North Hempstead City Council will continue a hearing on September 1 to consider repealing a Section of the 50-year-old city code that only allows hospitals, hospital-operated facilities, or hospital-affiliated facilities to terminate pregnancies.
At a meeting on August 4, the vote to proceed with the hearing was approved 4-2 along partisan lines, with Republican Supervisor Jennifer DeSena absent due to what was believed to be a long-standing family engagement.
Although she will not be present at the initial hearing, DeSena will have the chance to vote this Thursday on the order she said she favors repeal.
“Although I was unfortunately unable to be there in person tonight to vote due to a long-standing prior family engagement, I support the repeal of this chapter and would have voted yes, as it puts the code of the City of North Hempstead in compliance with state law, and remove a chapter of our code that is unenforceable and superseded by New York Public Health Law,” DeSena said in a statement after the meeting.
Chapter 41A of the city code was passed on August 10, 1971, a year after the state Senate legalized abortion up to the 24th week of pregnancy and two years before the Supreme Court ruling. United States on Roe v. Wade, which allowed abortions during the first two trimesters of pregnancy in the United States.
In June, the United States Supreme Court overturned Roe, ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization that the US Constitution does not grant the 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 with the towns 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 brought together residents and elected officials who spoke on both sides of the issue. After the hearing lasted several hours, Democrats elected to continue with the hearing in order to reflect on what was said, speak with residents, and allow for greater resident participation in the future.
The next town council meeting for the town of North Hempstead will be on Thursday 1 September.