понедельник, 17 сентября 2012 г.

SPEAKER QUINN FIGHTS TO PROTECT WOMEN'S ACCESS TO HEALTH SERVICES WITH ANNOUNCEMENT OF NEW LEGISLATION - US Fed News Service, Including US State News

The New York City Council issued the following press release:

City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn today announced the introduction of the Clinic Access Bill, which will protect women seeking services at reproductive health care facilities. Currently, many women are faced with harassment and other hostile acts as they attempt to enter and exit clinics. The Clinic Access Bill will improve the city's ability to protect reproductive health clinics and the women who utilize them and will make it easier for the city to prosecute those who violate the law.

Several women's rights leaders joined Speaker Quinn at today's announcement, including Kelli Conlin, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice NY; Dana Czuczka, Associate Vice President of Governmental Affairs of Planned Parenthood New York; Donna Lieberman, Executive Director of the New York Civil Liberties Union; Maryana Banzil, Executive Adminstrator of Dr. Emily's Women's Health Center; and Council Members Helen Foster, Helen Sears, Bill de Blasio, Jessica Lappin and Tish James.

A number of clinics throughout the city have reported problems with patients freely accessing the health services they need. Anti-choice protesters frequent the clinics and their surrounding areas, harassing both patients and staff. Many women, as a result, are intimidated away or otherwise prevented from accessing their healthcare. This is a clear violation of both the women's right to access healthcare and the clinics' right to provide services.

'No one has the right to decide what a woman can and cannot do to protect her health. With this bill, women can be confident in their health decisions and know that no one can stand in their way,' said Speaker Quinn. 'If any woman faces threats, harassment or fear as she approaches a clinic, she will know the city stands behind her in taking action against her harasser.'

The Clinic Access Bill will make it illegal to follow and harass any individual or place that individual in fear of physical harm within a fifteen-foot area around a reproductive health care facility. The bill will also prohibit blocking a clinic's entrance or exit, including its parking lots and driveways.

The legislation will also ease the burden of proof currently required in order to prosecute harassers. The current local law requires prosecutors to prove that a defendant intended to prevent someone from obtaining or assisting in reproductive health services. Under the new legislation, proof of such intent would no longer be required for prosecution. Additionally, either a clinic or a patient will be able to file a harassment complaint; currently only an individual's complaints about such behavior are able to be prosecuted.

'Being able to access healthcare without intimidation sounds like common sense, doesn't it? Unfortunately - to the protestors who harass, intimidate and coerce women who try to access legal reproductive health care - it's not. Such behavior should not stand in New York. We are not a community that allows extremists to interfere with women's lives. And we are putting our foot down. We will not stand by as harassment and intimidation rule the streets and we will not allow it to escalate to violence,' said Kelli Conlin, President of NARAL Pro-Choice New York.

'Even in New York City women are being harassed outside of women's health centers. On behalf of our clients, providers and women across New York, we thank Speaker Quinn and the entire city council for standing up for women and protecting their ability to access health services,' said Joan Malin, President of Planned Parenthood of NYC.

'This proposal will add teeth to the city law, by making it clearer what is prohibited and who may bring a complaint,' said Donna Lieberman, NYCLU's executive director. 'This will allow our local law enforcement to better safeguard women's rights to access critical services, and to better protect doctors and clinic staff from violent or threatening behavior.'

'We are so thankful to Speaker Quinn and the City Council for introducing legislation that will make it safer and easier for women to obtain reproductive health care services,' said Maryana Banzil, Executive Administrator, Dr. Emily's. 'As Executive Administrator at Dr. Emily's, a women's medical clinic in the south Bronx, I can say from firsthand experience that the women coming to see us everyday often feel frightened and ashamed. These new protections will give our patients and staff a place to turn to when free speech crosses the line to harassment and will allow us to provide women with the care and compassion that they deserve.'

FOSTER

'The right of women to access safe, competent reproductive health care is an important one,' said Council Member Sears, Chair of the Women's Issues Committee. 'This bill will ensure this right against unlawful harassment and intimidation, and will guarantee that every woman can make the reproductive choices that are best for her.'

'We must ensure that women have real access to reproductive health care options. I am proud to be a co-sponsor of this legislation, which protects the rights of women while also honoring freedom of speech for those who disagree,' said Council Member de Blasio.

'Women seeking health care should not have to feel intimidated. They should feel safe and empowered. As a trained Planned Parenthood clinic escort, I've spent time ushering women into the Bleecker Street clinic. I witnessed firsthand the need to create a buffer zone for women seeking health care.'

ARROYO

'Women exercising their legal rights to privacy and health care should not have to worry about fearing for their lives, or face reprisal when utilizing services at reproductive health care facilities. Individuals seeking reproductive health care services are already emotionally and physically vulnerable; aggressive attacks on patients by protesters are unacceptable and will not be tolerated at clinics,' said Council Member James.

The Clinic Access bill is sponsored by Speaker Quinn and Council Members Reyna, Lappin, Foster, Yassky, Seabrook, Sears, and de Blasio. It will be referred to the Civil Rights Committee, which will hold a hearing on the legislation in the coming weeks.