The Westchester County Board of Legislators in Westchester, New York, has voted to provide more protection to women seeking access to reproductive health services to avoid intimidation and harassment from so-called “sidewalk counselors” outside the clinics. The Reproductive Health Care Facilities Access law would provide a larger buffer zone, will lessen the need to prove the anti-choice protester “intended” to block access to the building, and will allow a staff member to lodge a complaint on behalf of the client.
Via Talk of the Town:
“The boundaries of lawful First Amendment expression of free speech are crossed with physical harassment and intimidation, threatening language, berating and taunts,” said Legislator Judy Myers (D-Larchmont). “My colleagues on the Board and I believe that current law does not go far enough to protect those wanting health care service at reproductive health care facilities or those working at these facilities. This legislation will ensure public safety, protect freedoms, advance medical privacy and safeguard public property.”
“This is the best clinic access legislation in the country, in my opinion,” said BOL Chairman Ken Jenkins (D-Yonkers). “The bill balances public safety and freedom of speech while providing the people of this county protection they deserve. Best of all, this bill gives people back a good measure of their privacy in a situation where it should be expected.”
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Before the bill becomes law, it would first need to be signed by County Executive Rob Astorino, a Republican.