The following is from the Westchester County Board of Legislators' Democratic Party:
Calling for public input on public safety
White Plains, NY – Members of the Democratic Women’s Caucus of the Westchester County Board of Legislators (BOL) stated today they will continue to fight for important legislation that will provide safe access for both women and men to reproductive health care facilities.
Legislator Judy Myers (D-Larchmont), noted that the BOL Legislation Committee had worked on the clinic access legislation for two years, and that numerous changes were made to the bill after a public hearing and in-depth discussions at the committee table with dozens of health care officials, pro-life and pro-choice advocates, and First Amendment experts.
Problems arise when individuals and groups exceed the boundaries of lawful First Amendment expression by engaging in activities that physically prevent or otherwise unlawfully intimidate people from entering facilities that provide reproductive health care services. The BOL Legislation Committee found that current law does not protect those who work in or seek services from these public health facilities, and so legislation has been proposed to prohibit interference with access to the facilities.
The legislators, though still disappointed and dismayed by the Republican caucus’ denying the public an opportunity to voice its opinions and ideas about the revised legislation, vowed to keep pushing for the BOL to approve the protections written into the bill.
“I’m looking forward to a public hearing taking place to hear from our residents once more before the Board of Legislators votes to make sure women and men can safely access the health care facilities of their choosing,” said Legislator MaryJane Shimsky (D-Hastings-on-Hudson), chair of the BOL Appointments Committee.
Republican legislator Gordon Burrows (R-Yonkers), the BOL’s Minority Whip, held over the vote on approval for the public hearing on clinic access at the BOL’s regular meeting on Monday night. The matter will now be taken up at the next regular meeting of the BOL on Monday, April 16.
“The Board of Legislators has toiled to balance the rights of women to safe access to health care with upholding our rights to free speech,” said Legislator Judy Myers (D-Larchmont), chair of the BOL’s Budget & Appropriations Committee. “This revised legislation reflects a tremendous commitment by numerous parties to create protections for residents that don’t exist yet in other laws.”
“Our residents should be able to get proper health care without being demeaned and threatened in public,” said Legislator Alfreda Williams (D-Greenburgh), chair of the BOL Community Services Committee. “It’s simple as that.”
“It is un-American to threaten or physically obstruct and intimidate people who are seeking health care services,” said Legislator Catherine Borgia (D-Ossining), chair of the BOL’s Government Operations Committee. “Physically abusive behavior as such is not right for Westchester and is certainly not protected by the First Amendment.”