Planned Parenthood: Lawmakers should tackle abortion in special session

The ramifications of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade continue to be felt across the country and in New York.

Abortion rights and anti-abortion groups are trying to figure out what happens next. Both groups worry they could soon be the target of violence as the slow-burning issue boils over.

New York lawmakers could get involved during an extraordinary session that’s supposed to focus on gun control Thursday. Planned Parenthood is calling on them to take action on abortion as well.

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Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood is expecting an influx of patients when nearby states like Ohio ban abortion. They’re focusing their efforts on expanding abortion care and security for their clinics, with state funding they expect to come by the end of July.

Gov. Hochul has set aside $35 million for abortion providers in New York.

"We’re already seeing it at Planned Parenthoods and other providers across the country is that security is going to be important because the anti-choice folks have become really emboldened," said Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood CEO Chelly Hegan. "Being able to increase our abortion services right now because of the cash that the state is going to make available to us is really helpful."

Planned Parenthood is pushing the legislature to put abortion rights in the state constitution. The proposal must pass two different state legislatures before it can go to a vote. Thursday’s special session is their last hope to get the amendment on the ballot for the 2024 election.

Hegan applauded the New York State Legislature for making abortion rights part of state law in 2019, but said the group has called on lawmakers to go further without success.

"They say, ‘Oh, if it’s not broke don’t fix it.’ Well, it’s broke now. So we cannot as New York state women, and many other discriminated groups, we cannot expect to be treated as full citizens in other parts of this country, but we should be expected to be full citizens here at home," Hegan said.

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Meanwhile, CompassCare, which calls itself a pro-life pregnancy center, is expanding to a location in Albany right now. Its centers focus on moving women away from making the decision to have an abortion.

It’s working on marketing its services online to women coming to New York from conservative states to get an abortion.

"Our job is to give her all the support and security that she needs to give her a vision of her future after having had a child, that’s true choice," said President and CEO Reverend Jim Harden.

Harden says their centers are under threat, and need protection too.

"As far as we know, we’ve gotten zero allocation of additional state and federal law enforcement to protect pregnancy centers, even though we’re under threat," he said.

Harden says they’re also partnering with several lawmakers, including Congresswoman Claudia Tenney (R – New Hartford) on legislation to "create legislation for pro-life equal protection under the law."

NewsChannel 13 asked the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany for an interview. They declined, but gave us a statement saying the diocese is joining a nationwide effort called ‘Walking with Moms in Need.’

The diocese statement reads in full:

"The Supreme Court ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, is not the end goal for the Catholic Church. It’s a call to continuing action. We must walk with pregnant women in need, building a culture of life that helps them as they journey through pregnancy and into parenthood.

To that extent, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany is asking each of its parishes to join a nationwide effort called Walking with Moms in Need. Parishes are being asked to identify resources in their community that already exist, identify needs that are not yet being met, and to take steps to bridge those gaps. The goal is to create a process that enables Catholic parishes and communities to ‘walk in the shoes’ of these moms in need. We don’t point them in the direction of help, we journey with them.

The initiative is a response to Pope Francis’ challenge to go to the margins, to be present, and to make a difference. Each parish has gifts to offer, God-given gifts, but they are not for us to hang onto. Those gifts are to be shared and by the grace of God, used to help meet the needs in our communities."