New York City public hospitals to offer abortion care via telehealth

New York City public hospitals will now offer abortion care via telehealth, placing them among the first public health systems in the US to do so.

The city’s mayor, Eric Adams, announced on Monday that abortion pill prescriptions would now be available by telephone or online, adding that such access can happen from “the comfort of your home”.

As a result of the move, New York City residents will now be able to connect with health practitioners for those prescriptions, building on previous legislations to protect abortions rights in New York.

“If you are clinically eligible, that provider will be able to prescribe abortion medication that would be delivered to your New York City address within days,” Adams said during Monday’s announcement.

“We will not stand idly by as these attacks continue and the far-rights seeks to strip our citizens of their basic rights,” Adams added, referring to abortion restrictions being legislated across the country.

Abortion rights organizations celebrated Monday’s announcement as an essential step to protect reproductive rights.

“Today marks a historic win for abortion access in New York City,” said Wendy Stark, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Greater New York.

“When we make abortion care more accessible, we empower individuals to make the best decisions for themselves, their families and their futures,” Stark added.

The expanded access to abortion care comes after the supreme court’s elimination last year of the federal abortion rights established by Roe v Wade.

Since then, at least 20 states have passed restrictions on abortions, the New York Times reports.

Fourteen states, mainly in the south, have enacted total bans on the medical procedure.

US courts have also limited access to abortion medication. In August, a US appeals court ruled that the abortion pill mifepristone should be regulated according to rules set prior to 2016.

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In August 2022, Adams signed legislation protecting the right to abortions in New York City after the supreme court’s decision to overturn Roe v Wade.

The measures signed by Adams – six in total – also made abortion medication free at all of New York’s department of health and mental hygiene clinics.

The New York state legislature has also passed legislation protecting medical professionals in the state who provide abortion pills to patients in places where the procedure is banned, the New York Times reported.

Other Democratic-led cities and states have passed similar measures protecting reproductive rights.

In January, the governor of Illinois, JB Pritzker, signed legislation expanding abortion access by allowing more practitioners to provide the medical procedure and mandating that agencies in the state cover the procedure, the television news outlet WTTW reported.