New York City Named Among Best Cities in U.S. for Reproductive Freedom, New Report Finds

October 30, 2017
NIRH Contact: Stephanie Reichin | M: 617.549.3745 | E: [email protected]

National Institute for Reproductive Health President Andrea Miller Congratulated New York City Leaders for Protecting Women’s Rights and Advancing Reproductive Freedom in the Face of Federal Attacks

New York – The National Institute for Reproductive Health (NIRH) honored New York City leaders today for working to advance policies that protect access to reproductive rights. New York City ranked as one of the top three cities in the United States in NIRH’s Local Reproductive Freedom Index, a first-of-its-kind initiative evaluating the reproductive health, rights and justice policies of 40 U.S. cities.

“New York City is proud to be a national leader on reproductive freedom and honored to be recognized by the National Institute for Reproductive Health,” said New York City First Lady Chirlane McCray. “But our work to make reproductive health accessible to all New Yorkers is far from done. Women’s health is under unprecedented attack from President Trump and politicians in Washington—and there’s never been a more urgent time for cities to step up. Our success as a city depends on the success of our women.”

NIRH President Andrea Miller commended New York City’s efforts to advance reproductive freedom for city residents.

“As the federal government continues to attack and restrict women’s access to reproductive health care, New York City’s leadership is more important than ever,” said Andrea Miller, President of NIRH and the NIRH Action Fund. “New York City is our home base, and we’ve been proud to work hand-in-hand with the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the Mayor’s office, City Council, and a host of other agencies for years to pioneer new programs and policies advancing reproductive health, rights, and justice. Even more encouraging, New York City is not content to rest on its laurels; the city continues to push forward to improve comprehensive sexuality education implementation, reproductive health care for young people, access to abortion care, and so much more.”

Using 37 unique policy indicators, the Local Reproductive Freedom Index calculates how individual cities are protecting and advancing reproductive rights across a range of categories including access to abortion clinics, funding and coverage for reproductive health care, support for young people and families and advancement of inclusive policies.

NIRH’s Local Reproductive Freedom Index found New York City well equipped to protect and advance reproductive freedom for its residents thanks to its commitment to a full spectrum of reproductive health care programs. These programs and policies include the residency training initiative, which ensures that providers at city-run medical schools are trained in abortion care, city ordinances mitigating the deceitful and pernicious tactics of so-called crisis pregnancy centers and protecting safe access to abortion for women and providers, and the implementation of school-based health centers.

Because New York City achieved 4.5 out of 5 stars in the Local Index, there are still possibilities for improvement. Although New York has comprehensive sex education in public schools, the mandate could be stronger, with more funding and assurances for implementation in schools. Other opportunities lie in providing funding for abortion care within the city and banning facilities that do not provide comprehensive reproductive health care counseling and referrals, like crisis pregnancy centers, from receiving municipal funding.

“Access to reproductive health should be included in all basic health care, and no individual should be denied the right to health care,” said Public Advocate Letitia James. “New York City has long been a staunch defender and proponent of these rights, and no federal administration will ever change that. We will continue to do everything in our power to ensure that women in New York have access to the quality reproductive healthcare they deserve.”

“The Local Reproductive Freedom Index is an innovative and dynamic tool that will guide cities in how to support reproductive health for all,” said New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer. “As the Local Index makes clear, New York City leads the way in policies that allow individuals to control their reproductive and sexual freedom. But there is also more we as a city can do to improve, especially when it comes to implementing comprehensive sexual health education in our public schools. I want to thank the National Institute for Reproductive Health for championing this cause and look forward to working with them to help improve reproductive health for all New Yorkers.”

“As chair of the Committee on Women’s Issues and co-chair of the Women’s Caucus, I am proud of the groundbreaking work that we have done in the City Council to protect a woman’s right to choose and expand access to contraception, screenings, and counseling for people of all ages and backgrounds,” said Council Member Laurie A. Cumbo. “The unprecedented national rollback of reproductive medical care and coverage, under the Trump Administration, for millions of women is reckless and puts women in real danger of losing critical access to lifesaving services. New York, the birthplace of the Women’s Rights Movement, has always been at the forefront of advancing gender equity. Through the Local Reproductive Freedom Index, we can more readily identify the best policies and practices implemented across our nation that will serve as a blueprint to ensure every recourse is taken to protect equal access to preventative care — irrespective of the political climate.”

“I’m very pleased to learn that New York City scores well relative to the rest of the country on the National Institute for Reproductive Health’s Local Reproductive Freedom Index. This index is an important effort to assess reproductive health and rights policies in 40 American cities,” said Council Member Helen Rosenthal, who also co-chairs the Women’s Caucus. “All Americans should have the freedom and capacity to manage their reproductive and sexual lives in the way that best serves them and their families. This index supports that goal, providing a data baseline which can highlight possible reproductive healthcare models to follow and areas where improvement is needed.”

“The City and the Health Department are honored to have achieved the highest ranking in the National Institute of Reproductive Health’s report,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett.  “We are lucky to live in a state and city with a proud history of protecting reproductive health and the constitutional right to choose. We will continue to lead the way in protecting reproductive freedoms and making sure that all people — regardless of life circumstance, ethnicity or immigration status — have the resources to make informed choices about their reproductive health.”

Each of the 40 cities evaluated in the Local Index was ranked on a five-star scale. While no city received a perfect five-star score, San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York City came close with four-and-a-half stars out-of-five; the average star-rating was two stars out of five. While all three cities received four-and-half stars, San Francisco implemented the most policy solutions out of any other city in the country, putting it at the top of the list with New York and Los Angeles following close behind.

Advocates, policymakers and citizens can visit to see how their cities fare and to learn about specific actions they can take to influence positive community change.

For photos of today’s event, please click the following link.


About the National Institute for Reproductive Health

The National Institute for Reproductive Health builds power at the state and local level to change public policy, galvanize public support, and normalize women’s decisions about abortion and contraception.

Using a partnership model, we provide state and local advocates with strategic guidance, hands-on support, and funding to create national change from the ground up. We are a force multiplier – we form strategic partnerships with a wide range of organizations to directly impact the reproductive health and lives of women across the country. Since 2008, NIRH has provided direct grants and hands-on support to more than 145 reproductive health, rights, and justice organizations in 37 states and 50 localities across the country.

At the national level, NIRH engages in groundbreaking public opinion research, proactive policy initiatives, and innovative advocacy campaigns to shape a new national conversation about reproductive freedom.