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Spring Newsletter 2019

Donna Lieberman

A message from the NYCLU’s Executive Director Donna Lieberman:

These days I cherish good news wherever I can find it. Fortunately, New Yorkers have more victories to cheer for in the first half of 2019 than any other time in recent memory. After years of neglect, the State Legislature finally is standing for the rights and dignity of all New Yorkers.

Indeed, this has been a landmark year for civil rights and civil liberties in New York. We published our agenda for the first 100 days of the state legislative session and more than half of our proposals have already passed in whole or in part.

With the passage of the Reproductive Health Act (RHA), New York now stands as a safe haven for women. Our law now recognizes abortion care as a fundamental right, bringing our state law in line with the protections provided by Roe v. Wade. And New Yorkers can finally count on insurance coverage for contraceptives. We are well on our way to enjoying early voting, same-day registration and “no-excuse” absentee voting. Gender identity and expression are now protected categories under state civil rights laws. We have seen reforms to bail, speedy trial and criminal discovery laws that should work in concert to improve our justice system.

But lawmakers don’t deserve all of the credit. With engaged supporters like you and countless allied organizations by our side, the NYCLU lit a fire under our elected officials after the midterms and demanded that they protect us from the Trump regime’s backwards agenda.

RHA’s passage infuriated Trump—he even mislead the country about it in his State of the Union Address. To correct the record, RHA takes abortion out of the criminal code and permits the procedure after 24 weeks if the fetus is inviable or the mother’s health is at risk. It allows New Yorkers to receive abortion care from nurse practitioners, physicians’ assistants and licensed midwives, broadening access.

The RHA movement was a decades-long campaign. The debate about whether qualified advanced practice clinicians could perform abortions stemmed from the NYCLU’s advocacy on behalf of a physician’s assistant in the 1990s. We pushed the state to issue guidance in favor of this, as long as abortion care was within the clinicians’ expertise and training. But providers were still reluctant, fearing that DAs would charge them anyway.

While there is still more to do to make New York a bastion of equality, we have certainly made enormous progress.

Our wins speak to the value of persistence and epitomize how we can come together to demand a democracy that works for us. Keep reading to see just a few ways that we are hard at work: ensuring that equity is at the heart of infrastructure projects, standing with the LGBT community, and combatting Trump’s anti-immigrant policies. At, you will see even more.

Thank you for supporting the NYCLU as we push New York to become a safe haven for all New Yorkers.

As bold as the spirit of New York, we are the NYCLU.
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