NY’s Retaliation to Anti-Choice Politicians

Photo via Chuck Schumer on X

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On March 19, 2024, New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced the official passing, and signing, of a bill that would allow hormonal birth control to be sold over the counter in pharmacies across the state. The law permits three different kinds of birth control to be sold: traditional birth control pills, vaginal rings, and contraceptive patches. 

While New York is not the first state to implement such measures to protect access to birth control, it is still a tremendous step forward for New Yorkers.

The law comes in the wake of Dobbs v. Jackson’s Women Health Organization (2022), which was decided by the Supreme Court in June of 2022. The case held a 6-3 majority, with the six conservative justices on the bench voting in favor of Dobbs and the three liberal justices dissenting. 

This infamous case reversed a historic 1973 decision—Roe v. Wade—which protected a woman’s right to choose whether or not to have an abortion for at least the first three months of pregnancy. The case was regarded as a major win for pro-choice campaigns, and the abortion laws of 46 states were declared unconstitutional, forcing them to adhere to the Court’s decision. 

In the nearly 50 years after Roe v. Wade’s landmark decision, politics at both the state and federal levels have seen a dramatic increase in the prominence of debates for and against access to abortion. During the 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump campaigned on appointing a Supreme Court justice that would support overturning Roe v. Wade. Now, as he campaigns for the 2024 election, Trump has backed a 15 week abortion ban

Some politicians are even more severe in their views. In March of this year, the Republican Study Committee—representing 80% of Republicans in the House of Representatives—released a budget that not only endorses a national abortion ban, but also includes other extreme anti-choice legislation. This includes drastically reducing funding for contraceptives, putting IVF treatment at risk, and more. 

So, it’s clear why the New York state legislature would choose to pass a law protecting contraceptives and birth control at such a divided time in politics: the new legislation was passed in an effort to contradict the anti-choice measures that have been taken by other states and anti-choice rhetoric that has been vocalized on a national level. 

Part of the codification of birth control comes from a fear of the Supreme Court questioning the constitutional issue of this contraceptive method. The Roe v. Wade decision was based on the Ninth Amendment, in which the majority decision declared the implied right to privacy; a right that was first established by the ruling of Griswold v. Connecticut (1965). The 1965 case regarded the ban of contraceptives in the state.

With the Dobbs case overturning Roe v. Wade, the constitutional basis of both abortion and birth control is at risk. If  another Supreme Court case with birth control at issue were to arise, the precedent first set by Griswold v. Connecticut would no longer protect it. New York’s passing of the bill comes as a constructive measure to guard New Yorkers’ rights to access the birth control of their choosing, especially when there is no longer any  constitutional precedent for the matter.

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This article was edited by Renee Agostini and Nicole Kilada.