Westchester Board of Legislators repeals part of reproductive rights law
The Westchester County Board of Legislators changed a law that protects patients who leave or enter reproductive health care facilities.
The Board of Legislators amended the Bubble Zone law by repealing a piece of it after being told local clinics might not be able to enforce it.
The Bubble Zone law was originally signed in 2022 right after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.
The original law, the Reproductive Health Care Facilities Act, created a no-harassment zone around both people and a facility's perimeter.
The repeal removes the restrictions around a person but not around a facility. Lawmakers cited enforcement issues as their reason for the repeal.
"Because of some of the potential difficulties in enforcement, even though to date there hasn't been any enforcement," said the Board of Legislators' Colin Smith.
Abortion rights advocates said they like this decision. The president of the local Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic told News 12, "The bubble zone provision of the legislation was unenforceable, and therefore disrupts the integrity of the legislation's overall ability to achieve its goal of protecting patients of reproductive health care facilities. Repealing the bubble zone provision will, in fact, strengthen the Reproductive Health Care Facilities Act by making the protections of the law more concrete and clearer for all people to understand."
Before this week's vote, challengers of this law were hoping to bring their case to the Supreme Court. News 12 was told this change will not stop that.
"The county is trying to be held accountable for violating the First Amendment. We have a case that is teed up for the Supreme Court, it's ready for the court to hear," said Joseph Davis, council for The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.
The case stems from a Westchester County woman who was training to become a sidewalk counselor when the law was approved. An appeals court recently ruled against her. Her attorney said that is not stopping them from trying to get the high court to hear their case.
"We are happy to see an unjust law repealed, but it's too late for having to answer for breaking the law," Davis added.
News 12 reached out to multiple local lawmakers and abortion rights clinics and groups on this issue but they declined to comment.