Proposed Westchester County's Reproductive Healthcare Facilities Access Act up for vote

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Monday, June 27, 2022
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The Westchester County's Reproductive Healthcare Facilities Access Act goes before the county board of legislators at its meeting Monday night. Joe Torres has the story.

WESTCHESTER COUNTY (WABC) -- With the Supreme Court's ruling to overturn Roe v Wade, the timing and importance of Westchester County's Reproductive Healthcare Facilities Access Act couldn't be more critical.

Vince Russell is the President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic which has 10 facilities in four area counties.

"It will provide a more safe entranceway for our patients as well as our staff if this bill is enforced upon its enactment," Russell said.

MaryJane Shimsky is the chief sponsor of the proposed bill, which goes before the county board of legislators at its meeting Monday night.

The legislation would make it illegal to physically prevent or intimidate those seeking medical services.

Protestors would have to stay at least 25 feet away from any women's healthcare facility and it prohibits demonstrators from interfering with the operations of a clinic.

Abortion rights advocates anticipate more women will come to New York for their reproductive healthcare needs and they expect protestors will follow.

RELATED Tri-State reacts to Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade

"Some of the groups have already issued public statements promising that that is what they are going to do," Shimsky said.

Shimsky spent several years working on the bill which gained traction last November.

That's when a group of protestors gained access to a clinic in White Plains, effectively shutting it down and refused to leave.

She says the county legislation would work hand-in-hand with established state laws.

"Depending on what your behavior or activity is you can get prosecuted under one or the other or both," Shimsky said.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams also took steps to ensure public safety at city-run facilities.

On Monday morning, he visited a reproductive health clinic that's been preparing for the influx of people who have been denied reproductive rights in their own states.

"For five years they've been preparing on how do we build the infrastructure so we are here for those women who come into the city looking for services," Adams said.

ALSO READ | Roe v Wade Decision: What does Supreme Court abortion ruling mean for New York, New Jersey, Conn.

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