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?

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

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

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

ACT in Transition

I’m writing to let you know about transitions that will be happening during this year.  Jutta Dotterweich, our long-term Director of Training and TA, will be retiring in June 2021.  Jutta has been with ACT for Youth since it began in July of 2000 and has built our training program.  She has been an extraordinary leader of our training/TA efforts – whose vast knowledge of positive youth development, and vision for how best to build capacity to promote adolescent health and prevent risky behaviors, has been appreciated by generations of youth workers, educators and colleagues across NYS and beyond.  To say she will be missed is an understatement!

As we move forward during this transition period, some of Jutta’s responsibilities will be passed on to Mary Maley. An experienced trainer with expertise in evidence-based programming, Mary has been with ACT for Youth since 2011, most recently leading our CDC-funded research. Mary will provide research support for developing training and web resources, cover Jutta’s caseload of provider assignments and take on additional training responsibilities as needed. She will join Heather, Michele and Marisol on the training/TA team.

We will miss Jutta but rest assured you  will continue to receive our expertise and support in meeting your goals and needs.

Jane Powers

~ Jane Powers, Director

Moving to Virtual Implementation of EBPs?

In recent months we have talked a lot about virtual implementation of evidence-based programs. Re-opening plans for schools and community-based youth organizations have been varied and challenging. Conditions have changed frequently and at times abruptly.

To address these complexities, and with fidelity and quality delivery of EBPs in mind, we have developed implementation strategies and tools that will help you plan and prepare for a successful virtual implementation.

Steps to consider

  1. Investigate what the implementation conditions are at the implementation site – use the preparation checklist to plan and prepare for virtual or hybrid implementation.
  1. Use the EBP templates to develop your virtual presentation. These templates are newly updated. Find the templates for each synchronous module, and information about how to access and use the asynchronous templates, here:

BPBR Virtual Implementation

MPC Virtual Implementation

  1. Complete the virtual implementation plan to document how you modify the program and adapt to specific site conditions. You may have to do a different plan for each site.
  1. Send the virtual implementation plan to your ACT TA provider for review and discussion.

  1. Once approved, you can start implementing and refer to the virtual implementation plan when you enter cycle data into the ORS.

Virtual presentations are quite different from in-person presentations.

In our recent virtual presentations skills workshops we identified and discussed lots of potential technical and personal delivery issues. We highly recommend that presenters prepare thoroughly and practice.  Consider building in time for an extra introductory session with young people to do warm-up or team-building activities and practice the interactive features of the platform you are using. Young people may not be familiar with some of these features. Interacting and communicating via technology may take more time than you may expect. We recommend adding 2-3 extra sessions to your EBP implementation schedule.

Here are two additional tools to help you plan and prepare:

Let us know if you have any questions.

~ Jutta

Regional Provider Meetings

We are changing it up!

Over the past months many of you have participated in various work groups and ACT virtual training events and explored online platforms and material. As we are all learning, to stay alert and engaged online you have to change things up–so that’s what we’re going to do!

In October we will be hosting regional provider meetings. This idea actually came from you. In recent weeks several providers suggested organizing virtual regional provider meetings. ACT will host the meetings but the agenda and discussion will be set by you. This will be an opportunity to discuss outreach efforts, implementation challenges, and working with schools and community-based organizations in this new era of COVID-19. And you can talk about specific regional issues that impact your work. You can share successes, resources, and challenges and engage in joint problem solving.

Participation is voluntary. CAPP, PREP, and SRAE educators and supervisors are welcome. We have divided upstate into three groups and downstate into five groups (see regional provider meeting groups document below), although if you feel a stronger affinity with another region (especially upstate) you are free to join another provider meeting.

We scheduled all provider meetings on Fridays. The reading club will be on hold for the month. Let’s see how this works. After the first round the regional groups may decide on different times and days.

Start-up will be October 9!

Jutta Dotterweich

~ Jutta

Introducing Work Groups and Reading Club

Since we are all working from home and much of our regular work is suspended for the time being, we have a rare opportunity for professional development and collaborative work. So at the all-provider learning community meeting this past Tuesday, the TA Team introduced new vehicles for moving forward: online work groups and a book/article club.

In the learning community meeting Heather also went over basics for Zoom meetings from the perspective of participants (00:53 – 08:07) and Michele reported on the results of last week’s survey (08:44 – 22:34). Here is the recording, and here are the PDF slides – you’ll also find them on the Webinars page.

What are Work Groups?

The goal of work groups is to collaboratively develop youth-friendly materials on specific topics: STI/HIV prevention, pregnancy prevention, and healthy relationships (for starters)–and we plan to add a group on social media outreach soon. Using best practices in online learning, we’ll work together to develop resources that:

  • Teachers can use now in online learning platforms
  • Providers can use in component 2 virtual sessions with young people
  • Providers can use for outreach to youth and parents
  • Providers can use in summer programming

Work groups will meet weekly with an ACT for Youth trainer facilitating. Participants will work on projects in between sessions and present their work the following week.

To keep the work groups a manageable size, pick your favorite topic—please don’t sign up for all of them. Agency staff might want to spread out among the groups rather than all signing on to the same group. You can register for group meetings directly from the training calendar.

These work groups are voluntary, but we hope you’ll actively join in! If we can judge by the chat response at our recent meeting, folks seem enthusiastic about taking this on.

What is the Reading Club?

On Fridays we would like to introduce a new professional development opportunity: a book/article discussion group open to CAPP, PREP, and SRAE. We’ll send articles around and facilitate a discussion on the readings. We won’t present on or review the material—we ask you to read the articles first, then we’ll use our time on Friday to discuss how it applies to our work. If you have an article you’d like to share, please let us know! Check back here for links to the first readings.

– The TA Team