYS ABORTION TELEHEALTH PROTECTIONS, S.1066A, A.01709A


NYS Senate, Passed, Referred to Senate Codes Committee, January 24, 2023

NYS Assembly Codes Committee, February 9, 2023


These bills ensure “telehealth services are explicitly included in existing safe-guards and protections for reproductive health care services,” enacted into law, June 13, 2022.


In June of 2022 NYS’ Governor signed into law a package of bills enacted by the NYS Legislature aimed at protecting NYS abortionists, and abortion access for women and girls traveling to NYS from 'anti-abortion' states.


This abortion-protecting bills package included


The law makes it unlawful to “attempt to or purport to prevent or limit travel” to NYS for legal abortions, or to engage in behavior that puts those who travel to NYS for abortions at risk of civil and criminal actions brought in Courts outside of NYS seeking to punish persons for traveling to NYS for legal abortions.


  • NYS Abortion Providers, Extradition, Courts and Police S9077A/A10372A

This law creates a “statutory exception for the extradition of abortion providers” regarding legal abortions performed in NYS on out-of-state abortion seeking women from anti-abortion states or states where the abortion performed in NYS would have been illegal if performed in that state. The law prohibits “courts from cooperating” with any “individual or out-of-state agency or department” regarding abortions performed legally in NYS on women from anti-abortion states. The law also forbids law enforcement from cooperating with any individual or out-of-state agency regarding “the provision of a lawful abortion” in NYS, and bars police officers from arresting “any person for performing or aiding in the performance” of a legal NYS abortion.


Among other things, the law prohibits filing or initiating “professional misconduct” charges or “disciplinary measures” against healthcare practitioners for providing legal abortions in NYS to women who reside in anti-abortion states.


The law further ensures that out-of-state, prospective NYS healthcare practitioners are NOT DENIED “licensure, certification or authorization” to perform abortions in NYS solely on the basis of being subject to disciplinary actions by another jurisdiction for performing abortions otherwise legal in NYS.


  • NYS Abortion Providers & Medical Malpractice Insurance Claims S9080B/ A9718B

Among other things, the law prohibits medical malpractice insurance companies from taking “any adverse action” against NYS healthcare practitioners for performing legal NYS abortions, including such abortions on out-of-state women from anti-abortion states.


The law protects NYS health care practitioners from medical malpractice insurance claims for legally prescribing “abortion medication to out-of-state patients by means of telehealth.” Adverse actions include, but are not limited to "refusing to renew or execute a contract or agreement with a healthcare provider; making a report or commenting to an appropriate private or governmental entity regarding practices of such provider which may violate abortion laws in other states; [] increasing in any charge for, or a reduction or other adverse or unfavorable change in the terms of coverage or amount for, any medical malpractice insurance contract or agreement with a healthcare provider."


  • NYS Abortion Providers, Others, and Address Confidentiality, S9384A/A9818A

This law expands NYS’ Address Confidentiality Program (ACP) to allow individuals associated with abortion to enroll. People eligible to enroll, under this law, include abortion providers, their immediate family members, employees, volunteers and patients, including persons who assist others in obtaining abortions at the request of other persons. The justification for the law claims these persons “face threats of physical violence by anti-abortion extremists” and cite the National Abortion

Federation for evidence. No mention is made regarding violent threats made by pro-abortion extremists against peaceful anti-abortion activists, for which there is ample evidence as reported in major news outlets.


Women and girls deserve better than abortion. Abortion oppresses and degrades women, and kills children in utero. Our feminist foremothers including Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton fought against policies that treated women as property. During their lifetimes “both women vociferously condemned abortion,” or foeticide, the word they used to reference abortion. They shared a “revulsion of abortion.”


According to Stanton,


“When we consider that women are treated as property, it is degrading to women that we should treat our children as property to be disposed of as we see fit.”


Pro-life feminists recognize the inherent value and dignity of all human beings. True feminism empowers and protects vulnerable human beings rather than seeks their destruction. Pro-life feminism promotes political, social and economic justice for all people throughout every stage of human development, beginning at conception through infancy and childhood, adolescence, adulthood and old age, including through the natural end of life.


 

















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