NYS Legislative Agenda: Promote Comprehensive Reproductive Health Policies and Sexual Education

Promote Comprehensive Reproductive Health Policies and 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 confronting and avoiding sexual harassment, sexual assault and teen 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. First approved by the FDA over 50 years ago, contraception has transformed the cultural landscape in the United States. By providing women the tools and agency to determine whether and when to have children, contraception has been a catalyst for women’s equal participation in our political and educational institutions as well as the paid workforce. While the State has taken great strides to increase access to contraception in recent years, the City Bar urges the Legislature to close current coverage gaps by: (1) requiring insurers to cover any contraception that a health care provider recommends for a woman without a co-payment, (2) providing that women can access 12 months of contraception at one time (which reduces the likelihood of an unintended pregnancy), and (3) fully including and covering emergency contraception.

Reproductive Health Act. 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 are 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.

Maternal Mortality Review Board. The United States experiences a disproportionately high rate of maternal mortality, with New York ranked 30th among the states in maternal death rate. Poor women and women of color are victims of maternal mortality at far higher rates than are their affluent and white counterparts. The City Bar supports establishing a Maternal Mortality Review Board which would review maternal mortality, analyze their causes and disseminate strategies for reducing the risks of maternal mortality. This board is necessary both as a means to improve health outcomes for New York’s female population and to rectify the economic and racial disparities in those outcomes. It is critical that such a board be created using the national best practices on maternal mortality reviews that have already been established across the country and that it operate with strong confidentiality protections.


Access to Contraception – Comprehensive Contraception Coverage Act signed by the Governor, Chp. 25 (April 12, 2019)

Reproductive Health Act – Signed by the Governor, Chp. 1 (January 22, 2019)

Maternal Mortality Review Board – Signed by the Governor, Chp. 140 (August 1, 2019)