New York Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul signed a bill into law Friday that legally protects doctors who prescribe and send abortion pills to patients in states where abortion services are outlawed or restricted.
“We are witnessing a shameful regression of women’s rights in this country as abortion access is restricted in states across the nation,” Hochul said in a news release, adding that the law will ensure that more women will be able to access reproductive health care.
The measure – passed by the state legislature Tuesday – will block out-of-state litigation, prohibiting prosecution against doctors in New York who provide telehealth services, prescribe medication abortion, or deliver reproductive health care to patients living in states with restrictive abortion laws.
Telehealth medication abortions have accounted for an increasing share of total US abortions since last year’s Supreme Court ruling that established there is no constitutional right to abortion, CNN previously reported. Prior to the June 2022 ruling, medication abortions provided by virtual-only providers made up 4% of all abortions in April 2022 and 5% in May 2022, according to data from the Society of Family Planning. However, between June and December 2022, the share of such procedure grew from 6 to 11%. And as of 2020, more than half of US abortions were conducted using medication.
Assemblymember Karines Reyes, a registered nurse who sponsored the bill, said Tuesday she was “proud to sponsor this critical piece of legislation to fully protect abortion providers using telemedicine.”
Hochul previously signed legislation aimed at expanding reproductive rights. Last month, the governor signed a bill to ensure that every student at a State University of New York (SUNY) or City University of New York (CUNY) college will be able to access medication abortion, along with another bill that allows pharmacists across the state to dispense contraceptives over the counter.
The governor’s recent moves demonstrate the changing abortion landscape nationwide. As Democratic-led states aim to expand access, states with Republican majorities have enacted widespread restrictions, including near-total bans.
Last month, North Carolina’s Republican-controlled legislature overrode a veto by its Democratic governor to ban most abortions after 12 weeks.