After two hours of heated debate, North Hempstead City Council voted unanimously on Thursday to repeal a 50-year-old section of city code that limited when pregnancies could be terminated to hospitals, facilities run by a hospital or establishments affiliated with a hospital.
The public hearing, which drew 25 comments, was a continuation of a two-hour hearing in which City Council Democrats voted 4-2 along party lines to push the vote to Thursday evening.
Republican Supervisor Jennifer DeSena did not attend the August meeting, saying she had a “long-standing prior family commitment,” leaving Deputy Supervisor Joe Scalero to lead the meeting, but without any voting rights.
On Thursday, DeSena revised her explanation, saying she was in Delaware with her family on vacation.
State Sen. Anna Kaplan (D-North Hills), who spoke in favor of repealing the law, criticized DeSena for her absence in August and the change of reason she gave.
“Supervisor, I was disappointed that you couldn’t be here last time because I know so many of our residents are eager to know whether or not you support a woman’s right to access an abortion. in the town of North Hempstead.” Kaplan said at the meeting.
Kaplan, who is running for re-election to the state Senate and once served on city council, then questioned DeSena’s claim that she missed the August meeting because she was on vacation.
“It should be noted that the Town of North Hempstead sets dates for board meetings early in the year to avoid such personal scheduling conflicts, and supervisor DeSena did not mention that she had had a dispute when the critically important item was added to the August agenda. meeting,” Kaplan said.
City Attorney Frank Chiara said the council vote was not needed at the start of the meeting in response to a request from DeSena to outline the local law, Chapter 41A, its history and its application today. today.
“There’s no real effectiveness, it’s inapplicable,” Chiara said. “It’s a law on the books that’s against state law.”
The local law 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 U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on Roe v. Wade, which allowed abortions in the first two trimesters. pregnancy in the United States.