Author: catherine

It’s official – the Reproductive Health Act is Law!

Today, Tuesday, January 22, 2019, on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade,the NYS Assembly and Senate passed the Reproductive Health Act sending it to Governor Andrew Cuomo to sign into law. AND HE DID!

(Please remember that this Trump Administration and Supreme Court are overtly and outspokenly committed to overturning Roe.)

New York – as of today – finally has legislation that takes abortion out of the penal code, that means no longer legislating abortion as homicide, and instead providing women with 21st century medical reproductive health care.

This could not have happened without YOU!

Choice Matters has been working tirelessly to pass this bill since 2006.

However, not until you voted in 2018 to give NYS a pro-choice Senate with a Democratic majority could we make this pro-woman healthcare, pro-woman’s civil rights law a reality.

We thank you for your support and ask you to recognize that we work day in and day out to pass pro-choice legislation to protect your right to Choose. Now we will focus our attention on making sure that NYS has a budget that enables women who live on the financial borderline to actually be able to use this law!

Sincerely,
Choice Matters Staff

40 NYS-Based Organizations Join Choice Matters Demanding Passage of RHA

Groups Call For Immediate Passage Of The RHA
January 2019

We, the undersigned, ask that you vote for the Reproductive Health Act (RHA) of 2019 during this legislative session. The RHA secures and protects our health and reproductive rights by updating New York’s outdated abortion law passed back in 1970, prior to Roe v. Wade.

According to current state law, New York regulates abortion as a homicide in the penal code. The law as it stands fails to meet the constitutional standard of Roe and is out of step with modern medicine. With the Trump administration determined to limit abortion access and a new anti-Roe majority on the Supreme Court, time is of the utmost importance. This is why we ask that you pass the RHA NOW.

The Reproductive Health Act is important because it:

Updates our laws, securing and protecting the right to abortion in New York. The RHA enshrines in state law the constitutional standard of Roe, affirms reproductive freedoms, and allows New Yorkers to get safe and legal abortions.

Protects health care professionals who provide vital care. The RHA ensures that qualified health care providers with appropriate training and expertise can provide abortion services. This improves access to health care, especially for low income women, women of color and women in rural areas.

Treats abortion as health care, not a crime. The RHA moves the regulation of abortion from the penal code into public health law and repeals a Civil War-era law that criminalizes women who terminate a pregnancy without a medical provider.

Nearly eight out of 10 New Yorkers support protecting a woman’s right to have an abortion. Additionally, one in four women will access abortion care in their lifetime. We want to make sure that New York offers the fullest protections when it comes to reproductive health care.

The policies of the Trump administration and the new Supreme Court make it unsafe and irresponsible for New York to rely on federal protections to ensure our basic rights. ​We need state protections, and we expect our elected officials to show real leadership in defending abortion access.

With your support, New York State can be a national leader when it comes to abortion access and the reproductive rights of women. We strongly urge members of both houses of the legislature to support the Reproductive Health Act of 2019.

WCLA – Choice Matters, the oldest ongoing pro-choice advocacy organization in the nation, proudly joins with the following forty (40) New York State-based organizations, together representing thousands upon thousands of NYS residents, to ask NYS Governor Cuomo, the NYS Senate and the NYS Assembly to pass the Reproductive Health Act into law NOW.

WCLA – Choice Matters stands with the following 40 NYS-based Organizations
Action Together – Northern Westchester
American Muslims Indivisible
Briarcliff Ossining Indivisible
CCoHope Indivisible (Cortlandt, Croton-on-Hudson, Ossining, Peekskill)
CD17Indivisible
Coalition New York
Concerned Citizens for Change
Cortlandt Democratic Committee
Croton Democratic Committee
Croton in Action
Greenburgh Democratic Town Committee
Indivisible New Rochelle
Indivisible Pawling
Indivisible Districts 6 & 7
Indivisible New York
Indivisible Rivertowns
Indivisible Scarsdale
Indivisible Westchester
Indivisible Yorktown NY
Irvington Activists
LarchForward
Left of Main Street
Lower Hudson Valley Progressive Action Network
March on Peekskill
New York Progressive Action Network
Northern Westchester Indivisible
Philipstown Women Are Watching
Progressive Women of New York
Progressive Women of Pelham
Putnam Progressives
Rockland Citizens Action Network
Rockland United
Up2Us
Uptown Progressive Action
WE PERSIST
Westchester Black Political Conference
Westchester Black Women’s Political Caucus
Westchester for Change
Westchester Young Democrats
Westchester Women’s Democratic Alliance

“After 242 years, a woman is in charge of the State Senate”*

On Wednesday, January 8th, Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins was voted Senate Temporary President and Majority Leader by her colleagues.

This is the official end of the “3-men-in-a-room” NYS governing process!

AND – In the newly-elected NYS Senate, now 20 of the 63-member body are women – (Still not an accurate reflection of the State’s gender make-up but a heck of a lot better!)

The changing demographics of New York State are more clearly reflected by this Senate body than any before it. Among the newly-elected senators are the first Muslim, first Iranian American, first Chinese America, first Salvadoran American, first Costa Rican American, first Indian American and two Colombian Americans.

And in the NYS Assembly, For The First Time EVER

For the first time in the State’s history, a woman, Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes of Buffalo, was named Assembly Majority Leader. Surrounding Assemblywoman Peoples-Stokes were 50 women which is a record number for the Assembly.

Approximately 32% of those serving in the NYS Senate and Assembly in 2019 are women. Nevada has the highest percentage in the country of women serving in its State legislature, with 51% being women.

Assembly Majority Leader, Assemblywoman Peoples-Stokes said, “I’m not sure I can put into words how insurmountable I think the significance of this day is. It’s exciting. It’s to some extent overwhelming. It’s humbling.”

Governor Cuomo did not attend the opening session of either the NYS Senate or the NYS Assembly.

*For more information, read The Buffalo News, After 242 Years, a woman is in charge of the State Senate.

Witness Herstory in Albany!

Herstory in the Making!

Join us on Wednesday, January 9th, to witness the swearing-in of NYS Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins to be the Majority Leader of the New York State Senate. (The Westchester Black Women’s Political Caucus has a bus going to Albany. Click here for Details.)

Senator Stewart-Cousins will be the first female Majority Leader in the her-history of the New York State Senate.

Senator Stewart-Cousins will also be making her-history as the first female leader of either house in Albany.

Senator Stewart-Cousins’ historic mark is as an African-American woman assuming the mantle of a position until now only held by men.

With the support of the voters of NYS, Senator Stewart-Cousins is putting an end to “three men in a room”!

AND this could not happen at a more important time!

We are returning to the time of total states’ rights which means that the individual states will determine whether abortion is illegal, or not.

Congratulations to Majority Leader Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins and to the voters of NYS!

Onward!

Judges

The role personal perspective plays in judicial decisions is seismic, in all courts and at all levels – not just the US Supreme Court. Personal opinions do matter. Temperament, previous decisions and prior actions tell exactly what kind of judge a candidate will be. Personal bias affects how a judge treats those who come before her/him, the sentence imposed, the bail required, and more.

That is exactly why Donald Trump has been appointing only judges who the ultra-reactionary Federalist Society selects.

Every time you vote for judicial candidates, you are voting for someone with a personal history. That is exactly why WCLA – Choice Matters and WCLA PAC interview each judicial nominee, and if the nominee refuses to be interviewed, we rate accordingly. If someone wants to serve in the courts, we all need to know more. Saying, “I will follow the law” or “it is established law” generally means that the candidate does not want to share his/her view with you.

Just imagine the impact a judge’s view on reproductive rights can have in a state that requires parental notification/consent. To avoid informing her parent(s), a minor may apply for a judicial bypass, which means a judge can allow the girl to terminate the pregnancy if she/he deems the girl mature and capable of making the decision. If the judge is anti-choice, what are the chances he/she will permit the abortion? They can outright deny the abortion or simply draw out the decision until the window for a termination has passed. In Alabama, some judges even appoint an attorney to represent the fetus.

This year, for NYS Supreme Court Justices in the 9th Judicial District (Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, and Westchester Counties) you can choose to vote for 6 qualified attorneys who have experience and great understanding of the issues confronting women and their families, or you can vote for their anti-choice opponents. Use your vote wisely.

~ In Memorium ~ Let’s Take a Page Out of Their Books

Two amazing Westchester women passed away in the past 6 months, Renata Schwebel and Marcy (Marcella) Kahn.

I want you to know their names because, like so many other women of their generation, they did not receive the recognition they deserved. Renata and Marcy  committed themselves unequivocally to education, the arts, politics and women’s reproductive rights – and they helped change the face of Westchester.

Marcy, as an active member of the Westchester League of Women Voters, pressed for reapportionment. They fought for the application of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1964 “one-person, one-vote ” decision, and won in 1969, when the state Court of Appeals upheld their governance plan. They moved the County from a government by a Board of Supervisors to one governed by a Board of Legislators.

Renata and Marcy did not have to be asked to take action; they did what was needed  because they were driven to act.

Both of these women also made significant annual donations to WCLA PAC because they knew the power of our Bright Yellow ProChoice Voting Guide and its impact at the voting booths. They knew that if you cannot control your own body, you have nothing.

While it is always a struggle, without their contributions this year, we will come up short.  We need your help and we need it now.

We have two asks of you:
1. Please  Donate to WCLAPAC.org today.
2. And going forward, in honor of these two women, and all of those who fought for our rightsdon’t wait to be asked – ACT!

Below are links about Marcy Kahn and Renata Schwebel and the history of the districting of Westchester County.

Thank you for your generosity.
Onward,
Catherine

p.s. A special thanks to Jean Pollak who was President of the Westchester League of Women Voters at the time.
Marcy Kahn
Renata Schwebel
Westchester Districting

As We Move Forward, DEMAND Change!

by Catherine Lederer-Plaskett
President/Chair of the Board

The successful appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court is more than disturbing.  Survivors from all over the country spoke out and millions called, protested, and marched. Chief Justice Roberts received numerous misconduct complaints against Kavanaugh from the DC Court of Appeals, which Roberts has refused to investigate. Kavanaugh lied under oath to the US Senate. The so-called FBI investigation refused to interview the many who offered credible information. And during his own testimony, Kavanaugh showed that he does not have the temperament for the job. But still, the Senate voted to confirm him.

This is not the first time this group of white old men rammed a candidate onto the Supreme Court, and unless we work smart it will not be the last.

  1. Susan Collins is proof of a Choice Matters’ mantra: If being pro-choice is not at the top of a candidate’s agenda, not one of the top five issues, that person is of NO USE TO WOMEN. We will not support you. We will not tolerate lip service. Collins’ false narrative that she’s pro-choice and pro-woman has been exposed. The IDC members made the same false claims and we ousted 6 of them in the September Primary. Now it’s time to take Collins out. She’s up for re-election in 2020. We must be ready to work starting November 7th.
  2. Unbelievable as it may seem, many women took this personally – not as surviviors but as the mothers of sons. They bought Trump’s narative that it is a horrible time for men. Some of these very women identify as “progressives” but still they blame the “girls”. As a sexual assault victim and the mother of 2 sons – 2 black sons – the population most likely to be falsely accused of any crime, I trust my sons AND  I believe women.  People need to take responsibility for their actions, and that includes how we raise our children. And,
  3. Holding up a mirror. Democrats are guilty of some of the same behavior for which they attack Republicans. In Westchester, the top elected offices are all held by men, and both political parties are lead by men. It is time for this to change, and women must demand it!

20-Week Abortion Bans

By Estella Johnson

The 20-week abortion ban is targeted at older women who are more likely to have pregnancies complicated by fetal anomalies. Women who have an amniocentesis to determine the health of the fetus would no longer be able to use the results as the tests can first be done at 17-18 weeks and take two weeks to complete, placing a woman beyond the 20 week deadline. https://choicematters.org/2017/10/06/20-week-abortion…o-big-deal-think/

This article gives a little background on 20-week bans and lists examples of those bans in the country as of September 12th, 2018. https://rewire.news/legislative-tracker/law-topic/20-week-bans/

This article by The Guttmacher Institute talks a bit about the background of abortion rights in this country, highlights current law around the issue.  https://www.guttmacher.org/state-policy/explore/state-policies-later-abortions

This article by the NYT talks about the proposed bill to ban abortions after 20 weeks that recently failed in the US Senate.  https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/29/us/politics/senate-abortion-ban-20-weeks.html

6-Week Abortion Bans

By Estella Johnson

In 2013, the North Dakota State Senate approved a bill that would ban abortions if a fetal heartbeat can be detected- something that usually occurs around six weeks into a pregnancy.  This law in theory would ban almost all abortions. Many women do not know until much later in a pregnancy that they are pregnant at all. Under this bill, women seeking abortions would not face criminal charges; however, doctor’s caught performing abortions after a heartbeat is detected could face five years in prison and a $5,000 fine. Pro-choice advocates in North Dakota suspect this bill is an attempt to close the only remaining abortion clinic in the state, which is located in Fargo. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/north-dakota-senate-approves-6-week-abortion-ban/

In 2015 the 8th circuit court of appeals struck down the North Dakota 6-week abortion ban. According to the court, the ban violated the Supreme Court precedent that makes abortion legal until the fetus is viable outside the womb (usually around 24 weeks).https://www.politico.com/story/2015/07/north-dakota-abortion-ban-120467

In 2016, the Supreme Court decided to not review the case, permanently blocking North Dakota’s fetal heartbeat law.  https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2016/01/25/464311731/supreme-court-rejects-north-dakota-s-bid-to-save-strict-abortion-law

Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds plans to sign a bill to ban abortion after 6 weeks. The ACLU has already stated that it plans to sue if the law gets signed.  https://www.pbs.org/newshour/politics/iowa-governor-says-shell-sign-6-week-abortion-ban-into-law

An Iowa judge temporarily blocked the 6-week ban from going into effect until a lawsuit brought forth by Planned Parenthood and the Iowa branch of the ACLU is resolved.  https://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/390241-judge-temporarily-blocks-iowas-six-week-abortion-ban

Intent of 6-Week Abortion Bans

By Estella Johnson

This group of articles, in the bulleted posts below, discusses one of the most blatant attacks on a woman’s right to choose: the six-week ban, also known as the heartbeat bill. These bills—which several states have tried to establish as law in the past decade— would make abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected illegal. Detection of a heartbeat can typically occur as early as six weeks. This is so early in a pregnancy that many women do not even realize that they are pregnant. For this reason, these six weeks bans are effectively a ban on all abortions. The articles in this section focus specifically on attempts to implement six week bans in the states of Iowa and North Dakota. Although the North Dakota ban has now been permanently blocked by the courts, the fight to keep abortion legal in Iowa continues.