Author: catherine

Join us – Honor Assemblywoman Amy Paulin

On Saturday, June 22nd, we will honor an outstanding Assemblymember, Amy Paulin,
(NYS Assembly District #88.)

Assemblywoman Amy Paulin is a champion for women. She has been a prolific legislator, with more than 200 of her own bills being signed into law. Her diverse legislative agenda includes state government reform, children and families, domestic violence, sex trafficking, education, health care, animal welfare, and preventing gun violence.

Amy’s distinguished record of activism in public policy and community issues before being elected to the Assembly has helped make her the outstanding elected official she is today.  Amy has served as Executive Director of My Sisters’ Place, Founder and Chairwoman of Westchester Women’s Agenda, President of Westchester League of Women Voters, Vice President of NY State League of Women Voters, Citizen Member of County Board of Legislators’ Special Committee on Families, and as a Member of the Board of Directors of WCLA – Choice Matters! What a launching pad for women’s issues!

Choice Matters and the community of advocates and activists are particularly excited by Amy’s writing and sponsoring of the bill that eliminated the statute of limitations for rape, and sponsoring the landmark Trafficking Victims Protection and Justice Act to dramatically toughen penalties for traffickers and buyers while providing support to the victims of human trafficking to help rebuild their lives. (Click here to read a partial list of Amy’s Bills.)

Choice Matters & WCLA PAC Take on HATE GROUP FOF

May 4th, Choice Matters and WCLA PAC joined forces with NYC for Abortion Rights at Bryant Park and then with a march to Time Square. We stood up and said, “NO” to the homophobic anti-abortion hate group Focus on the Family. They are here to generate extremist reactions to the Reproductive Health Act, and we are here to say, “Not in our city, not in our State – NOT NOW, NOT EVER.”

And We Were In Somers!

On May 2nd, Choice Matters and WCLA PAC showed up at the Somers Town Board meeting to make sure pro-choice voices were heard. We thanked the Town Board for refusing to entertain a resolution opposing the Reproductive Health Act that Carmel and the Putnam County Legislature had passed in April.

Thank you to the handmaids who came out, representing the chattel from the Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.

Speak Up – Speak Out! Women’s lives depend on it.

Is IDC behavior back in style?

After the IDC (Independent Democratic Conference) we all swore not to be fooled again. No matter whether there was a “D”,  “R” or “WFP” after the name, we were going to watch the actions, instead of simply listening to the words.

Choice Matters has been doing exactly that – and, unfortunately, our findings are not good.

1. Westchester County Government solicited and accepted a Trump Administration HHS grant for abstinence-only education targeted at the most vulnerable – teens – mostly of color, living below the poverty line & designated as “high risk.”  That’s a huge problem. We are balancing our budget on the backs of the most vulnerable, and we are doing it with lies and half-truths.

Choice Matters successfully got the County to reject the abstinence-only, anti-gay intervention curriculum provider but they are still taking the grant money. Choice Matters will work with the County to find a viable curriculum provider who will provide comprehensive sex education. If we cannot, we must demand that the County return the grant.

3.  Another man – this time a Westchester County Democratic leader – told a room full of Democratic committee chairs to ignore whether Choice Matters rates a candidate as pro-choice or anti-choice. Why? Because he does not want his Democratic candidates who are anti-choice to be adversely impacted. He clearly thinks the “D” is more important than women’s constitutional rights.

4. A male candidate for County Court judge lambasted Choice Matters for rating him anti-choice, after all he said he was “pro-choice.” Then he went on to make our point for us by coming out in total opposition to minors’ rights. This candidate has no place on the Bench.

There is no more important an office than that of judge. Choice Matters is the only organization that interviews and rates judicial candidates.

Choice Matters is your feet on the ground. Please contribute today.

Oh, and fyi – let’s not forget the male presidential contender who entered the Democratic field two weeks ago. He thinks campaigning for anti-choice candidates is fine – even those who have a track record of co-sponsoring bills to restrict abortion rights. According to this presidential candidate, “…you can’t exclude people who disagree with us on one issue.”

Really??? Women’s reproductive right is just one issue?? According to the Roe v. Wade decision, that one issue is a woman’s constitutional right. Maybe this candidate is willing to forfeit other constitutional rights, maybe those protecting People of Color or LGBTQ folks. Or is it only women’s rights that are expendable?

When you are playing fast and loose with constitutional rights, you never know what might go next! 

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