New York becomes first city to fund abortions directly
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New York City will budget $250,000 to pay for abortions for low-income women who travel from other states for the procedure, The New York Times reported.

The money will be allotted to the New York Abortion Access Fund, which pays for abortions for women not covered by insurance or Medicaid, City Councilwoman Carlina Rivera, a Democrat from Manhattan, and Jennifer Fermino, a spokeswoman for Council Speaker Corey Johnson, said.

Abortion activists have lauded the move, which is believed to be the first time a city has allocated money directly for abortion procedures, according to The New York Times.

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“There haven’t been that many city and state public officials to say we should publicly fund abortions. It’s a big statement,” Aziza Ahmed, a law professor at Northeastern University, told The New York Times. “This is a culture war to some degree."  

The money, which will be included in the city's 2020 budget, will pay for about 500 women to terminate their pregnancies.

The New York Abortion Access Fund has provided funds for women seeking the procedure since 2001, but this marks the first time the city has allocated money to the nonprofit. 

The organization has also paid for transportation costs, and funded nearly 600 abortions last year. It is estimated that one-third of the fund's payments go to support women who come from out of state seeking abortions in New York.

The news comes amid a wave of newly-passed abortion bans and restrictions in states across the country. Alabama passed the most restrictive abortion ban, which allows no exceptions for rape or incest, although it has not taken effect. Several states have passed laws that would effectively ban abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy.

In response, other states have taken steps to strengthen their abortion protections. In New York state, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) signed a bill that decriminalizes abortion and protects access to the procedure even if Roe v. Wade is overturned. And in Vermont, Gov. Phil Scott (R) signed a bill making abortion a “fundamental right.”