Committee Reports

Protecting New York City’s Buffer Zones for Reproductive Health Care Clinics


The Sex & Law Committee (Katharine Bodde, Chair) wrote a letter to Mayor de Blasio to express its concern regarding the increasing levels of harassment, intimidation and outright physical obstruction by protesters at reproductive health care clinics in the New York City area. Both the federal Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances and the New York State Clinic Access Act give patients and staff the right to be free from force, threats of force, or physical obstruction when trying to obtain or provide reproductive healthcare services. In addition, New York City law sets a 15-foot zone in front of clinics in which similar types of illegal behavior by protesters face increased penalties. Despite these protections, abortion clinics as well as their staff and patients continue to experience increasingly aggressive attacks. The Committee offers a series of recommendations to help address this issue, including prioritizing and investing city resources to develop and implement training programs on how to identify clinic access law violations for law enforcement in precincts surrounding reproductive health care centers; working more closely with law enforcement to ensure more effective enforcement of the current clinic access law; creating an infrastructure for better monitoring and reporting of clinic access law violations; and developing a task force to periodically review the status of protester activity around reproductive healthcare centers and make recommendations for addressing violations of current clinic access laws.