Albany County Legislature Tables Local Law “D”

New York Families Action has worked to defend the sanctity of life in the Empire State for more than four decades. Here in New York, we and our pro-life allies face a challenging environment in which Gov. Kathy Hochul, Attorney General Letitia James, State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, and other high-level elected officials do everything in their power to promote abortion.

Even in New York, however, pro-life wins are possible with the Lord’s help. Today, we thank God for one of those wins.

In early April, Alpha Pregnancy Care Center received a tip indicating that a bill targeting pro-life pregnancy centers was being introduced in the Albany County Legislature. That bill is known as Local Law “D” for 2024. The bill’s heading states that it would prohibit “false and misleading statements by crisis pregancy [sic] centers.”

Like many other liberal bills in New York, Local Law “D” is misleading. The bill’s true purpose is to pressure pregnancy centers not to express messages that are disfavored by the abortion industry and to punish pregnancy centers if they refuse to back down. Here are the specifics:

  • Local Law “D” makes a variety of claims about the supposed safety of abortion without offering any basis for those claims. Some of these claims are dubious, while others are simply preposterous. For example, the bill states that the idea that abortion may cause mental health issues in women has been “medically disproven.” This contention ignores the life experiences of countless women who have, in fact, struggled with mental health issues following an abortion.
  • Local Law “D” offers a definition of “medically-accurate information” that makes reference to pro-abortion groups like the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
  • Local Law “D” would subject pro-life pregnancy centers to crippling penalties of up to $5,000 per violation for engaging in speech that contradicts the pro-abortion orthodoxy of the bill’s sponsors. This proposal is designed to enable Albany County government to act as Big Brother, determining what does and does not constitute “medically-accurate information” and policing the speech of pregnancy centers accordingly.
  • Local Law D would require pregnancy centers to post signs stating that abortion and so-called “emergency contraception” are legal in New York. This is wrong. Government cannot demand that pro-life groups advertise the fact that abortion is available.

To put it simply, Local Law “D” could be used to punish pregnancy centers for telling clients the truth about abortion and its aftereffects. Local Law “D” targets pregnancy centers because the bill’s sponsors—at least three of whom are current or former employees of Planned Parenthood or its affiliates—dislike their views. This type of targeting is unconstitutional.

Alpha Pregnancy Care Center is a Christian charity that has been serving pregnant women since 1989. It is led by Executive Director Will Babarczy. Alpha’s staff and volunteers operate five life-affirming pregnancy centers, including two in Albany County. When Alpha became aware of Local Law “D,” it understood that the bill was a threat to its ministry to women and children. Alpha alerted New York Families Action and other pro-life allies about the situation and sprang into action. Alpha invited members of the Albany County Legislature to visit one of its centers and find out what the organization is all about. Several of them took Alpha up on that invitation.

On April 8, when Local Law “D” was introduced, Will Babarczy and three others addressed the Legislature during a public comment period. New York Families had the opportunity to meet with the four speakers in advance and offer insights on how to craft their remarks. Mr. Babarczy informed the Legislature about Alpha’s mission and about the problems with Local Law “D.” The other speakers shared about the positive impact Alpha has had in their lives and in the lives of others in the community.

Local Law “D” was scheduled to be considered by the County Legislature’s Law Committee on April 24, 2024. However, the bill was tabled. This action by the Committee signals that the bill has been withdrawn from further consideration for the time being. This is a victory for Alpha, and for the pro-life movement.

New York Families thanks Albany County Legislator Mark Grimm (R-Guilderland) and Alpha’s other allies in the Legislature for their role in this victory. Most of all, we thank the Lord.