City Council Democrats launched a $1 million fund Tuesday that will bankroll abortion services for women who can’t afford them — an effort aimed at solidifying New York’s status as a safe haven for reproductive rights in the wake of the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe v. Wade.
The fund, which will be available to low-income residents of any state, marks the largest commitment of municipal funds for free abortion services by any city in the country, Council Speaker Adrienne Adams said during an afternoon press conference on the steps of City Hall.
“New York City is ready to support anyone who needs assistance accessing abortion and reproductive health care,” said Adams, who was joined by a dozen of her fellow female Democratic Council members and abortion rights activists. “This funding will save lives and reflects the role that our city plays as a leader in reproductive justice.”
Half of the investment — $500,000 — is earmarked for abortion procedures, while the remaining funds are set aside to cover travel, accommodation and other expenses incurred by women seeking care, according to Council officials. The money comes from the three separate funding streams, including a discretionary pot of cash controlled by the speaker.
Chelsea Williams-Diggs, executive director of the New York Abortion Access Fund, which will help distribute the money, acknowledged that abortion procedures aren’t cheap.
“Our average purchase price is $1,000 (per abortion procedure),” she said.
The average price for accommodation and other related expenses, meantime, is about $1,400 per abortion, said Odile Schalit, program director for the Brigid Alliance, a nonprofit that will handle the logistical end of the initiative.
The monetary breakdowns mean about 500 individuals will be able to receive free abortions thanks to the new fund.
Queens Councilmember Tiffany Caban said a critical aspect of the effort is that it puts cash directly into people’s pockets.
“I’m really, really glad to see our municipal funds used in this way, without the red tape and saying that, ‘You know best, you have autonomy to make the decisions you need to be safe and healthy,’” said Caban, a progressive Democrat.
The initiative comes on the heels of the Supreme Court’s June 24th decision to strike down Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 ruling that established a federal constitutional right to abortion.
Following the earth-shattering Supreme Court decision, several Republican-led states have moved to ban abortion outright, in many cases without exceptions for incest or rape. On Tuesday, Republicans in Congress attempted to take it a step further, introducing a long-shot bill that would outlaw abortion nationwide after 15 weeks of pregnancy.
New York City has been at the forefront of pushing back against the top court’s ruling by expanding abortion access locally.
Last month, Mayor Adams signed six bills into law bolstering abortion rights in the city — including one measure that requires the Health Department to provide abortion pills for free to patients seeking to terminate pregnancies.
During Tuesday’s press conference at City Hall, Speaker Adams stressed that the city’s various abortion initiatives are primarily aimed at helping low-income women — no matter where they live.
“We know that low-income individuals and those who can’t afford care are the most impacted by the dangerous decision that the Supreme Court rendered this summer, and — I will even add — the dangerous decisions that our lawmakers in Washington are making even today,” the speaker said.