Jessica Ramos, Alessandra Biaggi and prochoice champions call for a special session to pass reproductive health act

As Justice Kennedy resignation threatens Roe v. Wade, Senate Republicans and IDC have repeatedly failed to protect reproductive freedom

***Watch press conference here***

NEW YORK – State Senate Democratic candidates Jessica Ramos and Alessandra Biaggi, #VOTEPROCHOICE co-founder Heidi Sieck, and New York's prochoice advocates today called for a special session to immediately pass the Reproductive Health Act in light of Justice Kennedy’s resignation from the Supreme Court. Standing together in Foley Square, they blasted Senate Republicans and Independent Democratic Conference members for repeatedly blocking passage of the Reproductive Health Act and putting women's lives at risk. 

"New York prides itself on being a bastion of reproductive freedom, yet State Senate Republicans and the Independent Democratic Conference have blocked the Reproductive Health Act for nearly a decade. Enough is enough," said Democratic State Senate Candidate Jessica Ramos.  "Women in this country, in this state, and in this city, are not safe. Our reproductive choices are not safe. We demand a special session to pass the Reproductive Health Act. We cannot wait any longer — we cannot wait until the Supreme Court ultimately reverses Roe v Wade.”

“I am in this race for many, many, many reasons. But what pushed me over the edge was after I was tasked with trying to pass the Reproductive Health Act in 2017 as an attorney in Governor Cuomo’s administration and got to work. Except when we got to the end of the legislative session, the bill not only didn’t come out of committee— but it died in assembly,” said Democratic State Senate Candidate Alessandra Biaggi. “It is embarrassing that you all can’t get it together to pass this bill. You owe it to us to pass this bill. It is your duty and obligation to keep the people of New York State safe and this is your chance. So don’t let us down.” 

"The state assembly has passed the RHA, but thanks to the Republicans and the turncoats in the IDC, this legislation has never come to the floor of the Senate for a vote. My State Senator has had seven years to pass this bill. Seven opportunities to bring it to the Senate floor. Instead, he sat back, shrugged his shoulders, and didn't pass a thing because he cares more about his lulus than about women in his district,” said Democratic State Senate Candidate Julie Goldberg.

"We have all these elected officials saying they’re prochoice, and we have a Governor saying he's prochoice — and getting great press because of it — but taking zero action to actually pass the Reproductive Health Act. The Independent Democratic Conference members are complicit in risking the health of women and transgender people and all of the families at New York. Our elected officials can do the right thing and take action right now. It is unconscionable that this hasn’t been done yet,” said #VOTEPROCHOICE co-founder Heidi Sieck.

"Because New York's own abortion law predates Roe, we will not have our protections if Roe is repealed. That's why we have been fighting to pass the Reproductive Health Act for years--and every year, Cuomo is talking out of both sides of his mouth. We've had enough. Cuomo needs to put the bite behind his bark and call a special session to pass the RHA and the CCCA. If the state legislature cannot protect the rights of women in this state, we will elect state officials who will,” said Amy Bettys of WHARR - Women’s Helath and Reproductive Rights.

"I terminated a pregnancy at 32 weeks when we found out that if I gave birth, the baby that would not be able to breath. We were shocked to learn that in New York State, such an abortion is in the criminal code. We had to leave the state and get on a plane to leave the state and fly across the country to get an abortion and mercifully end my pregnancy. Our representatives believe that they can ignore this problem because the people most affected suffer silently, intimated by shame and stigma. But there is no shame in calling out our representatives when they put politics before people. Despite what many in Albany seem to think, politics is not a game for most New Yorkers.So tell your reps in the New York State Senate and Governor Cuomo--we are tired of waiting,” said Erika Christensen of RHA Vote.

“We live in an era of Number 45 where there is no room anymore for lame Democrats who use rhetoric to say they're for one thing but their policies reflect something different. When you look at what is happening with legislation for the DREAM act and for better public education and affordable housing in the state senate, you can see that there is a pattern. A pattern of the IDC leaving the people's agenda on the floor and carrying the agenda of corporations and big money. We have zero tolerance for elected officials who stand behind the word democrat but have no democratic values,” said Zakiyah Ansari of the Alliance for Quality Education.

The Reproductive Health Act will codify existing legal and constitutional requirements and protect New Yorker’s right to choose in case of an appeal to Roe V. Wade. A strong conservative majority in the Supreme Court threatens a repeal of Roe V. Wade in the near future. 

Alessandra Biaggi