Abortion Restrictions on Long Island Uncovered; Officials Urge Repeal

Following successful efforts by the Town of North Hempstead to repeal abortion restrictions still in municipal code, Senator Anna M. Kaplan and Assemblywoman Gina L. Sillitti undertook a comprehensive review of municipal code for over 110 of Long Island's Counties, Towns, Villages and Cities

Upon review, Kaplan & Sillitti discovered several municipalities, home to over 1.25 million Long Islanders, still have abortion restrictions on the books

At a media event today, Kaplan & Sillitti were joined by Town of North Hempstead Officials, State Legislative colleagues, and advocates, to call on 5 local governments to repeal their abortion restrictions and protect women's rights across Long Island in a post-Roe era

Click here to download photos from the September 8 press event, and copies of the local abortion restrictions

MINEOLA, NY (September 8, 2022) - Today, New York State Senator Anna M. Kaplan (D-North Hills) and Assemblywoman Gina L. Sillitti (D-Port Washington) held a press conference on the steps of the Nassau County Courthouse in Mineola, NY to announce the results of a comprehensive review they recently undertook to find out if any communities on Long Island continued to have abortion restrictions on the books within their municipal codes. The effort comes on the heels of the successful effort by the Town of North Hempstead to repeal abortion restrictions that, until last week, continued to exist in the Town Code.

Senator Anna M. Kaplan said "If we've learned anything from the extremist Supreme Court's reckless decision to steal our Constitutional right to choose, it's that we can't take anything for granted, and we've got to fight for our rights at every level of government, because clearly there are people who will stop at nothing to assert their control over women, and they'll use every trick in the book to do it. It's shocking that over a million people on Long Island currently live in a community where there are still abortion restrictions on the books, and we know that these laws were enacted with the sole purpose of getting between women and their right to choose. It's time for officials in those communities to follow the lead of the Town of North Hempstead, and stand up for women by repealing these unjust barriers to abortion care, and finally sending these draconian restrictions to the dustbin of history where they belong."

Assemblywoman Gina L. Sillitti said "The New York Legislature made sure a woman's right to choose was protected and now we are looking to our local municipalities to do the same. I am thankful the Town of North Hempstead is leading the way. Because make no mistake about it, administrations could change. Elected officials could change. There are those running for office right now trying to repeal these efforts, and as a proud pro-choice elected official, we have to make sure every loophole is closed; and closed tight."

Upon review of the municipal code of over 110 of Long Island's Counties, Towns, Villages, and Cities, Senator Kaplan and Assemblywoman Sillitti discovered that 5 municipalities with a combined population of over 1.25 million people continue to have draconian abortion restrictions on their books. Senator Kaplan and Assemblywoman Sillitti were joined by Senator John Brooks, Assemblywoman Judy Griffin, Assemblywoman Taylor Darling, Town of North Hempstead Councilmembers Veronica Lurvey, Mariann Dalimonte, and Peter Zuckerman, along with impacted Long Island women and representatives from Planned Parenthood of Greater New York, to urge the elected leaders of the 5 Towns and Villages to repeal these laws, and send a message that women's reproductive rights on Long Island will always be protected, no matter what.

The 5 municipalities that continue to have abortion restrictions in their municipal code are the Town of Hempstead, the Town of Oyster Bay, the Town of Huntington, the Village of Freeport, and the Village of Williston Park. The laws generally restrict access to abortions of any kind, including medication based, non-surgical abortions, by requiring that all abortions take place in a hospital setting, effectively outlawing abortion clinics like Planned Parenthood, and adding an extraordinary time and cost barrier to keep women from accessing this vital healthcare. Individuals found violating these ordinances could be subject to jail time and fines. Click here to download the full text of each municipality's restrictions.

The laws in each municipality were passed and added to local code in the early 1970's during a wave of such measures being enacted across Long Island as a means of restricting access to abortions in local communities and preventing the establishment of clinics that provide abortion care. While the laws are not presently enforceable due to action by the State Legislature to protect abortion rights statewide through measures like The Reproductive Health Act, which was passed in 2019 and co-sponsored by Senator Kaplan, the fall of Roe V. Wade has shown that no protection is guaranteed in our nation's current climate, and without federal protection, State Law is the last line of protection for women's rights.

At a time when certain candidates for State Legislature and Governor are campaigning on a platform of repealing protections recently enacted in State Law, it's incumbent that existing "trigger laws" on the books, like those discovered here on Long Island, are removed in order to protect women's access to reproductive healthcare no matter what happens in a future State election.

Town of North Hempstead Council Member Veronica Lurvey, sponsor of the Town of North Hempstead repeal effort, said “Nobody should be putting up barriers on a woman's right to choose. At the Town of North Hempstead, we repealed an antiquated and misguided restriction that placed an undue burden on individuals and medical professionals. I am proud to join Senator Kaplan and Assemblywoman Sillitti in calling all Long Island municipalities to follow the example set by the Town of North Hempstead and examine their codes for these types of trigger laws and get them off the books.”

Senator John Brooks said "I firmly believe that every woman has a right to choose, so I was disturbed to learn that there are still restrictions on women's choice here in our own community. These antiquated laws were put on the books in an effort to stop women from accessing safe, lawful abortions, and they have no business still being on the books in our community today. I join Senator Kaplan and Assemblywoman Sillitti in calling for these unjust and offensive barriers to women's healthcare to be repealed in our Towns and Villages without delay."

Assemblywoman Judy Griffin said “As a mother and new grandmother, I will always stand proudly for the all-American ideals of freedom, privacy, and equality for all. Now is the time to come together and begin the process of repealing these so-called 'trigger laws' that lay in wait, hoping for anti-choice officials to take charge of New York State. I ask our local officials in the Town of Hempstead and Village of Freeport to follow the North Hempstead Town model by repealing their antiquated abortion laws and speaking with one voice: we support choice."

Assemblywoman Taylor Darling said "I'm glad to have such vigilant colleagues locally and in the State, protecting women/human rights at all costs. The protection of women's rights is an economic investment for the State and Nation as a whole. And we all know, if men could be pregnant, this would not be a conversation at all."

Assemblymember Charles Lavine said "Amidst a continuing onslaught against abortion access, it is necessary that we take action to ensure women are safely able to get the reproductive healthcare they need. My partners in the Senate and Assembly will continue in our relentless pursuit to protect women’s rights, which are human rights."

Town of North Hempstead Council Member Mariann Dalimonte said “I am calling on our friends in government across Long Island to do what’s right for their constituents as we have in North Hempstead. I believe it is our responsibility as elected officials to ensure that women’s reproductive rights are protected. Government has no business entering the operating room and getting involved in these types of decisions."

Town of North Hempstead Council Member Peter Zuckerman said "North Hempstead recently took an important step to place further protections on abortion rights in our Town. We urge elected leaders throughout Long Island to follow in our footsteps."

Karen Seltzer, Planned Parenthood of Greater New York, Board Chair said "We have reached a crisis point for abortion access in this country and though New York is an abortion access state we cannot take this right for granted. The right to abortion is meaningless without equitable access to abortion services. It is unacceptable that millions of people in Nassau County are facing unnecessary barriers and political roadblocks to essential health care. Planned Parenthood of Greater New York applauds Senator Kaplan and reproductive rights champions across Nassau County who are working to strike antiquated, anti-abortion laws from town codes.  We are calling on everyone – at every level of government – to take bold and necessary action to ensure every community, every zip code, and every person is able to get the reproductive health care they need and deserve."