NEW YORK (WABC) -- While some states are working to strengthen their laws against abortion should the Supreme Court overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling, New York Attorney General Letitia James has announced a fund to support the abortion rights of low-income New Yorkers as well as people coming from states that ban abortion.
Over the weekend, James issued a statement in support of amending the state constitution to ensure the right to abortion, and on Monday, she joined other lawmakers to announce new legislation to establish a state program that would provide financial resources to abortion providers in New York.
The Reproductive Freedom and Equity Program would provide funding for abortion providers and non-profit organizations to help increase access to care, funding for uncompensated and uninsured abortion care, and providing resources to support the needs of individuals accessing abortion care.
If Roe is tossed, 26 states are expected to immediately ban abortion. The Reproductive Freedom and Equity Program would support access to abortion for low-income New Yorkers and would also provide financial support for the influx of people coming to New York from other states that ban abortion.
As states have passed laws restricting access to abortion, the number of people traveling to New York for care has already grown.
According to the CDC, 9% of the abortion procedures performed in New York in 2019 were for people from out of state.
If Roe v. Wade is overturned, that number is likely to increase to more than 32,000 procedures a year from individuals traveling from only Ohio and Pennsylvania to New York, according to the Guttmacher Institute.
"Bans will not stop abortions," James said. "Bans will only stop safe abortions. No matter what happens in the weeks to come, New York will always fight to protect our right to make decisions about our own bodies and expand access to this critical and lifesaving care."
The legislation, if adopted, instructs the state health department to oversee the fund and distribute money to providers and nonprofits to help increase access to care, funding for uncompensated and uninsured abortion care, and providing resources to support the needs of individuals accessing abortion care.
"It is about health, it is about justice, and it is about dignity," said state Assembly member Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas, a sponsor of the legislation. "Tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of people are going to turn to New York for access to abortion care, and we have to be ready, willing and able to welcome everybody."
There are currently 22 states that have laws or constitutional amendments that already exist that would allow them to ban abortion if Roe is overturned or weakened. There are an additional four states that are likely to ban abortion in the absence of federal protections.
These 26 states are home to more than 40 million women of reproductive age.
"We know what happens when women are unable to control their own bodies and make their own choices and we will not go back to those dark times," James said. "New York must lead the fight to keep abortion safe and accessible for all who seek it."