The City Council announced at a press conference Friday that it is strengthening efforts to ensure women have safe access to abortion clinics in the city. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.
An amateur video provided by Choices Women's Medical Center in Queens showed a woman being surrounded by anti-abortion protesters as she tried to enter the clinic.
"I am videoing you pinning her in against the wall. You are breaking a law," said the person filming the video.
A law passed by the City Council three years ago specifically prohibits obstruction and harassment within 15 feet of reproductive health centers.
Whether the law is actually being violated in this instance is tough to say. However, to ensure safe access, the Council is sponsoring an initiative to provide protective escorts for women who try to enter these facilities.
"These escorts will help guide patients and staff in and out of buildings while shielding them from demonstrators at the site," said City Council Speaker Christine Quinn.
The escorts will be trained by Planned Parenthood and the New York Civil Liberties Union.
"Women in this city have to run a vicious gauntlet through what are called demonstrators, protesters,” said Merle Hoffman the founder of Choices Women's Medical Center. “I call them bullies and the American Taliban."
During Friday's press conference, advocates for women's rights used phrases such as "the war on women" to describe what they said is a multi-pronged assault on women's rights.
NY1 asked about the Vito Lopez sexual harassment scandal and whether actions at the highest levels of the Assembly to keep those allegations quiet should also be condemned in equally strong terms.
"The speaker made his statement that he believes some of his actions were a mistake," said Quinn. "And I support the speaker for being clear about what he thinks could have been done differently. I also supported the speaker when he also said there should be a full investigation. That is ongoing. We will know more when that is done and we can have a fuller conversation when that process is completed."
The City Council's initiative is strictly on a volunteer basis and is not expected to cost any money. The escorts will be available beginning Saturday, Nov. 3 and will be available every Saturday through the end of the year.