Everything You Need to Know About Your Right to Abortion in New York State

Abortion Clinic in Western NY

Access to safe and confidential abortion services is an essential aspect of women’s healthcare. While on an individual level not everyone will agree with this fact, the federal government declared it as law in the 1973 landmark case of Roe v. Wade. With this ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed that access to safe and legal abortion is a constitutional right of every woman in the country.

Unfortunately, Roe v. Wade does not prevent individual states from imposing certain restrictions and mandates on abortion services. Differences in abortion law between states can make the process confusing and difficult for women who are considering pregnancy termination.

If you live in New York State, this is what you need to know about your right to abortion:

You can have an abortion for any reason within the first 24 weeks of pregnancy.

This is a right guaranteed to all women in the United States by Roe v. Wade. The reason a timeframe of 24 weeks is specified is because, at the time of the ruling, medical technology determined 24 weeks to be the earliest point of fetal viability. Viability is the ability of a fetus to survive outside of the mother. After this point, abortion is subject to state regulation.

In New York, you can get an abortion after 24 weeks if the pregnancy threatens your health or if the fetus is not viable.

In January of 2019, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Reproductive Health Act into law. The RHA states that abortion after 24 weeks is permitted in instances in which the fetus is no longer viable. This new exception was enacted in addition to the already-in-place exception of abortions after 24 weeks if the life of the mother is in danger. The act also effectively decriminalizes abortions, codifying Roe v. Wade into state law.

Additionally, the Reproductive Health Act made abortion more accessible to women by expanding qualified providers to include advanced practice clinicians. This means that in addition to licensed physicians, healthcare professionals like physician’s assistants, nurse practitioners, and licensed midwives are allowed to perform abortions too.

Before 24 weeks, YOU are the only one who must consent to your abortion.

After 24 weeks, a healthcare provider must also deem an abortion medically necessary or the fetus unviable. But other than in that circumstance, nobody has to give you permission to have an abortion. Your husband/boyfriend/father of the fetus does not need to consent to your abortion or even be notified. Similarly, if you are a minor, you do not need parental consent for an abortion. New York State also does not mandate any type of counseling or waiting period prior to the procedure.

Abortion services in New York must be completely confidential.

Abortion providers and other healthcare professionals are not allowed to disclose any information to anyone other than you without your consent. This includes your medical records, as well as any information about your appointment or procedure. Again, this applies to the father of the fetus, parents in the case of minors, and anyone else who you have not identified as allowed to receive information about your abortion.

If you have private health insurance in NYS, medically-necessary abortion costs will be covered.

All private health insurance policies in the state must cover abortion expenses when the procedure is deemed medically necessary by a healthcare provider. “Medically necessary” in New York is defined as “necessary to prevent, diagnose, correct, or cure conditions in the person that cause acute suffering, endanger life, result in illness or infirmity, interfere with a person’s capacity for normal activity, or threaten some significant handicap”. Medicaid in New York also covers the costs of medically necessary abortions (using state, not federal funds).

Whether or not an abortion qualifies as medically necessary is up to the discretion of the provider. Except in the case of a high-deductible plan, insurers must cover the procedure without any cost-sharing. If you are uninsured or otherwise in a situation in which your abortion costs are not covered in NY, there are resources available to help you.

At South Avenue Women’s Services, we are dedicated to providing the confidential and compassionate reproductive health services to which every woman has a right. Our clinic in Rochester offers medical and surgical abortion services to women throughout New York State. We will answer your every question and walk you through your abortion step-by-step, so that you feel confident and supported in your choice and prepared for your procedure.

For more information about our elective abortion services, contact one of our medical professionals today!