2017 NYS Legislative Agenda: Promote comprehensive reproductive health policies and age-appropriate sexual education

Promote comprehensive reproductive health policies and age-appropriate sexual education

Comprehensive Sexual Education.  While New York mandates health education for all students, there is no requirement for sex education. It is up to each local school district to decide whether to provide students additional sex education instruction and what that education might entail.  A sex education program can only be considered comprehensive when it is medically accurate, age-appropriate, free from bias, and includes information about contraception in addition to abstinence. A program that contains all of these elements is the most effective way to help young people learn relationship and decision-making skills, postpone intercourse, reduce their number of sexual partners, decrease their chance of facing an unintended pregnancy, and reduce their chance of contracting a sexually transmitted infection.  Comprehensive sex education is also an important tool in combating dating violence.  New York should establish an age-appropriate sex education grant program to ensure all school districts have the resources necessary for these important courses.

Access to Contraception.  The City Bar urges the Legislature to support legislation and policy initiatives to give oral contraceptives over-the-counter (“OTC”) status. Beyond the critical role that contraception plays in supporting women’s ability to participate equally in the social, political and economic life of our nation, there are sound scientific and medical bases for making oral contraceptives available without a prescription. The prescription requirement bars access to these medications for many women and puts those women at greater risk of unintended pregnancies and poor health outcomes. 

Reproductive Health.  New York should enact legislation that will uphold the principles of individual liberty and privacy enunciated in Roe v. Wade, 410 US 113 (1973).  Roe and its progeny recognize the importance of ensuring that women will be able to make reproductive decisions appropriate for their individual circumstances, in consultation with their doctors and without interference from the state.  The City Bar will continue our support of legislation which recognizes a woman’s fundamental right to make decisions regarding her reproductive health, and makes a clear affirmative statement that all New Yorkers have the right to use, or refuse, contraceptives and that all New York women have the right to carry a pregnancy to term or to terminate a pregnancy.