NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – New York has become the first city in the nation to turn down federal funds for family planning and preventive health services.
After greeting a group of doctors who work at city hospitals, Mayor de Blasio said he has decided to say no to federal aid for family planning and related health services for women because it allegedly comes with unacceptable strings attached.
A "gag rule" prevents doctors and nurses from counseling women about abortion.
"My message to women in New York City today is that we will protect you, we will protect your rights," de Blasio said.
The mayor said the city would replace the federal grants with $1.3 million in city tax dollars.
So the estimated 75,000 women who depend on city hospitals and clinics for information about contraceptives, reproductive health, and abortion counselling would continue to get help – on the dime of New York taxpayers.
This directive was sent to all city doctors and nurses instructing them to support patients on whatever pathway they choose, including referrals for safe legal abortions.
"We object to the dangerous policies that are restricting access to the full spectrum of reproductive health care across the country and will not allow the censoring of our doctors and nurses," the directive stated.
In addition to counseling, city hospitals and clinics do perform abortions.
"We do provide abortion services, we provide medical abortions in the first trimester. We're actually going up to 24 weeks. I am not prepared to tell you right now the exact number of terminations," Dr. Machelle Alen of NYC health and hospitals said.
"If you can't give women honest advice at a period where there's stress and decisions to be made… then you may not know where to get an abortion," deputy mayor Herminia Palacio said.
"If that's what you need you may not know what the risks are of an abortion because your physician hasn't been able to tell you."
The gag rule actually went into effect last week. City officials didn't announce their decision to circumvent it until Friday because the mayor was again out of town – this time at the presidential debate and a controversial appearance at a Miami union rally.
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