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Know Your Legal Rights

Your right to access abortion is protected by federal and state laws.

The New York State Patients’ Bill of Rights secures your rights to:

  • Understand your diagnosis, participate in decisions regarding your treatment options, and give informed consent for any proposed procedure or treatment.
  • Be informed in your preferred language and be provided language assistance, including an interpreter, to answer any questions you have.
  • Receive treatment without discrimination and be able to ask for changes in your treatment without fear of diminishing the quality of care you will receive.
  • Receive respectful and considerate care in a clean, safe, smoke-free environment.
  • Receive emergency care when needed.
  • Know the names and positions of the staff in charge of or involved with your care.
  • Refuse unwanted treatment, examination or observation, and refuse to participate in research.
  • Privacy while receiving care and confidentiality of all personal medical records.

Abortion is Legal

A person can legally obtain an abortion up to 24 weeks into a pregnancy in New York State. Abortion after this point is only permitted to save the life of the pregnant person. There is no imposed waiting period to receive an abortion in New York State.

Access to a Clinic is Protected

In New York State, access to reproductive health clinics is protected by federal, state, and (in some locations) local laws. When visiting a clinic, it is important that you understand your rights. No one can harass you, threaten you, or physically block you from entering a clinic and obtaining medical services. If you feel threatened by protesters outside a facility, let clinic staff know immediately so they can better protect your health and safety.

  • Federal protections — The Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act (1994) prohibits the use of force or threat of force or physical obstruction, to intentionally injure, intimidate or interfere with or attempt to injure, intimidate or interfere with any person or any class of persons from obtaining or providing reproductive health services.
  • State law protections — New York State Clinic Access Act (1999): Similar to the Federal FACE Act, prohibits acts of force, written or verbal threats of force, and some physical obstructions outside of a clinic.
  • New York City — Access to Reproductive Health Care Facilities Act (2010): Prohibits activities, and attempted activities, preventing access to reproductive health care facilities.

Privacy and Confidentiality

Your medical records are private and confidential. However, privacy laws may not apply to insurance records, so while your insurance company should not share your personal medical information with your employer, your privacy is not guaranteed by law. To find out how your insurance reports to your employer or your insurance policy holder (if not yourself), and what type of information about you is provided, call the Customer Service office of your insurance plan.

If You Are Under Age 18

You can obtain an abortion without having to notify or get permission from a parent or guardian. While you may want to seek the advice of a parent or another adult, you are not required to get their permission. In addition, any pregnant person can consent to medical, dental, health, and hospital services relating to prenatal care. Virtually any necessary medical treatment that a pregnant person receives can be regarded as “relating to prenatal care.” For this reason, pregnant teens can consent to all, or almost all, healthcare services on their own behalf. (Reprinted with permission from the New York Civil Liberties Union Reproductive Rights Project.)

Learn about additional resources for minors.