Westchester County Executive Robert P. Astorino today vetoed a bill he said purports to guarantee women access to certain reproductive health clinics but is legally flawed and unnecessary.
“The legislation is unnecessary, unfair and unconstitutional on its face, all of which put the public at risk,” said Astorino in his message to the Board of Legislators. “My veto is a principled attempt to spare our residents of these harmful consequences.”
Legislators approved the bill on May 7 by a 10-7 vote. It was opposed by a coalition of pro-life and pro-choice legislators. It would take 12 votes to override the veto.
“At a time when your Honorable Board has failed to act on $80 million in pending and much needed capital projects and has failed to act on 37 pending appointments to various Boards and Commissions why is so much time being expended on a matter already addressed by two separate levels of government?” Astorino asked rhetorically.
Astorino gave the following reasons for his veto:
- The legislators who supported the bill and their supporters had failed to provide any evidence that the law was needed. In fact, he said, existing federal and state statutes already restrict protesters outside clinics and there was no evidence that these laws were insufficient or not being enforced.
- The law’s enactment would violate the First Amendment’s guarantees and result in an “unacceptable potential to chill freedom of speech and assembly.”
- The law subjects law-abiding citizens to frivolous lawsuits and exposes them to unreimbursable legal fees.
- The bill itself is legally flawed and vague and could be costly for the county to defend in legal proceedings.