By Celina Tebor and Shawna Mizelle, CNN
New York Gov. Kathy Hochul on Tuesday signed two bills into law aimed at increasing access to medication abortion and over-the-counter contraceptives for New Yorkers.
The bills, which passed the New York state legislature earlier this year, “will make the difference between an unwanted pregnancy and a future where they can decide what they want to do,” the Democratic governor said Tuesday.
The first bill seeks to ensure every student enrolled in a State University of New York (SUNY) or City University of New York (CUNY) college will be able to access medication abortion.
Around 600,000 students are enrolled in the two school systems together, according to SUNY and CUNY.
“College-aged New Yorkers are more likely to inquire (about) abortion care than any other age group” in New York, Hochul said.
The second bill allows pharmacists across the state to dispense contraceptives over the counter. The legislation will increase birth control access for all New Yorkers, Hochul said, but especially those in rural areas, minorities or people living in what she described as “health care deserts.”
The New York Democrat’s actions come amid a surge of GOP-led efforts and legal disputes to restrict abortion procedures and medications across the country since the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in 2022.
In April, Republican Gov. Doug Burgum of North Dakota signed a near-total abortion ban bill into law and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a six-week abortion ban into law.
Florida’s six-week ban would not go into effect until the state Supreme Court overturns its previous precedent on abortion.
Hochul, however, joins a list of Democratic governors that have recently moved to enshrine abortion rights. Minnesota’s Democratic Gov. Tim Walz signed legislation last week that further protects the right to abortion and Democratic Gov. Jared Polis of Colorado signed similar legislation in April.
“As anti-choice extremists and judges continue to roll back abortion rights across the country, we are fighting back here in New York,” Hochul said. “I am proud to sign these landmark pieces of legislation that protect and expand access to abortion and reproductive health care. Under my watch, I will continue to ensure that New York remains a safe harbor for those in need of care.”
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