Question 1: The Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade that the United States Constitution protects an individual’s right to decide to have an abortion before fetal viability (and later if her life or health is endangered). Do you support this legal precedent and the subsequent decision in the 2016 case Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt?
In 1970, New York became one of the first states to legalize abortion. This historic step helped set the stage for Roe v. Wade (1973) and abortion rights nationwide. Today, the need to actively defend a woman’s reproductive rights is no less critical. Well-organized anti-choice forces continue to erode a woman’s constitutional right to choose around the country. All lawmakers must remain vigilant in their support for Roe v. Wade, and the other crucial Supreme Court decisions that protect abortion rights for women including the 2016 Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstadt decision, which reaffirmed a woman’s constitutional right to access legal abortion and rejected laws intended to shutter abortion clinics with medically unnecessary red tape.
Question 2: Do you oppose abortion bans, including those that ban abortion based on fetal age, ban a particular medical or surgical abortion method, or ban particular reasons for abortion, including sex, race, or fetal health?
A number of states – and even the U.S. House of Representatives – have passed legislation in recent years to ban abortion pre-viability, without even an exception for a woman whose health is endangered during pregnancy. These measures not only undermine the legal standards established in Roe v. Wade, but also endanger women’s health and safety by willfully disregarding the reality that serious health issues can arise at any stage of pregnancy. These abortion bans are a cruel attempt by anti-choice forces to curb access to care for women in the most desperate of circumstances. Abortion bans based on particular reasons like sex, race or fetal health are also red herrings. Sex-selection bans, which have proliferated around the country as of late, are largely based on racist assumptions about Asian immigrant cultures. There is no data that indicates that sex-selective abortion is a problem in New York or nationwide. Attempts to enforce them would perpetuate further discrimination in their communities through stereotyping and racial profiling of Asian women whose motivations for an abortion would be under suspicion. At the most practical level, any such restriction would be neither enforceable nor effective, as already demonstrated internationally, but simply serve to restrict access to medical care.
Question 5: Do you oppose policies that punish women who induce their own abortions?
Self-managed abortion (sometimes called self-induced or self-abortion) refers to ending a pregnancy on one’s own, outside of a clinical setting and without the involvement of a medical provider. This is often done using the abortion pill and can be safe and effective when taken according to evidence-based recommendations. Women sometimes end their own pregnancies using less safe and effective methods, ranging from herbal remedies to dangerous physical methods. Through heightened rhetoric and legal restrictions on abortion, the federal government and states across the country are making it harder to get an abortion at a medical facility. At the same time, information about and access to medication abortion has become more widely available. Laws that threaten women with jail time for self-administering an abortion do not deter women from ending their pregnancies; they serve only to harm women by deterring them from seeking out accurate information about their options in advance or medical care if they need it afterwards.
Question 6: Do you support the Women’s Health Protection Act and similar measures to prevent states from placing an undue burden on women seeking abortion care?
This important legislation would prohibit states from imposing restrictions on abortion that apply to no similar medical care, interfere with patient’s personal decision making, and block access to safe, legal abortion care. It would prohibit state and federal politicians from imposing a range of dangerous anti-choice provisions, and help stem the overwhelming tide of anti-choice measures passed in statehouses throughout the country over the last five years.
Question 11: Do you oppose policies that prohibit any community-based organizations in the US and nongovernmental organizations abroad that receive federal funding from providing information about abortion (known domestically as the gag rule and internationally as the Mexico City Policy or global gag rule)?
The global gag rule, reinstituted by President Trump in 2017, prevents U.S. family planning assistance from going to NGOs working internationally that use funding from any other source to perform abortions in cases of rape, incest or a threat to the woman’s life, provide counseling and referral for abortion, or lobby to make abortion legal or more available in their country. The policy forced a cruel choice on NGOs – to accept U.S. assistance to provide essential health services but with restrictions that may jeopardize the health of many patients or reject the policy and lose vital U.S. funds, contraceptive supplies and technical assistance. Research by Population Action International has shown that while the gag rule was in effect it eroded family planning and reproductive health services in developing countries. There was no evidence that it reduced the incidence of abortion globally. On the contrary, it impeded the very services that help women avoid unwanted pregnancy from the start.
Question 12: Do you oppose the Helms Amendment which restricts the use of U.S. foreign assistance for abortion care?
The United States Foreign Assistance Act of 1973, or the Helms Amendment, says “No foreign assistance funds may be used to pay for the performance of abortion as a method of family planning or to motivate or coerce any person to practice abortions.”
Introduced by Sen. Jesse Helms (R-NC), the Helms Amendment was passed as a permanent part of the Foreign Assistance Act, and has been in effect ever since. Despite the clear intent to be a limitation on abortion funding for family planning purposes, it has been interpreted and enforced by every presidential administration as an outright ban on funding abortion for any reason—even in cases of rape, incest, and threat to a woman’s life. The Helms Amendment has been criticized as imperialistic and dangerous to the lives of women who will seek unsafe abortions in the absence of access to safe abortion services.
Question 13: Do you oppose policies and legislation that allow people to impose their own personal views on the rights of others who use reproductive health care in medical institutions, through medical providers and accessing that care either through public or private insurance.
A patchwork of federal and state laws allows hospitals, pharmacies, and medical providers to refuse to provide abortion and contraception to individuals seeking those services. Similarly, some employers and insurance companies are permitted to deny insurance coverage for these services if they can claim religious or moral objection. The morality of an institution should not supersede the right of an individual to access reproductive health services safely and affordably.
Question 14: Do you support access to abortion care regardless of immigration status, including for minors in Office of Refugee Resettlement, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement or other federal custody?
In 2018, the Trump-Pence administration introduced a new policy that requires immigrants under the age of 18 who are in custody with the HHS Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) to get the government’s approval to access safe, legal abortion. The ORR denied at least seven young immigrants’ requests for abortion — even when the pregnancy resulted from rape. All of these women were ultimately able to access abortion despite the government’s extreme efforts.
In an overreach of power, the ORR director received a weekly updated spreadsheet on the condition of every pregnant teen in its custody. The ORR went so far as to consider forcing a teenage girl in custody to undergo an experimental and unproven treatment to “reverse” an abortion.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) used to have limits on detaining pregnant immigrants that almost always required releasing them on bond or under supervision. However, the administration has expanded ICE’s power to detain pregnant immigrants. The new policy to hold pregnant immigrants in custody during their immigration proceedings is having devastating effects on the detained women, their pregnancies, and their families. The number of undocumented pregnant people who had miscarriages while in government detention nearly doubled in the administration’s first two years.
Question 16: Do you support policies and programs that expand access to contraception, including requiring insurance companies to cover contraception without cost sharing and federal funding for family planning services through Title X and oppose any efforts to restrict abortion access via changes to Title X?
In 2019, the Trump administration implemented an unethical and dangerous gag rule making it illegal for health care providers in the program to tell patients how they can safely and legally access abortion and imposed new rules designed to make it impossible for reproductive health providers to serve Title X patients. This has forced longstanding Title X grantees from the program – including the New York State Department of Health and Public Health Solutions, which have used Title X funds to provide support to 50 agencies across the state to ensure cost is never a barrier to preventive reproductive health care. In doing the right thing, and refusing to implement the gag rule, the State and PHS collectively lost approximately $15 million in federal Title X funds.
Question 19: Do you oppose legislation that requires minors to obtain parental notice or consent before obtaining an abortion, or legislation that makes it a federal crime for a trusted adult to travel with a minor seeking abortion care across state lines?
This kind of legislation is an attack on the abortion rights of young people whose access is already threatened. In many states, anti-choice legislators have passed laws requiring young women to receive parental consent prior to having an abortion. Studies show that most young women voluntarily notify at least one parent when seeking an abortion. Most parents agree that whether or not their child can come to them, she should have timely access to safe medical care and counseling. But laws preventing interstate travel would prevent a young woman in these difficult situations from seeking important help from other trusted adults in their lives.