Protesters Tuesday in front of the Nassau County Courthouse in Mineola...

Protesters Tuesday in front of the Nassau County Courthouse in Mineola after the leak of a Supreme Court draft opinion striking down Roe v. Wade.  Credit: Newsday/Thomas A. Ferrara

New York State could see a “surge” of abortion patients from the Deep South and Midwest, where access to the procedure is likely to be outlawed or curtailed if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, providers and advocates said Wednesday.

Already operating as a “safe haven” for people from out-of-state seeking an abortion, New York could see that role grow following the leak of a draft opinion Monday striking down American’s legal right to terminate a pregnancy.

In a statement Tuesday, the Supreme Court confirmed the authenticity of the leaked draft and said "it does not represent a decision by the Court or the final position of any member on the issues in the case.”

Even so, the unprecedented leak of a Supreme Court draft opinion set off elation and anger across Long Island and the rest of New York as well as nationwide.

“No one should have to travel from Houston, Texas to a health center on Houston Street or Hempstead to access what is essential health care,” said Jacquelyn Marrero, spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood of Greater New York, which has locations across Long Island.

At least 13 states have trigger laws that will immediately prohibit abortion access if Roe is struck down, including Texas, Kentucky and Louisiana. More than a dozen other states could curtail abortions to 22 weeks or earlier, including, potentially, Ohio, North Carolina and Florida, experts said.

With more states restricting access, the proportion of out-of-state abortions in New York has tripled since 2012, from about 3% to 9%, the data shows.

In 2019, New York conducted 6,989 abortions on out-of-state patients, second only to Illinois with 7,534, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The number of out-of-state abortions could increase further in the coming months if the Supreme Court strikes down the landmark 1973 ruling, Marrero said.

Planned Parenthood, she said, has been preparing for the surge, even before the Supreme Court opinion leaked, by hiring additional clinicians, expanding walk-in centers and allowing patients to book appointments online.

“While the [leak] … was a punch to the gut, the outcome was expected,” Marrero said. “It was not surprising. Everything that we do has prepared us for this moment, so I don't expect to see a change in quality of care.”

Other advocates were more skeptical.

Overturning Roe will have “cascading” effects on residents across the state, said Katharine Bodde, assistant policy director of the New York Civil Liberties Union.

“The conversation has really been focused on patients coming to New York,” Bodde said. “But as care demands increase, patients in our state will be affected. Patients in our state already need to wait to get the care that they need.”

The NYCLU, along with other advocacy groups, released an Abortion Access Roadmap Wednesday, detailing actions state lawmakers can take to expand and protect reproductive rights.

They include providing financial support to Americans traveling to New York seeking an abortion; increasing funding for providers and nonprofits while protecting them from the threat of litigation, and enshrining access to abortions in the State Constitution.

The National Institute for Reproductive Health lobbied state lawmakers in Albany Tuesday for a "Reproductive Freedom and Equity Fund" that would give grants to abortion providers and residents traveling to New York seeking to terminate a pregnancy, said Andrea Miller, president of the Manhattan-based group.

Gov. Kathy Hochul speaks Tuesday at a Planned Parenthood rally outside...

Gov. Kathy Hochul speaks Tuesday at a Planned Parenthood rally outside the State Capitol in Albany. Credit: Mike Groll/Office of Governor Ka/Mike Groll

Currently, the Oregon-based National Network of Abortion Funds and its member group in New York help arrange and fund confidential, personalized travel for women to safe haven states from areas restricting abortion access. 

An influx of out-of-state women could stretch the budgets of groups such as Public Health Solutions, New York City’s largest public health nonprofit that serves low-income residents, and which saw a cut of 47% in its federal Title X health funds this year. 

“We are anticipating that there will be increased demand for sexual and reproductive health care in a post-Roe New York,” said Zachariah Hennessey, executive vice president and chief strategy officer at Public Health Solutions.

“ … The system to provide those services and care is already strained and under duress," he said.

Others said that since the landscape over reproductive rights is changing, New York must do the same.

“We need to expand the services that we currently have,” said Shanequa Levin, of Huntington Station, founder of the Women’s Diversity Network, a Long Island nonprofit that advocates for reproductive rights.

“Having an influx of people coming here makes it more challenging for people to receive abortion services,” Levin said.

New York, Hawaii, Alaska and Washington became the first states to repeal anti-abortion statutes in 1970 — three years before Roe. But New York was the only one that did not require some form of residency for women seeking abortions. 

In 1972, just over 100,000 people left their states to obtain a legal abortion in New York City, according to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit research and policy group focused on reproductive health. 

The institute estimated that 50,000 traveled more than 500 miles to obtain a legal abortion in the city; nearly 7,000 went more than 1,000 miles, and about 250 traveled more than 2,000 miles, from as far as Arizona and Nevada. 

New York codified Roe protections into state law in 2019. Other bills preserve abortion rights for women from across the country seeking abortions here.

But these laws could eventually be nullified by the Supreme Court — currently with six conservative and three liberal justices — or a Republican-led Congress that passes bills superseding state laws, said state Sen. Liz Krueger (D-Manhattan).

“It’s like a bad science fiction movie,” Krueger said. “We could see refugees coming to New York state for health care … You could just see a Wild West scene where people are demanding bounties and carrying people off.”

Krueger is co-sponsoring bills that would protect New York abortion providers who help women from other states or prescribe FDA-approved abortion pills in the mail. The measures also seek to block law enforcement from enforcing other states’ abortion laws, and thwart a Texas law that provides $10,000 to individuals who successfully sue abortion providers.

Other legislation under consideration would require SUNY schools to offer abortion by medication at all campus health centers; mandate every hospital with a maternity ward provide abortion services, and create a checkoff on income tax returns for New Yorkers to voluntarily fund abortion efforts.

In total, Democratic majorities in the Senate and Assembly, along with Gov. Kathy Hochul, are considering more than 20 bills to protect abortion rights. Floor votes on at least some bills are expected before the scheduled end of the session on June 2.

“We will do everything we can in New York State … against the movement to make abortion illegal again in the United States,” said Assemb. Charles Lavine (D-Glen Cove). “The damage done by the Trump Supreme Court is just beginning.”

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