The following is a testimony given before the New York City Council Committee on Women’s Issues in favor of Resolution 1635-A on January 18, 2013. The committee passed the resolution, and on January 23 the full council adopted it.
Good morning. My name is Sasha Ahuja and I am testifying on behalf of Joan Malin, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of New York City. I am pleased to be here today to provide testimony in support of Resolution 1635-A, truly important resolution that will ensure that New York City continues to lead our nation in ensuring access to reproductive healthcare.
I want to first thank the Chair of the Women’s Issues Committee, the Hon. Julissa Ferreras, for introducing this resolution and holding this hearing. I also want to especially thank the many Council Members who have already signed onto Resolution 1635-A. Our Board, staff, and our patients are grateful for your support. I also want to take this opportunity to recognize Council Speaker Christine Quinn who has shown unwavering leadership on issues regarding women’s health. We look forward to continuing to work in partnership with Speaker Quinn and the New York City Council to promote the health and well-being of New York’s women, men and teens.
For almost 100 years, Planned Parenthood has been the most trusted name in reproductive health. In the past year alone we provided high-quality, personalized care to over 50,000 women, men, and adolescents at our four health centers in the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Manhattan, and Staten Island. We reached an additional 58,000 people through Project Street Beat, Planned Parenthood of New York City’s unique HIV prevention and access-to-care program that serves women, men, and teens who live and work on New York City’s streets. We also connected 20,000 New Yorkers—youth and adults—to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health education services throughout the five boroughs.
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Planned Parenthood offers a full range of reproductive health services including gynecological care, life-saving cancer screenings, male reproductive health services, contraception, pregnancy testing, abortion, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, and HIV testing and counseling. Through a three-fold mission of clinical services, education, and advocacy, PPNYC is bringing better health and more fulfilling lives to each new generation of New Yorkers. As a voice for reproductive justice, PPNYC supports legislation and policies to ensure that all New Yorkers—and, in fact, people around the world—will have access to the full range of reproductive health care services and information.
This month marks forty years since the landmark Roe v. Wade decision. On the 40th anniversary of Roe, the need for continued access to safe and legal abortion for a woman if and when she needs to consider it could not be more urgent. In the last two years, the anti-women’s health agenda that some in Congress have pursued was rejected by the American people. There was a powerful and unmistakable message to members of Congress and state legislatures all around the country—that women do not want politicians to meddle in their personal medical decisions. We applaud and stand behind the Resolution 1635-A, calling upon the United States Congress to continue to fund comprehensive reproductive health care for all Americans.
As the nation’s leading women’s health care provider and advocate, Planned Parenthood knows firsthand why it’s so critical that women have access to a comprehensive range of reproductive health care services. From courthouses to statehouses to Capitol Hill, Planned Parenthood works to protect access to health care for women across the country — taking action to ensure that women have access to care, no matter what. We care deeply. We care with respect and without judgment. We are unwavering in our belief that all people deserve high- quality, affordable health care. We are tireless in our efforts to provide education and information so people can make their own health decisions. We proudly fight for women to be able to get the reproductive services they need.
We speak before you at a truly opportune moment. Just last week, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo prioritized passing a 10-point Women’s Equality Act this session, a bold agenda that intends to break down barriers that perpetuate discrimination and inequality based on gender. While New York has historically served as a model for equality and fairness on women’s issues, the Women’s Equality Act ensures that New York can again be a leader on issues such as pay equity, increasing protections for pregnant workers, strengthening human trafficking laws, increased protections for survivors of domestic violence and more.
The Women’s Equality Act encompasses the Reproductive Health Act, which guarantees a woman can make her own personal, private health care decisions, especially when her health is endangered. The Reproductive Health Act fixes a troubling gap in New York’s abortion law, making it a potential crime to provide an abortion to protect a woman’s health. The Reproductive Health Act will ensure that a woman can access safe, legal abortion if that’s what she decides she needs. Planned Parenthood of New York City applauds the call for a Women’s Equality Act in New York State, knowing that reproductive health exists at the intersections of the real lives of women and families.
Today, we applaud the New York City Council for taking the lead in moving Resolution 1635-A forward. We urge Congress to continue to champion funding for comprehensive reproductive health care, and hope that New York City can serve as the national model for championing women’s health.