The North Hempstead Town Board will continue a hearing on Sept. 1 to consider the repeal of a 50-year-old section of town code that allows only hospitals, facilities administered by a hospital or facilities affiliated with a hospital to terminate pregnancies.
During an Aug. 4 meeting, the vote to continue the hearing was approved 4-2 along partisan lines with Republican Supervisor Jennifer DeSena absent due to what was said to be a longstanding family commitment.
Although not present at the initial hearing, DeSena will have the chance to vote this Thursday on the ordinance she said she was in favor of repealing.
“Although I was unfortunately unable to be there in person tonight to cast my vote due to a longstanding prior family commitment, I support the repeal of this chapter and would have voted yes for it, as it brings North Hempstead’s Town Code into conformity with state law, and removes a chapter of our code which is unenforceable and superseded by the New York Public Health Law,” DeSena said in a statement following the meeting.
Chapter 41A in town code was adopted on Aug. 10, 1971, one year after the state Senate legalized abortion up to the 24th week of pregnancy and two years before the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on Roe v. Wade, which permitted abortions during the first two trimesters of pregnancy in the United States.
In June, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe, ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that the U.S. Constitution does not grant a right to abortion.
In 1971, more than half of the 16,593 women who had abortions on Long Island used non-hospital clinics in Nassau County, according to The New York Times.
At the time, North Hempstead had limited abortion access to hospitals only along with the cities of Glen Cove and Long Beach, the towns of Hempstead and Oyster Bay and the Suffolk County towns of Babylon and Suffolk, according to The Times.
The initial hearing featured residents and elected officials that spoke on both sides of the issue. After the hearing had gone on for multiple hours, Democrats opted to continue the hearing in order to reflect on what was said, speak with residents and allow for more resident participation in the future.
The next Town of North Hempstead Town Board meeting will be held Thursday, Sept. 1.