Author: catherine

Voting Third Party? Think Again!

By Charlotte Baron

Third-party voting may seem attractive because candidates can appear as a viable alternative. BUT, at the end of the day, they are not. The United States presidential elections are still a two-party fight, and the cost of a third-party candidate plays directly into the hands of the Republican Party – At least, the Green Party does. Why? Because the Green Party platform is far more closely aligned with that of the Democratic one than the Republican one. As documented by The New York Times, the Republican Party, and some supporters of GOP candidates, support Green Party candidates up and down the ballot so that they can syphon off votes from Democrats.

Four years ago, the Green Party candidate Jill Stein, got votes in Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania that exceeded the margin between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.  Many blame the Green Party for Clinton’s loss, because those voting third party made it possible for Trump to take these states by a very small margin.

The Republican Party has a history of financially supporting the Green Party in efforts to manipulate the outcome of state and federal elections. The 2020 election is no different. A G.O.P. Elections Commissioner from Wisconsin worked, unsuccessfully, to get Howie Hawkins, the Green presidential candidate, on the ballot there. Hawkins has acknowledged Republican aid but, whether out of hubris or plain ignorance, dismissed it as irrelevant. In an interview, Hawkins stated, “I’m aware that some of that’s been done, Republicans collecting signatures for Green Party ballot access. I heard about it after the fact.” Over the summer there were numerous signature collectors from California and Florida working in Pennsylvania to get Hawkins on the ballot. The NYT found that the company sending petitioners to Pittsburgh was brought in by L&R Political Consultants, a company run by Larry Laws who was joined by Tim Mooney. Laws and Mooney worked together in 2004 to get Ralph Nader on the ballot. Trump is polling behind Biden nationwide which may explain why Republican operatives are again funneling resources to the Green Party.

The GOP approach is truly a stealth operation. It is advocating for its candidates while pushing third-party options like Kanye West and Howie Hawkins to take votes away from the Democrats. And in some cases, to such an extreme degree that the third party knows nothing about what is transpiring, like in Florida in 2009, when the Green Party didn’t even know the candidates who got on the ballot.

Voting for a third-party candidate takes away votes from the two major parties; and that can lead to unintended consequences. There are five candidates on the presidential ballot in New York, three of those are third-party candidates. Before you vote, remember Jill Stein in 2016 and Ralph Nader in 2000. Nader won more than 97,000 votes in Florida. This was the race that made history, with less than 600 votes delivering the state, and the presidency, to Bush.

RBG – May Her Memory be a Revolution*

Dear Friends and Allies,

Ruth Bader Ginsburg was the perfect antidote for the time in which we are living; and when she died, the world seemed to stop.

She gave us hope, dreams and the belief we could win. Her life story was inspirational – like the movie we loved to watch, if we couldn’t live it. Married to the person of her dreams, coping with a new family, while going to Harvard and making Law Review – all as she began to change the world. We admired her indomitable spirit and sheer brilliance, packed into a pint-size body; and we drank from her strength to stand up for equal rights and protections for everyone – to speak truth to power.

She was groundbreaking. Women wouldn’t have the rights we have today, if not for RBG’s work. Winning five of the six cases she argued before the US Supreme Court, RBG’s legacy as the nation’s preeminent litigator for women’s rights is indisputable. Her dissenting opinions are legendary.

Let Justice Ginsburg’s words, [my] “most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed”, be our guiding light.

Once we have allowed ourselves to mourn, we must fight like never before. Our biggest take-away from her passing must be WE CAN DO THIS. We must dig down deeper, turning out voters for the November 3rd election, to vote early, in person or by mail.

Help Choice Matters and WCLA PAC put our bright yellow ProChoice Voting Guide into the hands of over 90,000 voters.

According to Jewish tradition, a person who dies on Rosh Hashanah, which began on Friday night, is a Tzadik, a person of great righteousness. The same is true for a person who dies on Shabbat. Ruth Bader Ginsburg managed to do both, amplifying the accuracy of the description and providing the final honor that she so deserved as she left us.

Remember, as we move forward and as RBG said, “Don’t be distracted by emotions like anger, envy, resentment. These just zap energy and waste time.”

Instead: Take Action. Organize. Volunteer. And Donate.

Contributions do make a fundamental difference. Please donate what you can to help us turn out voters. With each dollar donated to Choice Matters and WCLA PAC, you help us get out the vote by putting a voting guide in the hands of a voter – making phone calls to voters, and rides to the polls possible. Every Vote Will Matter.

Join us because together we can move forward.

Thank you,

Enterprise News 

Medication Abortions Under Attack

By Charlotte Baron

Why is Senator Ted Cruz making fact-less attacks on women’s healthcare, again? Cruz is currently under fire from pro-choice advocates after tweeting, “Pregnancy is not a life-threatening illness, and the abortion pill does not cure or prevent any disease.” GOP senators are calling on the Food and Drug Administration to declare Mifeprex, the “abortion pill”, an “imminent hazard to public health”, and to remove it from the market.

Of all developed nations, the United States has the highest mortality rate for pregnant women. According to the CDC, “about 700 women die each year in the United States as a result of pregnancy or delivery complications.” Further, more than 50,000 women have severe and life-threatening pregnancies each year.

In sharp contrast to these numbers, just 24 deaths are attributed to medication abortions in the 20 years since its FDA approval in 2000. That is out of the 3.7 million women in the US have used medication abortion since then. One study done in 2012 found that “women were about 14 times more likely to die during or after giving birth to a live baby than to die from complications of an abortion.” Medication abortions are not harmful and do not put a women’s life at risk.

GOP senators are using the pandemic as an excuse to advance their anti-reproductive healthcare agenda. There is no statistical or scientific evidence to support claims that medication abortions are dangerous. Actually, all data points to exactly the opposite conclusions.

Suzanne Berger – Making History

Dear Pro-Choice friends and allies,

On a typical day, in a typical week, WCLA – Choice Matters and its 2 political action committees would not get involved in party politics. Choice Matters, ProChoice Voter and WCLA PAC are proudly non-partisan.

But these are not typical times. AND, our mission is simple – to advance abortion rights.

Choice Matters and WCLA PAC are proud to support and endorse Suzanne Berger for Chair of the Westchester County Democratic Party Committee – no “ifs,” “ands” or “buts”.

The Chair of a committee steers the ship, determining tenor and course.

Suzanne Berger is literally the ONLY candidate in this race who has demonstrated a true and unwavering commitment to abortion rights and reproductive freedom.

Abortion rights is not just a bullet point on a list or a photo op.  It is not simply attending an event or having a photo snapped with elected officials. Quite the contrary.

Being an abortion rights advocate and an activist  is a fundamental commitment – one that Suzanne Berger has demonstrated over and over again.

Under Suzanne Berger’s leadership, ALL of Greenburgh candidates running for office have been interviewed by Choice Matters to determine whether they are truly committed to a woman’s right to make her own decisions. The interviews and Choice Matters’ respective pro-choice rating have been reported to Greenburgh’s Executive Committee.

Suzanne’s opponent has done none of this.

What does being “pro-choice” mean? It is a phrase thrown around by many because it helps candidates get elected – just like Jeannine Pirro and Robert Castelli did. For Choice Matters, a candidate cannot be “kind of” pro-choice. Just as you cannot be a little pregnant, you cannot be a little pro-choice.

Now, across this nation, we face a reckoning.  Our constitutional rights are being challenged and threatened. And sadly, today, the fight for women’s reproductive freedom is sinking to the bottom of that bushel basket of rights.

This week, Westchester’s Democratic District Leaders have the opportunity to make history by making Suzanne Berger the first elected Woman Chair of the Westchester County Democratic Party Committee.

Suzanne has proven herself a forceful voice for the rights of all – regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, disability, financial fortitude or gender identity.

Please join me in supporting Suzanne Berger for Westchester County Democratic Chair!

Together let’s make history.
Sincerely,
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.