The 2023 legislative session is upon us! On January 1, 2023, New York Midwives (NYM) President Helena Grant and Secretary Whitney Hall represented NYM and New York Birth Center Association (NYBCA) while sharing time with NYM Executive Administrator and Excelsior Service Fellow Shakera Tems at the historic inauguration of New York State Governor Kathy Hochul, Lt. Governor Antonio Delgado, Attorney General Letisha James, and Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. It was an empowering and inclusive event.
It began with prayers from a Black male Christian minister, an Arab Muslim Imam, and a White female Jewish Rabbi. Indeed diversity, inclusion, and the recognition and honor of differences were the genesis energy of the day.
The first elected woman, Governor of New York, was inaugurated on a Bible held by ninety-one years wise Dr. Hazel Dukes, past national President of the NAACP. The symbolism of this choice could not be more profound, nor the heartfelt sentiments they exchanged publicly. Our Governor announced the creation of a Hate and Bias Prevention Unit led by Lt. Governor Antonio Delgado. This initiative includes increased funding to protect Reproductive Health Centers and abortion services. There was also a heavy focus on women in leadership. The entire concourse in Albany was a display of historic influential NYS women of all races, cultures, and creeds.
This past week NYM watched and meditated upon the Governor’s State of the State, where she outlined her key legislative and budget priorities so that we may align and propose bills as appropriate.
NYM President Helena Grant, BILPOC Member At Large Patricia Loftman, and New York City Midwives (NYCM) Rep to NYM Odessa Fynn, on January 10, 2023, represented NYM at Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso’s State of the Borough Address, the first in 10 years. Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso, in 2022, gave the entirety of his capital funding budget of 45 million dollars to renovate the three Brooklyn public hospitals’ labor and birthing suites, mother-baby units, and NICUs. He highlighted his experience receiving midwifery care in a public hospital, just like everyday New Yorkers from immigrant and intentionally under-resourced communities of mostly Black and Brown women and birthing people, his commitment to ending Black Maternal Mortality and Morbidity, and the work of the taskforce he created, Co-Chaired by Helena. Spreading Love the Brooklyn Way: A Guide to a Safe & Healthy Pregnancy
Looking forward to 2023, the Brooklyn Borough President unveiled a montage of bold and innovative plans for the borough of Brooklyn that seek to course-correct many of the social determinants of health and build up communities in need. NYM will work with NYCM to bring these plans to fruition in whatever way serves our mission and vision to communities in need and desirous of midwifery care.
As we move into the next legislative session, we congratulate the new Assembly Health Committee chair, Assemblymember Amy Paulin (D), a long-time health committee member and valiant supporter of midwifery care and safe birthing experiences. We look forward to working closely with her, Senator Gustavo Rivera, and every elected official we can to improve healthcare for women and birthing people and those who choose abortion services in NYC and NYS. We will continue to stand with elected officials that protect reproductive freedom, refusing to align with racism, patriarchy, forced birth, forced parenthood, and denial of access to healthcare.
Today, on this 16th day of January, as we celebrate the life and legacy of the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Jr, we renew our commitment to galvanize around anti-racism, shifting economic injustice, and increasing social advocacy. We call upon his inspirational quote, “Of all forms of inequality, injustice in healthcare is the most shocking and inhumane.” We call upon midwifery, in the knowingness of our philosophical care model, to stand as stewards of the healing we can provide to clients, communities, students, and one another- even when telling the truth in a space, clinical or otherwise, is uncomfortable and difficult.
As NYM moves forward into this next year, we will increase our advocacy with elected officials in all chambers of New York City and State Legislatures – Borough Presidents, New York City Council, New York State Assembly and Senate, and the Governor’s Office. We will also partner with like-minded organizations to increase educational awareness of midwifery in all forms. We have quite an exciting and busy year of good and fruitful work ahead. Please join the legislative and advocacy committee, a committee of your interest, or an upcoming taskforce if you are interested in furthering advances for midwifery and those we care for in NYC and NYS.
Please stay tuned for the NYM yearly meeting schedule and calendar of events to be announced following the ACNM Town Hall on January 19, 2023. We look forward to sharing time and space with you!
The Board of New York Midwives