Sexual Health and Reproductive Justice
New York City has been a leader on sexual and reproductive health, rights and justice. Thanks to a network of providers across the City who deliver culturally competent care, to funding abortion care outright, to expanding trans healthcare - including Medicaid coverage for gender-affirming healthcare, to finally codifying our State’s abortion law to be in line with Roe v. Wade at the federal level, New Yorkers rely on the healthcare infrastructure of our City to receive comprehensive, non-judgmental sexual and reproductive healthcare that meets their needs.
It goes without saying - reproductive freedom will never be realized until all people have the true economic opportunity to make healthcare decisions that are best for them and their families. Well before COVID-19 hit, race-based health disparities in New York City were stark. Black women in New York are eight times more likely to die of pregnancy-related complications than white women, much higher than the national average. Comprehensive sex education, while recommended by the New York City Department of Education, is not widespread.
Andrew Yang will expand access to sexual reproductive health services, through a LGBTQ+ affirming, racial equity lens, ensuring that we build on the progress we have made to date. A Yang administration will ensure that while we build a better healthcare infrastructure, we also invest in solutions to end disparities in healthcare outside of the healthcare system itself. Ensuring all New Yorkers have safe housing, access to transit, healthy food in their neighborhoods, and are empowered with information to make decisions that are best for them and their families, are key to reducing inequities, and securing true access to sexual and reproductive healthcare.
When it comes to sexual health and reproductive justice, a Yang administration will champion the following measures:
Expand the Reach of Reproductive Health Providers, Especially Safety Net Providers
Now more than ever, safety net providers like Callen Lorde Community Health Clinic and Planned Parenthood of Greater New York, and that provide trusted services to New Yorkers in need could not be more essential as part of our City’s healthcare continuum. We will expand support for all safety net providers that specialize in healthcare services for LGBTQ+ folks, immigrant communities, young people, people seeking reproductive healthcare and providers trusted by immigrant communities, and ensure that deceptive establishments that prey on women of color like “Crisis Pregnancy Centers” are out of business once for all.
Expand Oversight & Enforcement of “Crisis Pregnancy Centers”
Crisis pregnancy centers or pregnancy service centers (PSCs) operate through deceptive services. Often these establishments, which do not have accredited medical providers on site, locate themselves very near to clinics in low-income communities and lure patients in through false advertising and predatory practices. Nearly all PSCs offer free pregnancy testing (most are over-the-counter & self-administered tests) and several offer ultrasounds to clients. Providing these tests and ultrasounds helps foster an impression among women who visit these centers that PSCs are medical facilities. PSCs, however, may not make clear to their clients that they are not actually licensed medical facilities. Other deceptive tactics include: arranging an appointment for an “abortion” and repeatedly postponing the date until it is too late for the woman to have the abortion; misdiagnosing ultrasounds and providing false information on the woman’s medical condition; false information about abortions, including that an abortion will cause the woman to “bleed out and fall into a coma” and subjecting women to violent images. In 2011, the Council enacted legislation to ensure PSCs make certain disclosures to clients both orally and in writing, including: a notice of whether the PSC has a licensed medical provider on staff and a notice that NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) encourages women who are or may be pregnant to consult with a licensed medical professional. But, more can be done. A Yang administration would instruct the Department of Consumer Affairs and Worker Protection (DCWP) to conduct more thorough investigations of known PSCs and increase fines for violating the disclosure laws. And DCWP will conduct public education about crisis pregnancy centers: naming them and providing tools to ensure patients are actually receiving the medical care they seek.
Fund Abortion Care Outright
Thanks to the advocacy of reproductive health providers and patients, New York City is the first municipality to fund abortion services outright, setting an example for cities across the country who are fighting back against the rollback of abortion services. A Yang administration will baseline and expand this funding to ensure that reproductive health providers and safety net providers in particular, can continue to serve all New Yorkers.
Fight to Repeal the Hyde Amendment Once and for All
The Hyde Amendment bans the use of federal Medicaid dollars to pay for abortions, leaving states with the responsibility to opt in to covering the cost. The Hyde Amendment is an explicit attack on poor people, people of color, young people and immigrants — who all disproportionately rely on Medicaid for their health care coverage. While New York State covers the cost of abortion care for people on Medicaid, many states do not, therefore leaving it to patients to pay out of pocket, or carry a pregnancy to term. Andrew Yang will fight with allies in the reproductive health, rights and justice movement to repeal the Hyde Amendment once and for all.
Expand Abortion Training for Healthcare Professionals at H+H
New York state trains one in every seven physicians nationwide and New York City is home to the country's largest public system in the country. Since 2002, Health and Hospitals (H+H) has trained OB-GYNs completing their training in the system on abortion care, a recommended practice for all teaching hospitals according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). A Yang administration will expand abortion training for healthcare professionals at H+H, ensuring that even more healthcare professionals can serve New Yorkers seeking abortion care.
Require Comprehensive, Medically Accurate, Age Appropriate, LGTBQ+ Affirming Sexual Health Education, Every Grade, Every Year
Sex education is only taught for one semester in junior high school and one semester in high school. In 2017, Mayor Bill de Blasio established the Sexual Health Education Task Force, which later recommended that the New York City Department of Education “prioritize a culture of sexual wellness and inclusivity in all NYC schools, implement additional professional development opportunities for health education instructors, improve the content, substance, and methods of sexual health education, and strengthen accountability and reporting of sexual health education implementation.” These recommendations have yet to be implemented. A Yang administration will fully adopt the recommendations of the Sexual Health Education Task Force, and require full implementation of comprehensive, medically accurate, age appropriate, LGBTQ+ affirming sexual and reproductive health education, every grade, every year. A Yang administration will also ensure that the state-mandated HIV/AIDS curriculum, and full implementation of the newly-passed Erin’s Law, to prevent, educate and encourage reporting on child sexual abuse.
Strengthen and Enforce New York City’s Clinic Access Law
Violence, coercion and protest activity outside of New York City’s reproductive health and abortion clinics have increased in the last decade, prompting the passage of the New York City Clinic Access Act, creating a 15 foot “buffer zone” around of healthcare providers’ doors, and codifying the protections of the state and federal Federal Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act. Healthcare providers continue to bear the brunt of little enforcement of this law, with protesters oftentimes harassing and targeting patients, or people who they perceive to be patients, outside of clinics. A Yang administration will work with reproductive health and abortion clinics to fully enforce New York City’s clinic access law, ensuring that all people seeking sexual and reproductive health services can do so safely and without intimidation.
Amend the New York City Charter to Make Ending Racial Health Disparities the Mandate of DOHMH
A Yang administration will amend the New York City Charter to ensure that ending racial health disparities is among the primary mandates of DOHMH. The leaders that Yang appoints to DOHMH and other relevant city agencies will represent the diversity of New York City and make ending racial health disparities a top priority.
Require Racial Equity Competency for All Healthcare Providers in New York City
Building on the tremendous work of the Center for Health Equity under former New York City DOHMH Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett, a Yang administration will require racial equity competency as part of teaching and learning at all H+H hospitals, available to providers citywide in partnership with DOHMH, and a requirement for nonprofit organizations seeking City funding to deliver healthcare services.
Build a Diverse, Culturally Competent Public Health Workforce
There is abundant evidence that shows that when communities of color are served by providers who they identify with, outcomes are better. A Yang administration will create a pipeline program for prospective healthcare providers of color to serve communities of color across the five boroughs. With the City University of New York (CUNY) and Health and Hospitals (H+H), we will expand fast-track pipelines into healthcare careers for New York City high school graduates, particularly those of color, who are eager to serve diverse communities in New York City, if they commit to serve New Yorkers upon graduation.