The City Council is set to pass legislation sponsored by City Councilman Mark Levine (D-Manhattan Valley, Manhattanville, Hamilton Heights) that will strike the names of physicians with defunct licenses from birth certificates.
Under the new law, the City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s (DOHMH) Office of Vital Records will be required to redact the names of physicians who have had their licenses either revoked or surrendered.
Levine was inspired to write the bill when he heard the story of sexual abuse survivor Marissa Hoechstetter, who was assaulted by her OB/GYN, Robert Hadden, while she was pregnant. In 2016, Hadden plead guilty to multiple sex crimes, and had his medical license suspended as a result.
Even so, Hoechstetter was prevented from having Hadden’s name taken off her twin daughters’ birth certificates. Levine tried to intervene on Hoechstetter’s behalf, but was told that such an action could only be carried out with an order from the State Supreme Court.
With the passage of Levine’s latest bill, that will finally change.
“We can never undo the damage done by abusers who exploit the vulnerability of women in an OB/GYN’s office,” said Levine. “The least we can do is not subject survivors–and their children–to the pain of seeing their abuser’s name on a document as foundational and meaningful as a birth certificate. This legislation is a small but important step towards justice for brave women like Marissa Hoechstetter, and sends a clear signal that our government is here to support survivors in any way we can. I’m glad the administration reversed their position on this bill, and I’m grateful to Speaker Johnson for his support in passing it.”
Hoechstetter was elated to hear about the bill’s passage, stating that she was “overwhelmed with gratitude” for Mr. Levine.
“This bill is the result of a legislator listening directly to victims’ needs and using the government’s power to support us,” said Hoechstetter. “I refuse to leave my abuser’s name on the document marking my children’s birth. I have to carry that pain; they should not. Now, because of Council Member Levine and Speaker Johnson’s commitment to finding a fair solution to an unprecedented yet simple request, I—and others like me—will be able to remove this traumatic reminder from our families’ lives.”