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Tuesday, June 9, 2015

A letter sent to all NY Assmeblymembers and State Senators RE: ​NY State Restroom Access Act - The Ally's Law

Dear Honorable...
 
I am the founder and executive director of the ‘Jewish Crohn’s & Colitis Support Group’ (JCCSG) non-profit organization. Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are chronic gastrointestinal tract diseases, which are collectively known as the Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD). IBD causes inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract, most commonly in the small intestine and colon, which causes severe abdominal pain, fever, diarrhea, and bleeding. People who suffer from it often require immediate restroom use, and are at risk of developing anemia, liver disease, and colon cancer, among other fatal diseases.

On behalf of the members of our organization, I am humbly asking that your honor support the law
A.277, sponsored by Assemblywoman Amy Paulin (88th District), as well as the law S.4918, sponsored by Senator Kemp Hannon (6th District), the chairman of Senate committee on Health. This bill will require retail establishments that have public toilet facilities for their employees to also allow customers to use the facilities, if the customer suffers from an inflammatory bowel disease or other medical condition requiring immediate access to a toilet.

The “Crohn’s and Colitis Fairness Act” is also known as “
Ally’s Law,” named after Ally Bain. In 2005, Ally was a 14 year old girl from Illinois, suffering from Crohn's disease, who had a very unpleasant experience. She had gone shopping at a national clothing store with her mother, when she suddenly had an urge to use the bathroom. The public restroom was unavailable at the moment, and she asked to use the employee restroom but was denied access. As a result, poor Ally soiled herself. One can imagine the embarrassment and distress she felt. Ally vowed to dedicate her life to prevent this from happening again - to her or to anyone in a similar condition.

With the support of her family, friends, and her Illinois State Representative, Ally got a law passed in her state that requires businesses to make employee-only restrooms available to people with Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and other medical conditions that require immediate use of a toilet facility. Since then, the “Crohn’s and Colitis Fairness Act” law has been introduced and passed, largely by grassroots efforts, in the following 14 states: Colorado, Connecticut, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin, and Washington. Several more states are now in the process of passing this bill, and there is support to propose a federal version of the same act.

The Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA) estimates that 1.6 million American children, teenagers, and adults are suffering from IBD, including over 104,000 people in the state of New York. Inflammatory Bowel Diseases are currently incurable, and they are nationally recognized as substantial handicaps; Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are considered disabilities under the “Americans with Disabilities Act Amendment Act of 2008.”

If and when “The Crohn’s and Colitis Fairness Act” will pass in New York, it will be an immense relief for the over a hundred thousand New Yorkers who are suffering from this condition, who, in addition to being subject to chronic pain and emotional distress, find themselves in unpleasant and distressful situations when they are in public places and need to use the bathroom immediately.

As a sufferer from IBD, I have first-hand experience of the hardships that the patients of IBD go through. I am forced to schedule my day around the availability of restrooms. Every business trip or family vacation revolves around my condition. I experience unimaginable physical and emotional pain every time I am rejected usage of employees’ restrooms in public places. I therefor urge you the passage of A.277 and S.4918 this legislative session which would vastly improve my life and the lives of many others.

Respectfully,
Yoely Drummer
Founder & Executive Director
עול"ם - JCCSG Inc.
Jewish Crohn's & Colitis Support Group ~ עזרה וחיזוק לחולי מעיים

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