With access to safe and legal abortions hanging in the balance for countless Americans, Planned Parenthood’s New York chapter quickly condemned the court’s ruling, and leaders laid out their plans to expand and enhance abortion services after the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade on Friday.
“This decision is as cruel as it is dangerous,” said Joy Calloway, interim president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Greater New York, during a virtual press conference June 24. “Banning abortion does not take away a person’s need to access abortion care and services, and we know what the consequences of this decision will be, and who will be most affected because we have already seen the devastating impact of abortion bands as they played out in states across the country.”
The court’s “wrongful ruling,” Calloway said, especially fails people with low incomes who can’t afford access to fundamental health care or travel to get it.
To get ahead of the ruling — which was historically leaked by Politico in May — Planned Parenthood of Greater New York has already taken steps to increase abortion, appointment, availability at all 23 of its health centers, Calloway said, “to meet both the existing and the growing demand for sexual reproductive health care and abortion services.”
“The this move will allow us to decrease appointment wait times and maximize our resources to serve more patients in more areas across our state,” she said.
The New York chapter of the organization is also designating an “abortion patient navigator” to assist people who will need to travel to New York for an abortion, specifically from states like Mississippi, Texas and Oklahoma.
The navigator, Calloway said, will help facilitate travel and lodging for those seeking a safe and legal abortion, and work to secure funding on behalf of patients in partnership with established abortion access funds.
Planned Parenthood of Greater New York is also expanding services like telehealth to give patients in early stages of pregnancy the option to self-manage their health care with guidance from expert clinicians.
“No one should have to travel from Mississippi to Manhattan to access safe legal abortion to access basic healthcare,” said Dr. Gillian Dean, chief medical officer at Planned Parenthood of Greater New York. “Our highest priority is your health and well-being and we’ll keep fighting to ensure that you have the right to make your own personal medical decisions and get safe legal abortion care no matter where you live because planned parenthood stands for care.”
“Above all, know this, though abortion is health care, and you still have a legal right to safe and legal abortion care here in the great State of New York,” Calloway added. “We firmly believe, when it comes to your body, your life, your future, and your personal decision are the only ones that should matter.”
New York legalized abortion in 1970, before the case came before the Court, and codified Roe’s protections into state law in 2019 with the Reproductive Health Act, ensuring abortion would remain legal even if the decision was overturned. The law also legalized abortion past 24 weeks of pregnancy if the mother’s health was in jeopardy, and allows “advanced practice clinicians,” like nurse practitioners and physicians assistants, to perform abortions.
The Court voted 6-3 to strike down the landmark 1973 decision as well as the 1992 follow-up Planned Parenthood v. Casey, with all of the conservative justices joining the majority. Justice Samuel Alito, the author of the majority opinion, said the original Roe decision was “egregiously wrong” and compared it to the infamous 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson, which established the “separate but equal” doctrine underpinning Jim Crow.
“We are thankfully in a state that has codified the right to abortion care services,” Calloway said on Friday’s call, noting that she expects Americans to be “more fired up today than they’ve been before.”
In terms of funding — which, federally, may be limited with the unraveling of Roe v. Wade — Calloway hopes that that fire will help fuel donations to organizations like Planned Parenthood, and others who work to provide access to safe abortions across the country.
She also said that Governor Kathy Hochul, who vowed Friday to help protect the state’s abortion rights, is in the process of releasing a “a substantial amount of funding to abortion care providers and Planned Parenthood Greater New York is one of those receiving those funds.”
“There’s no place where I expect in our state funding to be cut for essential health care that is abortion,” Calloway said.
The work done by Planned Parenthoods across the country is crucial to patients like Athena, who spoke on Friday’s call in support of safe and legal abortion access.
“When when we talk about abortion, we’re never really talking about abortion,” she told attendees. “Even my abortion story isn’t about my abortion. It’s about how politically motivated restrictions limit who has control over their own body personal health, decisions and future there’s no such thing as extreme abortion restrictions, because all restrictions to essential abortion care are extreme.”
Pro-choice New Yorkers are set to take to the streets Friday night in protest of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. Following the Politico leak in May, thousands of protesters descended on Foley Square in Manhattan and the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
As state leaders across the country navigate next steps, those who work at organizations like Planned Parenthood say one priority remains: their patients, current and future.
“Our number one priority today is just community, patient care and reassurance,” said a Planned Parenthood staffer who was handing out safe sex kits near the organization’s Downtown Brooklyn location.
The staffer, who requested anonymity, wants people to know that Planned Parenthood is there for them.
“Abortion is still legal and accessible in New York. It is safe to get an abortion here, it is fully legal to get an abortion here and it’s accessible,” she said. “We want to make sure that everyone in the community knows that Planned Parenthood is present, that our reproductive rights and justice organizations are still working hard to reassure bodily autonomy.”