On one hand, where some states like Alabama and Georgia are imposing the most restrictive abortion bills into law, New York City Officials in response has recently set aside $250,000. This fund is to help women who travel from other states to obtain abortions in the city. An action that acknowledges the broader national debate over access to abortion, says Aziza Ahmed, a Northeastern University law professor who studies health law.
This year legislators in nine states have passed laws that restrict access to abortions for their residents. The New York City funding, which was allocated specifically for people traveling to the city for an abortion who couldn’t otherwise afford one, is a response to such legislation. Ahmed says It’s not the first time a city or state government agency has used its own funding to provide access to abortions. The Hyde Amendment, implemented in 1977, forbids the use of federal funds for abortions except in cases of rape or incest, or when the pregnancy endangers the mother’s life.
“If you’re a poor woman in a state like Alabama, you’re going to encounter numerous barriers when you attempt to get an abortion in your state,” Ahmed says. “This policy in New York City acknowledges that women will likely travel out of state, including to New York City, to have an abortion. [City officials] are connecting to our national conversation about abortion.”
States must cover the cost of abortions, in the situations that are exempted from the federal funding ban, for women who wouldn’t be able to afford them on their own. Most of the time, states do that with money from Medicaid programs. Fifteen states (including New York) have a policy that goes above and beyond the exceptions outlined in the Hyde Amendment. These policies direct Medicaid to pay for abortions that are considered medically necessary for other reasons.
New York City funding is unique as it was created in response to states, such as Alabama, that have passed legislation that would restrict access to abortions.