Westchester approves reproductive health care facilities access act


WHITE PLAINS – The Westchester Board of Legislators voted Monday to approve a law ensuring safe access to reproductive health care facilities. The measure passed by a 15-2 vote. County Executive George Latimer signed the act into law immediately after its approval by the board.

The new law, which takes effect immediately, will protect health care workers and patients seeking medical treatment from being obstructed from entering or exiting a reproductive health care facility and from harassing behavior from persons within specific distances of the premises. It enacts a 25-foot no-harassment zone around the facility’s perimeter and establishes the designation of an eight-foot personal space bubble surrounding the person within 100 feet of the facility.

County leaders said as the nation reels from the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision that overturned Roe v. Wade, the need to codify stronger anti-harassment legislation for reproductive health patients, providers, and staff while preserving the free speech of legitimate protestors is more critical now than ever. The decision will likely result in an increase of out-of-state residents seeking reproductive health care and, conversely, an increase in anti-choice protesting.

“Women will be looking to New York for sanctuary to reclaim their bodily autonomy, and we want to say Westchester is ready,” said Chairwoman Catherine Borgia, a Democrat, and one of the original sponsors. “Any person who travels to our county seeking reproductive care can access it safely without intimidation or provocation. I hope other counties can see the urgency and importance of this law and consider it for their jurisdictions, as well.”

Democratic Legislator MaryJane Shimsky, main sponsor of the bill, said, “The road to getting this act passed was very long and arduous. However, it’s led us to a strong, well-balanced piece of legislation that safeguards the rights of patients to receive their care without infringing on protected free speech.”
“We want to protect the women who need these services from aggressive advocacy that exceeds free speech and becomes intimidation and interference with their personal safety,” said County Executive George Latimer.

Read the legislation at:  https://bit.ly/3bjScYb

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