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NYCLU Joins Rally For March For Women’s Lives

This is a statement from LeeChe Leong, Director of NYCLU’s Teen Health Initiative Project.

Thank you to the City Council for holding this press conference today. I’m honored to represent the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU). The NYCLU is the New York State affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union and has approximately 35,000 members across New York State. The ACLU is a proud co- sponsor of the March for Women’s Lives taking place in DC this Sunday, April 25th. As the Director of the NYCLU’s Teen Health Initiative, I deal with the effects of restricted health care access every day. For this reason, we are thrilled to lead a diverse contingent to Washington and to bring a group of young advocates of today – who will be the leaders of tomorrow – to a gathering of youth activists the day before the march.

Thanks to the Supreme Court’s holding in Roe v Wade over 30 years ago, girls grow up today never having known a time of illegal, degrading, and even fatal abortions. However, for more and more women – especially poor women, women living in rural areas, and young women — legal abortions are increasingly out of reach. In the last eight years alone, states have pushed through more than 330 measures restricting reproductive freedom. These laws curtail access to not only abortion but also to contraceptives, sexuality education, and other essential reproductive health care services. In this hostile national environment it is especially heartening to have the support of the city council in recognizing that a woman’s right to make private health care decisions is essential. Having access to accurate information as well as approved and affordable birth control, being able to choose safe and legal abortion, and deciding whether and when to bear children are basic human rights.

We further applaud the City Council for the report it released today, which found that only three-quarters of hospitals in New York City (and barely half of Brooklyn hospitals) are in compliance with City and State laws mandating that emergency contraception be offered and provided upon request to rape survivors. As the City Council’s report notes, this is unacceptable. Not only are these hospitals patently defying the law, they also are failing to abide by standards of practice as set out by medical authorities and potentially compounding a rape survivor’s loss of control by risking an unintended pregnancy. The NYCLU fully supports the City Council’s call for these hospitals to comply with applicable laws, for Congress to pass the Compassionate Assistance for Rape Emergencies Act, for the FDA to approve over-the-counter status for the emergency contraception Plan B, and for the New York State Senate to pass the Unintended Pregnancy Prevention Act.

We hope that all of you here today can join us in promoting the power and vision of a multicultural and diverse social justice movement that is truly committed to the self determination of women and reproductive freedom for all regardless of class, race or sexual orientation by marching for women’s lives this Sunday, April 25th.

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