Town Board set for hearing to repeal local law that limits abortions to hospitals

Town Board set for hearing to repeal local law that limits abortions to hospitals
The North Hempstead Town Board's next meeting will be Thursday, Aug. 4. (Photo courtesy of the office of the supervisor)

The Town of North Hempstead Town Board is set to hold a public hearing regarding 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 as pregnancy termination facilities. 

Town Councilwoman Veronica Lurvey submitted the resolution, which was unanimously approved, at the July 7 meeting that aims to remove the law in its entirety. 

“We are going to be dealing with some antiquated and confusing language from a 50-year-old Town law that really needs to be addressed,” Lurvey said in a statement. “The Town should not be putting up barriers on a woman’s right to choose.”

The local law was adopted on Aug. 10, 1971, one year after the state Senate legalized abortion up to the 24th week of pregnancy in the state 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 1971, more than half of the 16,593 women that had abortions on Long Island used nonhospital clinics in Nassau County, according to The New York Times

At the time, North Hempstead had limited abortion access to only hospitals along with the Cities of Glen Cove and Long Beach, the Town of Hempstead and Oyster Bay and the Suffolk Counties Towns of Babylon and Suffolk, according to The New York Times. 

In June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that the Constitution does not grant a right to abortion, reversing nearly 50 years of Roe’s ruling.

The decision was bashed by Long Island Democrats and supported by local Republicans, including U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley), the Republican candidate in New York’s gubernatorial race in November. 

Anyone convicted of violating the North Hempstead law would be punished by a maximum fine of $1,000, a maximum imprisonment of 15 days, or both, according to town code.

The next meeting for the North Hempstead Town Board will be Thursday, Aug. 4

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