Author: catherine

Faith-Based Healthcare – NYC Field Hospital Run by Evangelical Christians

By Charlotte Baron

With the overwhelming number of people affected by COVID-19, a field hospital set up and run by Samaritan’s Purse opened in Central Park on April 1st. Samaritan’s Purse is an Evangelical Christian fundamentalist group. They require all persons working in the facility to swear allegiance to their doctrine.

This organization’s leader, Franklin Graham, is openly anti-LGBTQ+, anti-abortion and Islamophobic. Graham has specifically sought out “Christian” medical staff, and he makes everyone follow a statement of faith; one of the statements expresses that the volunteers must commit to is that marriage is between a man and women: “We believe God’s plan for human sexuality is to be expressed only within the context of marriage, that God created man and woman as unique biological persons made to complete each other.” Another one expresses the opposition to abortion, “We believe that human life is sacred from conception to its natural end; and that we must have concern for the physical and spiritual needs of our fellowmen.” Graham has previously stated that “Satan is behind same-sex marriage”. He has also described Islam as “wicked and evil.” Many New York City citizens are concerned that their medical care will be compromised because of the organization’s views.

When the Mayor’s office was asked about the impact this organization’s ideology would have on incoming patients that might not fit this extremist Evangelical criteria, a spokesperson said that “the field hospital will operate as a Mount Sinai facility, and must adhere to the hospital’s policy against discrimination.” DeBlasio also stated that the City would be keeping a close eye on Samaritan’s Purse. He assured everyone that the group would be acting in a way  “truly consistent with the values and the laws of New York City.”

Despite DeBlasio’s initial claims that the field hospital would be operated jointly with Mount Sinai Hospital, that is not the case. The medical center will be providing patients but no oversight, and will rely on a pledge to treat patients equally.

It seems clear from medical professionals rejected by the organization because of their refusal to sign why Samaritan’s Purse would not comment on whether they would accept help from non-Christians or those who do not commit to follow their statements of faith. Samaritan’s Purse’s actions are extremely alarming. They appear to be politicizing healthcare, which according to a Mount Sinai emergency room doctor is “exactly what this organization is about.” Jacklyn Grace Lacey who is a medical anthropologist who has closely followed how the organization has “helped” in other crises has said, “This is a dangerous religious propaganda machine that uses international medical aid to further their agenda.” If the city does not closely monitor this organization, the results could be detrimental for hundreds of New Yorkers.

Another Possible Victim of the COVID-19

By Charlotte Baron

Sexual Education in New York – another casualty.

New York State is one of the 21 states that do not mandate that sexual education (sex ed) be part of the required academic curriculum. Despite New York State’s image as a progressive bastion, there are no state standards – not even regarding birth control, std’s or simply saying “no”.  2020 was supposed to be the year that changed, with the passage of comprehensive legislation requiring age-appropriate sexual education instruction from K-12. But, now, with the coronavirus, budgetary challenges, and the rest of the legislative session in question, the young people of New York State may very well be forced to wait again.

According to the New York Civil Liberties Union ,  “Many public schools across New York provide sex-ed curriculum that is inaccurate, incomplete, and stigmatizing.” Other schools provide nothing. Much of the current curriculum fails to include education on sexually transmitted disease and LGBTQ+ students are often stigmatized or ignored completely. However, New York does have mandated HIV education, which may seem like a good thing but, in reality, isn’t because it is not required to be medically accurate. This can end up being more harmful than helpful. For example, in a local Westchester middle school,  the gym teacher assigned to teach about HIV told students they could contract it from sweat. Not since 1991, when Magic Johnson announced that he had contracted HIV, has such absolute unscientific mis-information been on such public display – and this was in an academic institution students are required to attend.

Sex ed is an extremely important and valuable subject that should be mandated in all schools. Research done by the Public Library of Science shows “that when sex education is comprehensive, students feel more informed, make safer choices and have healthier outcomes — resulting in fewer unplanned pregnancies and more protection against sexually transmitted diseases and infection.” Having sex ed taught in school gives students the ability to get clear concise answers to any questions they may have, instead of relying on the internet which can provide incorrect and confusing information, or parents who may be too self-conscious or ill-informed. A curriculum, which the teachers must follow,  alleviates any discrepancies between medical facts and individual opinions.  The Journal of Adolescent Health published research that found “that when sex education included information about contraception, teens had a lower risk of pregnancy than adolescents who received abstinence-only or no sex education.”

New York’s Senator Jen Metzger and Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan have sponsored proposed legislation  S4884/A6512 respectively which would make age-appropriate comprehensive sexuality education required teaching in NYS schools. The bill would require “comprehensive sexuality instruction for students in grades K-12 which addresses age and developmentally appropriate physical, mental, emotional and social dimensions of human sexuality and reflects the national sexuality education standards.” The bill was introduced to the New York State Senate in March of 2019 and since then has been moved to the Education Committee. It has yet to be passed by the Senate or the Assembly. The success of this legislation rests not only on its passage but also on adequate funding for implementation. Unfortunately, 2020 may not be the year that students in New York State receive quality and informative sex ed.

NO IDC in DC – The Action!

Grassroots activists have joined with ProChoice Voter, our federal political action committee, to  ask voters to join together to reject the candidacy in the NYS CD 17 Democratic Primary of IDC Co-Founder David Carlucci. (Please sign on to this letter by clicking here.)

Congresswoman Nita Lowey is not running for re-election and there are several highly qualified candidates running in the Democratic Party Primary to succeed her.  The IDC (Independent Democratic Conference) Co-Founder is definitively NOT one of them.

>As a founding IDC member, from his first day in office, David Carlucci aligned himself with the NYS Senate Republican Caucus and successfully blocked crucial legislation that the Senate Democratic Caucus tried to pass, including, but not limited to: the Reproductive Health Act, Comprehensive Contraception Coverage Act, Extreme Risk Protection Order Act, Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act, Comprehensive Contraception Coverage Act, NY Liberty Act, Dream Act, Early Voting, Climate and Community Protection Act, Full Funding for our Schools, Fair Pay Act, an initiative to appoint a monitor with veto power in the East Ramapo School District, and the Child Victim’s Act.

>His record proves that he is an opportunist; that “getting things done” means betraying Democratic principles, and that lying to his constituents about his role in the IDC was his modus operandi. From the very first day he took office in January 2011, he deceived the voters in his district and continued to do so for almost 8 years. He ran for office as a Democrat but sat with the IDC and enabled the NYS Republicans to control the NYS Senate. He also helped draw some of the most gerrymandered districts in the nation, effectively working to ensure Republican control of the Senate.

Not until after the IDC was forced to dissolve and 6 of the 8 its members were voted out of office in November 2018 did this candidate join the NYS Senate Democratic Caucus – all the while deceiving his constituents about his allegiances.

>Now he is asking Democrats to trust him with a seat in CongressCarlucci didn’t fight for his constituents in the New York State Senate; he cannot be trusted to fight for his constituents in Congress. His years of betrayal to the voters cannot be forgotten.

Join together with these activists in rejecting the candidacy of IDC Co-Founder, David Carlucci, in the NYS CD 17 Democratic Primary.

You can add your name to reject his candidacy by click here, or by emailing our coalition. If you are signing on behalf of an organization, email your logo, if you have one, to NoIDCinDC@gmail.com (Individuals as well as organizations are welcome to sign.) For more information and/or to volunteer, please email: NoIDCinDC@gmail.com

Call to Action-HELP Minors in Post Sexual Assault Circumstances

We need your help.  An important bill that allows minors in post sexual assault circumstances to consent to the full course of HIV preventive medicine is at risk of veto in Albany.

THE ACTION: (by Monday morning)
Please contact the Governor’s office and urge the Governor to sign this bill, A.1204-A (Peoples-Stokes) / S.2279-A (Hoylman).

THE MESSAGE:
Please tell Governor Cuomo:
>We need Governor Cuomo to sign Bill A.1204-A (Peoples-Stokes) / S.2279-A (Hoylman).
>Minors in post sexual assault circumstances need Governor Cuomo’s help.
>These minors need to be able consent to the full course of HIV preventive medicine
>They have already been the victims of sexual assault. Let’s Help Them, not victimize them again!
>Sign Bill A.1204-A (Peoples-Stokes) / S.2279-A (Hoylman).
>The budget should not be balanced on the backs of sexual assault victims!
Remember to tell them your name and if you are with an activist organization, the name of the group. Please add this information to your emails also.
(The greater our number the more powerful we become!)

PLEASE EMAIL the message above to the following people, AND ALSO CALL: (518) 474-8390, and tell them
Chief Counsel Elizabeth Garvey  at Elizabeth.garvey@exec.ny.gov
Executive Counsel Jill Starishevsky directly working on this bill at Jill.Starishevsky@exec.ny.gov.
Director of Women’s Affairs Emily Kadar at Emily.Kadar@exec.ny.gov
Counsel Rebecca Wood at Rebecca.Wood@exec.ny.gov

Click here to read more about the bill.

I believe that you can only veto a bill that allows minors in post sexual assault circumstances lifesaving treatment if you think no one is watching. And while the executive has stated concern about the fiscal impact, they have the ability to keep the status quo on the fiscal cap through chapter amendments.

I urge you to make your voice heard here.
These minors need our help.
Thank you.

Tuesday was a GREAT Day!

You Did It! You came out and voted, bringing your friends and relatives to Early Voting and on General Election Day, November 5th! And on behalf of Choice Matters, WCLA PAC & pro-choice voters everywhere, thank you for that!

November 5th was a good day for Westchester County. After thousands of phone calls, distributing tens of thousands of our bight yellow ProChoice Voting Guide and door-knocking, we have elected 13 pro-choice County legislators. Our endorsed candidates won in all 6 contested County legislative races. We now have a pro-choice super majority on the Westchester County Board of Legislators. We also have a pro-choice majority on the New Castle Town Board!

Also, In The BIG News Column, Virginia elected a government that, with more hard work, should pass a Virginian Reproductive Health Act! And Kentucky elected a pro-choice governor! 

PLEASE enjoy today and our successes because tomorrow we must work! 2020 is finally here. There will be no time to waste.  The election will not only be about defeating Donald Trump. It will be about protecting the gains we made in 2018. 

We must turn our attention to accessibility and reproductive inequities. ALL women must have access to comprehensive reproductive healthcare regardless of their economic abilities and geographic locations, because legal does not mean accessible.

Unite to fight. For our rights.

On My Mind

We know Judges matters. They decide everything – our constitutional rights, malpractice judgements, divorces, white collar settlements, everything! So why aren’t we paying attention and demanding more control?

If Trump has done nothing else, he has made crystal clear how very important judges are! Trump has already appointed 2 Supreme Court Justices and 150+ right-wing, ultra-conservative, anti-choice judges, many of whom have been rated “unqualified”, who will change the face of our legal system for decades to come.

But it’s not just Trump. Here in Westchester, one could argue that judicial ethics rules are not truly ethical or impartial or even constitutional.

 Just this election cycle, the Subcommittee Chair of the Judicial Campaign Ethics Subcommittee, Advisory Committee, told judicial candidates they could not accept WCLA PAC’s endorsement. The reasons provided reference our endorsement policy but do so INCORRECTLY. Judicial candidates do not complete questionnaires nor are they asked to support anything that may require going against any law. The only accurate reference is that a candidate may “neither seek nor accept the Right to Life Party (RTL) nomination” – And that criteria seems justifiable because candidates are permitted to accept the RTL Party line, thereby making their opposition to abortion clear.

One must, therefore, ask, “Was this gross misrepresentation intentional or accidental?” Hmmm. Let’s consider these important facts: the Subcommittee Chair who issued this opinion: 1.) ran for Supreme Court 9th Judicial District in 2011 on the Republican and Conservative lines (the same year the Conservative Party and the Right to Life Party joined forces here in Westchester); 2.) was rated “anti-choice” by us, and 3.) then LOST the election. One can only wonder what this Subcommittee Chair’s motivations may be.

Here in New York State, judicial candidates often fear interviews, claiming that the NYS Ethics rules prohibit them from expressing their views on contentious issues like abortion. The rules they reference are in direct opposition to the 2002 US Supreme Court decision Republican Party of Minnesota vs White. In the 5 – 4 decision, the US Supreme Court ruled that Minnesota’s clause, which “forbade judicial candidates from announcing their views on disputed legal and political issues”, was unconstitutional. Why are NYS judicial candidates still being held to a pre-2002 standard? In all my years here, I’ve met only one judicial candidate willing to challenge that NYS Ethics position and, perhaps, it’s no surprise that he did not get his Party’s nod to run.

On another judicial note: our NYS Chief Justice is seeking to “streamline” the judicial system. Sounds great and in some ways is much needed, but the devil is in the details. The claim is that we don’t have enough justices where we need them. The proposed solution is to get rid of specific categories of judges including County, Court of Claims, Surrogate’s Court and Family Court. Instead, they will all be “Supreme Court” judges and can be moved around where needed.

Sounds good? Not necessarily. For example, take Family Court. Family Court requires a certain type of personality and commitment. The same person hearing white collar crime cases should not be deciding a custody battle. Who will decide which judge serves where and based upon what criteria? Will the decision be based simply on where a judge is needed? Does this mean that judges elected in northern NYS will be sitting on the bench in Westchester? Will we even still be electing judges or will they all be appointed?

The role personal perspective plays in judicial decisions is seismic, in all courts and at all levels. Personal opinions and biases affect how a judge treats those who come before her/ him/they, the sentence imposed, the bail required, and more.

Yes, the present system is flawed and cumbersome but it’s a lot better than appointments and what we are witnessing in Washington DC. We need a better system for electing judges, not simply replacing it.

Every time you vote for judicial candidates, you are voting for someone with a personal history. That is exactly why WCLA – Choice Matters interviews each judicial nominee and if the nominee refuses to be interviewed, we rate accordingly, as we always have. If someone wants to serve in the courts, we are all entitled to know more, as the US Supreme Court ruled in 2002.

The Story of Pirro & Why Choice Matters’ Questionnaire Matters

Did you know that Jeanine Pirro – presently the Fox News commentator, Trumper & star of Justice with Judge Jeanine – was endorsed by ALL the national and NY statewide pro-choice advocacy groups which helped her win 3 terms as Westchester County District Attorney???

And did you know it was WCLA – Choice Matters’ REQUIREMENT that ALL candidates – incumbents AND challengers – submit completed questionnaires in each election cycle that made it possible for WCLA – Choice Matters  to expose Pirro’s change in position???

In 2001, Pirro’s 3rd race for Westchester DA, we rated her Anti-Choice for the first time as a direct result of the changes in her questionnaire. Unfortunately, other organizations did not reexamine her positions until 2005. The excitement over having the first woman serve as Westchester County DA had created a buzz that basically permitted many to give Pirro a pass as the incumbent, and allowed her to label herself “pro-choice” when, in fact, her position had changed.

2001 ProChoice Voting Guide, Castro article page1 continued on page 6.

2005 New York Time Article.

Since our formation 47 years ago, WCLA – Choice Matters has made our policy perfectly clear to every candidate: submit a questionnaire or you will be rated “Anti-Choice”. No “if’s” “and’s” or “but’s”. The same is true for judicial candidate interviews. NO exceptions. We also go out of our way, often having to reach out numerous times to candidates, to remind them of the due date so that their questionnaires are submitted timely, and stating clearly that if one is not submitted, they will be rated as Anti-Choice. To reiterate, that is not a threat; it has always been our official policy.

Why are we so strict? Because candidates and issues change.

  • It stops anti-choice candidates from avoiding the issue;
  • It educates previously endorsed candidates on the many changes and challenges that have sprung up front-and-center since the last election, like the 20-week abortion ban, the RHA, and the “heartbeat” bills; and
  • It exposes those candidates who have changed their position on Choice but don’t want to tell you.

    Our questionnaires are our contract with the candidate and we treat it exactly that way. It isn’t enough to say “I’m pro-choice”. Incumbents receive the same scrutiny as challengers by WCLA – Choice Matters.

    We hold EVERY SINGLE candidate to the same standard, regardless of gender, party affiliation, or any other way one might identify. NO EXCEPTIONS.

    And we will continue this practice, even when facing threats from candidates and/or elected officials, because it is the only way to protect CHOICE. Just remember Jeanine.

Early Voting – New York State 2019

In January 2019 , New York state lawmakers approved reforms  intended to make it easier to vote, including giving voters 10 days of early access to the ballot box prior to Election Day. The November 2019 elections will be the first to offer early voting in New York State.

Early Voting Begins on Saturday, October 26, 2019, in Westchester County.

Click here to read information provided by the Westchester County Board of Election: Frequently Asked Questions and 2019 Early Voting Polling Locations.

These two links provide a list the 2019 early voting locations in Westchester County as well as responses to frequently asked questions about this new effort. For more information, please call: 914-995-5700.

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.)

The HATE GROUP FOF in Times Square

May 4th, some of us 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.”