The Westchester County Board of Legislators set a public hearing for April 30 at 7:30 p.m. on a bill prohibiting anti-abortion protesters from blocking or intimidating patients or workers entering clinics that provide abortions.
Representatives of Planned Parenthood and groups opposing abortion spoke at the Legislature’s meeting before the hearing was set Monday. More than 25 anti-abortion activists sat in the audience with signs saying “Please Vote No on Clinic Access Bill” and speakers said the sponsors of the bill were trying to curtail their free speech rights.
One speaker, Judith Anderson, said the law will likely be challenged in court.
“This attempt to silence the truth will not stand,” she said.
But Planned Parenthood representatives said their clients are intimidated and harassed as they enter clinics.
“If you think it’s really just about praying and peaceful protest you’re wrong,” said Lisa Winjum, the director of public policy and advocacy at Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic.
Legislator Judy Myers, one of the sponsors of the bill, said though there are already bills at the federal and state level, the Westchester bill is needed to address conditions particular to the suburbs, like long driveways and parking lots. The bill provides for both criminal charges and civil suits.