December 8, 2021

Candelight vigil set to honor Ginsburg

Event Thursday in Cortland also will note closure of Jacobus Center

A candlelight vigil Thursday will include 87 seconds of silence to honor 87-year-old Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and to lament the pending closure of Cortland County’s Jacobus Center for Reproductive Health.

Lisa Hoeschele, chief executive officer of Family Counseling Services, is organizing a vigil at 5 p.m. Thursday on the Central Avenue side of Courthouse Park in Cortland for the Supreme Court justice who died Friday. Included in the event will be comments on the center’s closure as they try to persuade county officials to change their minds.

Ginsburg was “a lion when it came to fighting social justice issues pitted against women and others,” Hoeschele said.

“We have a personal connection to Ginsburg because she went to Cornell University for her master’s degree,” said Apryl Beatty of Cortland, a volunteer organizing the event. “She walked on the same streets as us and appreciated the same things we did.”

And she worked for the women’s rights the organizers are championing as they speak out against the decision to close the Jacobus Center.

The Cortland County Health Department announced Sept. 16 it will close the center Sept. 30, a plan originally meant to take months but sped up by the coronavirus pandemic.

“We want to make sure the community is aware of the fact that RBG fought for reproductive health, equality and for choice,” Hoeschele said. “On the same side, the Jacobus Center has done so much work on reproductive health. It’s very important to remind the community as well what we value when it comes to the facility.”

“I think it’s very important to stand up and let the Cortland County Health Department and legislators need to take a second look on what to do long term for the facility instead of actually closing it down,” Beatty said.

Hoeschele, who worked for the Jacobus Center, said the facility was the “cutting edge of teen pregnancy prevention nationally.”

“They provide contraception, STD testing and protection against STDs,” she added. “It’s been a reliable, anonymous service for teens. The loss of that programming would be damaging in the coming years.”

Hoeschele said Cortland Mayor Brian Tobin plans to speak. Organizers also hope to have others speak on how the Jacobus Center helped them.

“There’s a concern for the welfare of the community long term,” Beatty said. “There will also be an onslaught on local health care providers bringing on new patients while being way over-burdened with caring for patients during the pandemic.”