Deborah Glick, the State Assembly member who represents northern Battery Park City, Tribeca, SoHo, and the West Village in Albany, has issued a stinging condemnation of President Donald Trump’s decision to cut off federal funding for non-profits operating abroad that offer abortions.
This order compels such organizations to choose between continuing to offering safe abortion services in foreign countries (in which case they lose the subsidies that enable them to offer other women’s health services in the same nations), or discontinuing abortion services (in which case, multiple studies have shown, women in those nations will still seek to terminate pregnancies, but will often do so under unsafe conditions). It is worth noting that since 1973, federal law has explicitly banned such organizations from using United States government funding to perform abortions. This order goes a step further by cutting off funding for groups that pay for abortion services with other revenue sources. The measure is popularly known as a “gag order,” because it also prohibits these organizations from providing women with any information whatsoever about abortions, such as referring them to other safe providers of health services. The impact of such an order is expected to be significant, because the American aid is the largest single funder of family-planning services worldwide.
“The announcement from President Trump to reinstitute a ban on support for family planning and reproductive health is a death sentence for women and children,” Ms. Glick said. “The inability to control the size of one’s family means that more children will be born into poverty and more women will suffer serious health complications, potentially leaving existing children without a mother,” she continued. “These raw ideological policies ignore the realities of women’s lives and those of their families.”
“This policy is not only dangerous for women and families, but it exacerbates the economic dysfunction in these countries, thereby forcing more people to seek refuge outside of their home country,” Ms. Glick added. “This policy is not only counterproductive, but is mean-spirited and blind to the importance of the United States serving as a leader in ensuring healthy families and sustainable communities.”
She also observed that the timing of the announcement, coming just 24 hours after massive protest marches by women throughout the United States (and around the globe) objecting to the new president and his policies, “is obviously a thin-skinned reaction to an overwhelming call from women around the country and world for progressive policies particularly regarding reproductive health.”
Closer to home, Ms. Glick is the sponsor of the Reproductive Health Act, which passed the State Assembly last week. This measure seeks to protect access to abortion services by updating and clarifying New York statues about abortion that have gone unmodified since before the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision, Roe vs. Wade, which conferred constitutional protection on access to abortion. In the wake of its passage by the Assembly, the bill’s prospects in the Republican-dominated State Senate are unclear.
Ms. Glick was also the sponsor of the Women’s Health and Wellness Act, a 2003 law that promotes early detection and prevention of certain medical conditions affecting women, including breast cancer and osteoporosis, and provides coverage for contraceptives.
In a separate development, the fiercely independent Assembly member (who chairs that body’s Committee on Higher Education) is also questioning how Governor Andrew Cuomo intends to fund his recent proposal to make State University of New York enrollment free for families earning $125,000 per year or less. The program, which would apply to more than 80 percent of all public college students Statewide, is projected to cost more than $160 million per year.
“The cost estimate begs the question: if it costs so little, why haven’t we done it before?” she asked. “We have yet to see the details of how this proposal is paid for. Naturally, we have to ensure that both State University of New York and City University of New York have the capacity to continue to provide a quality education. This means that we need to ensure that they have adequate financial support. We have not provided as much operating support as we should have over the last number of years.”
“Making it possible for more New Yorkers to get a quality education without the burden of tuition is a good thing,” she continued. “It’s good for New York to have a more educated workforce and for future taxpayers to leave college with little or no debt. Our economy hasn’t grown as fast as it might have, in part, because of staggering student debt. It also means that students might make different career choices if debt is not a pressing concern.”
“Nonetheless,” she concluded, “this could be a win for all New Yorkers and I look forward to seeing the details as the Governor provides them.”