The city Department of Health and Mental Health, in a legal notice, said it intends to enter into a “sole source” contract with Nixon-Shane LLC/ R&S Northeast LLC., to buy 200 milligram mifepristone tablets — the abortion pill.
Mifepristone is used with another pill, misoprostol, to abort a pregnancy within the first 11 weeks of gestation.
In the public notice, the health department said it’s buying the abortion pill “to mitigate the threat to public health posed by the recent Supreme Court decision that overturned Roe vs Wade, which provided a constitutional right to abortion.” The nation’s high court ruling said states should determine legalization or restriction of abortion.
New York state had among the strongest abortion rights and access laws in the country even before Roe vs. Wade was struck down, with sweeping legislation approved in 2019. State lawmakers are now pushing for a constitutional amendment to protect abortion rights.
Mifepristone is not the same as the “morning after” pill, which is considered emergency contraception — and can have side effects.
“These are usually mild and last between a couple of days and two weeks. They can include cramping, spot bleeding and nausea/vomiting. If you are having more severe side effects, call your provider immediately,” the health department says in the “abortion hub” section on its website.
Opponents argue the city is looking to become an abortion tourist destination and pill mill as other states limit or ban abortion.
“Abortion is the killing of an innocent human life,” said Dennis Poust, executive director of the New York State Catholic Conference, which includes the Archdiocese of NY and Brooklyn-Queens Diocese.
“Abortion, unfortunately, is New York’s answer to everything concerning pregnancy. Abortion is promoted as a social good. Why won’t New York help pregnant women who wish to keep their babies bring them to term and escape poverty?”
State Conservative Party chairman Gerald Kassar fumed, “This is abortion tourism. New York has gone way too extreme on abortion.”
“We respect the sanctity of life. We believe life begins at conception and government funds should not be used for abortion,” he added.
City Hall defended stockpiling and providing medical abortion pills for women who want to terminate a pregnancy.
“Mayor Adams and the Health Department have made no secret of their commitment to reproductive rights,” the Health Department said in a statement. “With New York state’s abortion protections codified, our city launched into action in support of residents from other states whose freedom of choice was once again restricted after the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization ruling and doubled down on support for New Yorkers.”
The health department wouldn’t say how many abortion pills it’s buying to stock at its clinics — or how much the contract is for.
Adams signed a law passed by the City Council last year requiring the health department to offer federal medicine for medication abortions, at no cost to patients, at city-run health clinics, with $1 million made available to boost abortion access.
“I’m definitely supportive. Access to abortion is important,” said Upper West Siide Councilwoman Gale Brewer, a co-sponsor of the law to provide abortion pills at city clinics.
“Our city health clinics are a good place for patients that provide professional medical advice and counseling. The fact that the pills are being offer at the health clinics is a good thing.”
New York state had among the highest abortion rates in the country in 2020 among females 15 to 44 years old, with 110,0360 pregnancies terminated — 28.18 per 1,000, or double the national rate, according to a study by the Guttmacher Institute, a pro-choice group.
The city Health Department reported 49,784 abortions in 2019.
The city reported the number of medical or non-surgical abortions — via pills — jumped 51.7% from 2010 to 2019, to 8.8 per 1,000 females of child bearing age as the pills became more available.
By comparison, the number of surgical abortions plummeted 50.9% to 18.4 per 1,000 females of child rearing age, the health department report said.
Gov. Hochul is requiring that abortion pills be stocked at SUNY and CUNY campuses.
“Students at SUNY and CUNY deserve comprehensive access to reproductive health care, including abortion services,” Hochul’s 2023 State of the State policy book stated. “That is why Governor Hochul will ensure all public colleges and universities in the SUNY and CUNY systems either offer medication abortion in their college health centers or establish a relationship with a local reproductive health care provider to directly refer students to a trusted facility for abortion services, an approach that will improve students’ access to abortion while allowing institutions to meet their needs in the way that best fits their campus infrastructure.”