Cuomo tips his cap to Roe

Politics | New York governor issues new insurance requirements for contraceptive, abortion coverage
by Emily Belz
Posted 1/27/17, 02:49 pm

NEW YORK—Riding the wave of antipathy against President Donald Trump in the Empire state, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, announced new regulations requiring insurers to cover contraceptives and “medically necessary” abortions.

Cuomo said he made the announcement to coincide with the anniversary of Roe v. Wade and last week’s Women’s March.

“These regulatory actions will help ensure that whatever happens at the federal level, women in our state will have cost-free access to reproductive health care,” Cuomo said. He received praise from several abortion groups, including Planned Parenthood of New York.

Cuomo, who faces reelection next year, is one of a number of blue state governors already setting themselves as foils to the new Trump administration. Cuomo tried unsuccessfully to pass several measures in the state legislature during the last few years to expand the legality of abortion. When his efforts failed, state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman issued a legal notice green-lighting late-term abortions in the state.

For these new regulations, Cuomo argued he did not need legislative approval. Under New York insurance law, the executive branch has the power to “set the minimum standard for health insurance policies.”

The new abortion regulation gives an exemption to any religious groups that object to covering abortion based on their beliefs. But individual employees may add a rider to their plan at no cost that would cover abortions.

Edward Mechmann, director of public policy for the Catholic Archdiocese of New York, worries that without any language banning the mingling of costs, the objecting organization would de facto pay for such abortion riders as premiums increase.

The new contraceptive requirement, which would offer more coverage than current federal requirements, relies on an existing state exemption for religious groups, which only covers churches. Under New York law, religious groups qualify for an exemption if they employ and serve only members of their own faith, which excludes any groups that offer services to the public.

Catholic Charities—along with a Baptist church that had homeless services, a prison ministry, and a crisis pregnancy center—challenged the exemption in 2006 as too narrow. They lost in state court. The regulation requires coverage of all forms of contraceptives, which include abortifacient drugs like Plan B and Ella.

How can the state require contraception and abortion coverage from religious groups or business owners after the U.S. Supreme Court decisions in the Hobby Lobby and Little Sisters of the Poor cases? In this area, states play by their own rules. The Supreme Court cases were based on a federal statute, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). So those decisions apply to federal, not state regulations. If the Supreme Court had made a decision on constitutional grounds, it would have applied to all regulations. Some states have their own versions of RFRA, but New York does not.

Cuomo’s office did not return a request for comment on the narrowness of the religious exemption.

Gertrude Too-rom contributed to this report.

Emily Belz

Emily is a senior reporter for WORLD Magazine. She is a World Journalism Institute graduate and previously reported for the The New York Daily News, The Indianapolis Star, and Philanthropy magazine. Emily resides in New York City. Follow her on Twitter @emlybelz.

Read more from this writer


You must be a WORLD Member and logged in to the website to comment.
  • JerryM
    Posted: Fri, 01/27/2017 05:24 pm

    Will this may be another case where the loud minority overpowering the silent majority which would otherwise disagree with these actions? 

  •  notalemming's picture
    Posted: Sat, 01/28/2017 02:46 pm

    Not knowing the full extent of what state lawmakers go through, and whether the pro-life folks get involved, it seems to me that the average pro-lifer doesn't protest too much.  We hear a great deal about the pro-choice folks protesting any restrictions on their desire to snuff out life, to protect genocide, but what about the pro-life folks?  The average "joe" pro-lifer?  Either the news media ignors the fight that pro-lifers are involved in, or the pro-lifers are leaving it all up to the government to decide the fate of the unborn.  Government deciding who of the innocent will that sounds more like Hitler, Ms. Ashley Judd!  Who represents the unborn in the halls at Albany?  There are lobbyists for pharmaceuticals, car manufacturers, banks, gun rights, abortion advocates, etc.  Who is the Trey Gowdy of each state lobbying for the unborn?  Just how hard are the pro-life Congressmen working to make genocide obsolete?  Both at the federal level and state level?  Are we to believe that no one at the state level challenges Cuomo?  Surely someone in New York at the state level believes that genocide of the unborn is an abomination!!  But are they too afraid of losing their constituents and ultimately their jobs if they fight against abortion?  The fate we face at the throne of Jesus will be beyond our imaginations, all for the sake of what man thinks of us and the jobs we desire.  Better to go down in flames in this life, this side of Heaven, then to go down in flames in the eternal life, separated from the King of kings.      

  • hilltop5
    Posted: Sun, 01/29/2017 02:23 pm

    For sure the media ignores the fight that pro-lifers are involved in.  However, even though we don’t hear much about it, there are those in Albany fighting this evil.

    One organization that has been deeply involved and successful in keeping Cuomo’s extreme pro-abortion, pro-death agenda from getting approved is “New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms.”   They led the defeat of a previous attempt to make abortion a “human right” in New York State.  They are currently fighting a bill titled the “Reproductive Health Act (RHA)” another cleverly disguised abortion expansion proposal.  This passed the Assembly, but is not expected to get through the New York Senate.  You can visit their website ( for Republican and Democrat assembly members who spoke up against this bill and for life.

    It seems Cuomo is now attempting to push his agenda without the approval of the New York State governing bodies.  When we give individuals in our government the power to implement mandates with life and death consequences, and that erode religious freedoms, we all need to be concerned and speak up….as we continue to pray.