Let’s Be Clear: Abortion is Legal in New York State

Every individual who becomes pregnant has the fundamental right to choose to carry the pregnancy to term, to give birth to a child, or to have an abortion…. The state shall not discriminate against, deny, or interfere with the exercise of these rights.

New York Public Health Law § 2599-AA

What are young New Yorkers hearing in these days since Roe v. Wade has been overturned? Given all the coverage about the end of abortion services, do youth know that abortion is still legal in New York State?

One thing you can do in the aftermath of this seismic shift is to make sure the young people you work with understand exactly what is going on. As sexual health educators, you’re no stranger to combating misinformation. Here is a Q&A to support your efforts.

What Happened? I thought they made abortion illegal!

On Friday, June 24, 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court withdrew its protection of abortion rights, turning the question of abortion legality over to the states. Now, state governments determine our rights. States have long been able to restrict abortion—for example, many states won’t let minors choose to have abortions unless they have parents’ permission. But now states are free to ban abortions entirely, and many are doing just that.

Fortunately, some states have acted to protect abortion rights—including New York.

What is the law in New York State?

Who can have an abortion in NYS?

In New York State abortion is legal, regardless of a person’s age, when it is performed “within twenty-four weeks from the commencement of pregnancy, or there is an absence of fetal viability, or the abortion is necessary to protect the patient’s life or health.”*  This means:

In New York State, abortion is legal for any reason up until 24 weeks after pregnancy begins.

The Details: Pregnancy begins when a fertilized egg reaches the blastocyst stage (about 5-6 days after fertilization) and is implanted in the uterus. This definition of pregnancy, which New York State follows, was developed by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and has been endorsed by many professional medical associations.**

Once they have been pregnant for 24 weeks, a person may have an abortion for either of these reasons:

  • The fetus has health or developmental conditions that mean it will not be able to survive (the fetus is not “viable”).
  • The person who is pregnant needs an abortion to protect their own life or health.

The Details: When deciding whether or not to provide an abortion at or after 24 weeks to protect a person’s health, a health care provider in New York considers physical, emotional, psychological, and familial factors, as well as the age of the patient.**

If I have an abortion, who will know about it?

Abortion services are confidential in New York State. No matter their age, young people who are capable of understanding the risks and benefits of abortion do not need to inform their parents or partners before having an abortion in New York State.***  While we encourage young people to talk with an adult they trust who can support them in their reproductive health decisions, no one in New York needs anyone else’s permission to get an abortion.

How can I pay for abortion services?

  • In New York State, Medicaid pays for abortion services for those who are eligible.***
  • Private insurance plans that are active in the NY State of Health exchange are required to pay for abortion services.***  
  • Those who are uninsured may be able to find help from abortion funds such as the New York Abortion Access Fund (Español) or other funds in the National Network of Abortion Funds.

Who can provide abortions?

In New York State, abortion services may be provided by certified health care practitioners working within their “lawful scope of practice,” including doctors, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and licensed midwives.****

How can I find a licensed provider?

Abortion Finder provides a directory of legitimate abortion services as well as more information about abortion rights in their state-by-state guide. It’s best to start at this link (or call the hotline below) rather than doing a simple Internet search because there are many “crisis pregnancy centers” advertising online that appear to offer help but do not offer medical services—they want to stop people from getting abortions.*****

Abortion Hotline: Attorney General Letitia James, law firms, and advocacy groups have launched a legal hotline to connect people looking for abortion resources with information. By calling 212-899-5567, patients can access information about their rights and where to go for care. Health care providers and people who are looking to provide abortion resource information to others can also call the hotline. Information is available in 12 languages.

Is a legal right the same as access?

No! For many reasons, young people may have a hard time obtaining abortions in a timely way. Access in New York will also become more difficult now that abortion is illegal in so many states. Demand in New York is going to increase exponentially, making it harder to find appointments.

Abortion Rights Are Under Threat

Let’s be clear about something else, too: Abortion will be legal in New York State unless and until Congress passes, and the president signs, a federal ban. There have already been bills introduced in Congress to ban abortion across the nation. Currently they are unlikely to pass, but this could change as new representatives are elected to Congress and the presidency.

As they learn more about the threat to their rights, young people may want to become involved in this issue. Nonprofit 501(c)3 organizations cannot become involved in electoral politics, but can certainly help youth build the skills to advocate effectively for their rights.****** The voices of young people are truly needed—and we can amplify those voices.

Thank You!

ACT for Youth sends our gratitude to all of you! We know you are doing everything you can to ensure that young people are educated and capable of caring for their sexual and reproductive health. You are on the frontlines of these changing times. Keep letting us know how we can support you.

* Reproductive Health Act, New York State Public Health Law Section 2599-bb. Abortion

** Commissioner Bassett Dear Provider letter, May 6, 2022

*** New York State: Safe Abortion Access for All

**** New York State Senate: FAQs about the Reproductive Health Act

***** NYC Health: Abortion. (See “Fake Clinics in Online Searches”)

****** Idealist: 9 Dos and Don’ts of Nonprofit Advocacy

Help me improve this piece! ACT for Youth will be putting information on our website and we want to make it as clear and informative as possible. Please share your ideas — What would you add or change? How are you communicating with young people about abortion? What resources would you share?

Irreplaceable

We rarely comment on current events, but the Buffalo murders at the hands of an 18-year-old white supremacist hit us hard. To our friends and colleagues in Buffalo, we share your grief and anger and offer our support.

The young shooter subscribed to the racist theory that white people, like him, are being replaced by those he considers “other.” Those who promote “replacement theory” want white people to be terrified by the demographic changes that are turning the US from majority white to a multi-hued people. Replacement theorists promote the idea that these changes constitute an existential threat, a loss of identity and white power. They feed their audience on entitlement, hate, and rage, as if a white person’s troubles somehow come from the BIPOC, Jewish, Muslim, immigrant, and LGBTQ+ communities, and not from policies and environments that deprive too many of us–many white people included–of what we need to thrive. The Buffalo shooter is not the first to act on this theory by picking up a gun.

ACT for Youth is a small but diverse group of 11 people. We are multi-racial and multi-ethnic, representing identities across the gender and sexual orientation spectrum, from diverse economic and religious backgrounds, and from families that span a wide range of liberal and conservative views. Our diversity is a strength we are still learning to wield. We are still awkward around the conversations that we need to have, not always knowing what to say, what to expect, or how to be with each other in the context of inequities and injustices, particularly as they relate to our varying identities. But we do know that our different life experiences and perspectives give us range and understandings to help us meet the world as it is. Our diversity is not just something to celebrate, it is at the heart of who we are as an organization that aims to make change. The more we learn to cultivate this strength, the more effective we will be.

In this world, we need everyone’s strengths and gifts. We are grateful to all of you for the work you do to support young people’s growth, thriving, and connectedness. We grieve for the lives stolen in Buffalo. Each of them, and each of us, is irreplaceable.

– The ACT for Youth Team

Making Evaluation Fun and Pleasurable!

EVALUATION. It can feel like a heavy word, one with a lot of judgement! But we all evaluate in our everyday lives, even though we don’t always call it that. Evaluation helps us make decisions, determine how well previous decisions are working out, and create data summaries we can share with others to demonstrate the success of our efforts.

The ACT for Youth evaluation team is launching a monthly web meeting all about evaluation. The goal of the series, “Making Evaluation Fun and Pleasurable,” is to demystify evaluation, build your knowledge about and capacity to conduct evaluations, and create a space to talk one-to-one or in small groups about your CAPP, PREP, or SRAE program evaluation.

The first part of each meeting (about 15 minutes) will focus on an evaluation-related topic or skill. The rest of the hour will be open for your questions and/or a time to talk with your TA/evaluation team about YOUR program’s data. Please join us! We’ll meet 11:00 – noon on the 2nd Thursday of each month, starting April 14.

~ Mandy

Amanda Purington

It’s All About Healthy Relationships

This is another in a series of posts highlighting resources that may be somewhat deeply buried on the ACT for Youth website!

Helping Young People Build Relationship Skills

The ACT for Youth website links to MANY resources for educators.

Helping Youth Build Relationship Skills
Newly updated, this part of Preparing Youth for Adulthood connects you with program activities and curricula focused on healthy relationship education, as well as resources for young people.

SEL Toolkit: Relationship Skills
In this section of the SEL Toolkit, we link to strategies and resources that will help youth work professionals teach relationship skills.

Teen Dating Violence
Here we offer resources focused on violence prevention and consent for educators, parents, and youth.

Promoting Healthy Relationship Skills
What can we do to help youth repair and strengthen the qualities of healthy relationships? Mary Maley took on this question in her June 2020 webinar for CAPP, PREP, and SRAE providers.

The Role of Romantic Relationships

Adolescent Romantic Relationships
Why are romantic relationships in adolescence developmentally important? We take a look at that question here.

Enjoy browsing!

~ Karen

What’s on the Website?

With over 150 pages and 235 catalogued publications and presentations, the ACT for Youth website has a wealth of resources—but they’re not always super obvious! This post is the start of a series to highlight ACT for Youth resources you might be interested in that may fall outside of the CAPP, PREP, and SRAE sections.

Today I’ll highlight two free training manuals that you’ll find in the Youth Work Professionals section.

Positive Youth Development 101 Manual

The PYD 101 training manual is ACT for Youth’s most popular resource. Use this free curriculum to provide an orientation to the PYD approach to new youth workers, supervisors, funders, and community volunteers.

Jutta updated the training just before her retirement, adding new resources and activities as well as sections on developmental relationships, inclusive program environments, and deconstructing biases.

The manual includes the facilitator script, slides, activities, and handouts – all freely available on the ACT for Youth website!

Inclusive Program Environments

Another training curriculum I’d like to feature is Creating Inclusive Program Environments for Youth with Different Abilities.

This training aims to provide youth work professionals with information, practices, and activities that will help them promote inclusion and engagement for all young people – particularly those with learning disabilities, ADHD, autism spectrum disorder, and/or trauma.

Again, the full curriculum, slides, handouts, and activities are easy to access on the ACT for Youth website. I hope you’ll explore it all!

These manuals are available to everyone in the field of youth work. If there is someone else in your organization who might benefit from them, please share.

Stay tuned for future “What’s on the Website” posts, and if you’re looking for something in particular on the site you can always contact me at ks548@cornell.edu.

~ Karen

What Did You and Your Colleagues Have to Say about the 2021 BWIAH Provider Meeting?

Thank you to all who completed evaluations for the 2021 BWIAH Provider Meeting! Here’s a snapshot of what CAPP, PREP, and SRAE folks thought about how it went overall, with some ACT for Youth perspective salted in here and there.

What are the best months for your group to attend the BWIAH provider meeting? (Check all that apply).

CAPP, PREP, and SRAE respondents indicated that the best months are May and July, closely followed by August.

  • This result was a bit different from the other providers that participate in the event. For everyone else, May has little competition.
  • In comments, a couple of people pointed out that it is difficult to have the event during the school year. Nevertheless, May continues to be the clear winner for the Provider Meeting. The ACT for Youth training team has taken note of the popularity of the summer months for professional development and may be able to shift some trainings to the summer next year.

Do you prefer a free virtual or an in-person meeting with a registration fee?

Interestingly, 40% of CAPP/PREP/SRAE respondents were neutral on this question, while 36% prefer a free virtual event and 25% prefer to gather in person. In comments, people were certainly torn, missing seeing everyone but appreciating the flexibility of the virtual event.

Overall organization and communication

While the Provider Meeting got high marks overall for its accessibility, clear instructions, advance notice, and registration, there were suggestions for improvements in structure and communication:

  • Schedule: Having the meeting spread out over 4 days was not entirely popular. Some folks also commented that an hour between sessions was too long. Given the comments, people seemed to want a more concentrated event (fewer days, maybe more sessions per day, with less time between sessions.)
  • Emails: There were a LOT! Many people felt they got too many emails. For some, emails went into junk folders. Lesson learned: have fewer reminder emails from the event service and be sure that a few key instructions come from ACT for Youth.

CAPP/PREP/SRAE provider group meeting with DOH program advisers

While 66% of participants found this meeting valuable, there were some suggestions for next time. Stating the purpose of the meeting up front would have been helpful. Some of you would have liked to hear more of an update from DOH on what is happening around the state, and some wanted more of a focus on program issues. In general the evaluations showed that people do want more contact with their DOH program advisers.

Overall Content

There were lots of nice comments about the content and presenters overall, such as “I loved the sessions that I attended and thought that the presenters were excellent.” Many people asked about recordings, and you can find everything that was recorded, along with slides, on the 2021 BWIAH Provider Meeting web page.

Of course, we can always improve!

  • Lack of content warnings was problematic in a number of the presentations. Considering our theme was trauma, that was not very trauma-informed!
  • A couple of commenters pointed out that we may have gone in too heavily on the theme—they would have appreciated a wider variety of topics.

Looking Ahead

Thank you again to everyone who completed the survey! Don’t see your opinion represented here? You can leave it in the comments—and remember to fill out the evaluation next year. We really do listen! Planning for next year is underway and we are using your feedback as a guide.

Karen Schantz

~ Karen

Join Us to Celebrate Jutta!

We still can’t believe we’re saying this, but please join us (via Zoom) on Wednesday, June 23, 12:00-12:30, to say farewell to Jutta!

Share a story! Share a memory! Wish her well as she embarks on her next adventure! Look for the Zoom link in your email.

Jutta has connected us all across New York State, bringing clarity, curiosity, humor, and deep knowledge to all she does. We don’t want to say goodbye but we do want to celebrate her amazing career and thank her for all she has shared with us.

We hope to see you Wednesday! You can also leave a comment on this post.

Best,

The ACT for Youth Team

Provider Spotlight: Video Productions for Youth, by Youth

The CAPP Team from Northwell Health LIJ/CCMC is proud to present our latest student-led videos. To reduce barriers to sexual health services, our project is lucky to partner with Connected Health Solutions to support students in creating their own PSA-style video for our school-based health centers. The project began in February 2020 and was cut short with school closures in March 2020. Once it was clear that NYC schools would mostly operate virtually, we made adjustments to the script and filming process to be virtual and safe for student actors and crew.

EC Video

For the film on Emergency Contraception (EC), our male students expressed their curiosity about EC and how it is used. It was important to our group to encourage male partners to take an active role in supporting their partners’ birth control choices – even if not completely informed, as in our video! And using humor is always a great way to get a message across!

Emergency Contraception video

Online Safety Video

For our longer middle school film, each student was filmed separately and cut together to look like one continuous screen capture. This was a new process not only for our students, but for our team and the director! The students were explicit about their desire to have a film that didn’t have a happy ending – they felt it would be inauthentic and cheesy. After the film “premiered” at the school assembly, our site educator, Anne van der Veer, played the video for every advisory class and facilitated a group discussion about being safe online. It prompted conversations about online learning, social media, sexting, and safety. Anne found that each grade took away a different lesson based on their age and maturity level – so we were happy to see the film was suitable for different ages.

I See You video

More Resources

We are so proud of our students’ contributions and are grateful for the support we received from the schools to complete this project. Please check out our library of videos on YouTube along with the two main videos above! If you are interested in the facilitation guide for “I See You,” please email Amanda Ferrandino (aferrandin@northwell.edu).

~ Amanda Ferrandino

Tips for Serving Healthy Food and Beverages

I want to call your attention to our recently revised Guidelines for Healthy Food and Beverages for Adolescent Health Programs, which ACT for Youth published for youth-serving providers funded by the New York State Department of Health.

Recipes, nutrition facts, and tips

Although over the past year we have not been able to gather for in-person events, hopefully that tide is changing! Soon we will once again be able to share meals and provide refreshments to program participants – making it a good time to review these guidelines and remind ourselves about the importance of nutrition, which is so integral to adolescent health. 

By making simple changes to the food and drinks we serve at programs, groups, and community events, we can impact young people’s health in positive and powerful ways. As a provider of youth services, you are in an ideal position to help young people improve their health by offering healthy food choices, raising awareness about nutrition, and engaging participants in menu planning and food preparation activities. This publication provides you with easy and practical ideas on how to accomplish these tasks, including factual information, recipes, money-saving tips, and implementation strategies. In the process, your program may help to support healthy eating habits and life skills that not only ensure proper growth during a critical development stage but will continue into adulthood.

We hope that by following these Guidelines, you can make a difference in the lives of our youth and in the generations to come.

Jane Powers

~ Jane Powers

Welcome Back to In-Person Programming: A Guide to Safe Return

As we look to reopen the doors to schools, community centers, and youth spaces to welcome youth back to in-person programming, we put a few resources together to help you plan and prepare for this experience. We recognize that every provider’s in-person programming space may look different and that ultimately you’ll be asked to follow the safety guidelines and protocols of your individual hosts. Still, we wanted to provide resources, helpful tips, and suggestions to help you remain as safe as possible and stay committed to delivering a quality program. 

As always you can start with our ACT site:

In-Person Implementation of EBPs during COVID-19

Please note that we looked to provide the most recent and up to date information, acknowledging that new safety guidelines could be added in the very near future. Where possible on the web resources below, please look for the date posted to ensure you’re flowing the most current information possible. 

CDC: How to Protect Yourself and Others

CDC: Schools and Child Care Programs: Plan, Prepare, and Respond

NYC Health: COVID-19: Guidance for Businesses and Schools

NYC Health: Checklist for In-Person Instruction

Marisol De Leon

~ Marisol