Hempstead, Oyster Bay repeal local abortion restrictions, following North Hempstead

Originally published in The Island 360 on September 24, 2022.

The Towns of Hempstead and Oyster Bay have repealed local abortion restrictions following recent calls from elected officials.

Earlier this month, North Hempstead’s Town Board voted unanimously Thursday to repeal a 50-year-old section of the town code that limited where pregnancies could be terminated to hospitals, facilities administered by a hospital or facilities affiliated with a hospital.

On Wednesday morning, elected officials gathered at the Nassau County Courthouse to provide an update on municipalities that have also repealed their restrictions and those that have not. 

The Villages of Williston Park, Freeport and the Town of Huntington have not yet taken any actions.

“Two weeks ago, I called on local officials to repeal draconian abortion restrictions that were still on the books here on Long Island, and today I’m proud to announce that the Towns of Oyster Bay and Hempstead did exactly what I told them to do: they repealed their abortion restrictions! While they may not have done so with any fanfare, this is a moment worth celebrating, and I thank them for this achievement,” state Sen. Anna Kaplan (D-North Hills) said. “Now, it’s time for officials in the remaining three Long Island communities to do their part and repeal their abortion restrictions, which we know were enacted with the sole purpose of getting between women and their right to choose.”

On Sept. 8, Kaplan and state Assemblywoman Gina Sillitti went through the municipal code of over 110 Long Island communities. 

“I joined my colleagues in the state Legislature to send an unequivocal message, New York will always support a woman’s right to choose,” Sillitti said. “I am glad that the Town of North Hempstead, the Town of Hempstead, and the Town of Oyster Bay have joined our call to action and repealed the anti-abortion statutes still on their books, sending a message to women everywhere that your rights are too important to leave unprotected.”

The local laws were adopted after the state Senate in 1970 legalized abortion up to the 24th week of pregnancy. They are also practically enforceable due to overarching legislation such as the state’s Reproductive Health Act.

State Assemblyman Charles Lavine (D-Westbury) said it was important to support women’s reproductive freedom. 

“Action such as this is necessary to provide the legal support for women to be able to choose what to do with their own bodies,” Lavine said. “We must continue at every level of government, from a municipality on up to the state, to do whatever is necessary to protect women’s reproductive freedom amidst a continuous assault on their rights.”