In commemoration of the 51st anniversary of the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, New York State the Senate Democratic Majority, has passed a comprehensive set of laws aimed at strengthening reproductive rights and improving maternal health for all residents of New York.
Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins states, “While reproductive rights are under attack and the U.S. maternal mortality crisis continues to worsen, we are leading the way by passing legislation to address this crisis, and by taking steps to combat the unacceptable racial disparities in maternal mortality.”
This significant legislative package, which passed the Senate, tackle a wide range of issues, including safeguarding healthcare privacy and ensuring access to abortion services. It also addresses the pressing need for improved standards in maternal healthcare, particularly in light of the ongoing crisis surrounding maternal mortality rates in the United States. In 2021, the overall maternal mortality rate was 32.9 per 100,000 live births compared with 23.8 in 2020 and 20.1 in 2019. With Black women facing a signficantly higher risk of maternal death. Those figures are reported to be 69.9 deaths per 100,000 live births among Black women in the U.S. in 2021.
“I am extremely proud of the work we are doing to increase access to quality maternal and reproductive health care in New York.” Senator Lea Webb, Bill sponsor and Chair of the Women’s Issues Committee, adds, “We know that these issues disproportionately impact people of color and rural communities, which often experience poor health outcomes. This package of legislation will make sure that everyone gets equitable access to comprehensive healthcare including but not limited to timely prenatal care, safe birthing experiences, comprehensive postpartum care, and reproductive health services.”
Although several bills have passed both houses and are on their way to Gov. Hochul’s office, not all bills have passed the Assembly. Click the Bill number highlghted below to see where each Bill sits currently. You can also visit: https://www.nysenate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/2024/senate-advances-maternal-health-package-support-reproductive-equity to track the Bills.
Some key highlights of this legislation are as follows;
- Health Information Protection; Sponsored by Senator Liz Krueger, Bill S158B focuses on regulating companies that handle healthcare information to provide individuals with enhanced rights and protections.
- Grant Program for Reproductive Freedom and Equity; Championed by Senator Cordell Cleare, Bill S348C establishes a grant program to support organizations that provide abortion services and assistance.
- Hospital Transparency Act; Senator Michelle Hinchey’s Bill S1003A mandates hospitals to disclose information about available reproductive care services to patients prior to admission.
- Maternal Health Care and Birthing Standards Workgroup; Introduced by Senator Lea Webb, Bill S7702A aims to establish guidelines for high quality perinatal and birthing care that is culturally sensitive. These measures represent significant progress towards ensuring reproductive rights and improving maternal health outcomes throughout New York State.
- An app for Medicaid recipients, championed by Senator Lea Webb as Bill S7700A, aims to provide comprehensive prenatal and postnatal care.
- To ensure equitable healthcare, Senator Lea Webb’s Bill S3610 mandates the inclusion of racial data on maternal deaths in materials designed for maternity patients.
- In an effort led by Senator Samra Brouk through Bill S2039A, routine prenatal and postpartum care will now include screenings for maternal depression.
- Protecting pregnant individuals from penalties during special enrollment periods in health plans is the objective of Senator Cordell Cleare’s Bill S201.
- Senator Cordell Cleare’s Bill S3219A focuses on raising awareness and providing education about uterine fibroids, with a particular emphasis on Black and Brown women.
- Prohibiting the sale of menstrual products that contain harmful carcinogenic substances is at the core of Senator Nathalia Fernández’s Bill S3529A.
- Doula Availability in Maternity Facilities; Senator Roxanne Persaud has sponsored Bills S5991A and S5992A, which aim to ensure that doulas can be present in operating rooms and that expecting mothers have access to their chosen doulas.
NYS Senator and WNY Representative, Sean Ryan issued a statement saying, “The bills we have passed today take a holistic approach to well-being – they promote women’s health, ensure reproductive freedom, and make pregnancy and childbirth safer and less stressful. By focusing on everything from reproductive equity to prenatal and postpartum mental health, we will save lives and improve reproductive outcomes for all.”
Hopefully, these legislative advancements will set a precedent for comprehensive reproductive and maternal healthcare in New York.