Author: Choicematters

Let anger be the wind in your sails

Bruised, Beaten, Distraught But Not DEFEATED. WE GET UP AGAIN.

Yes, survivors from all over the country spoke out and millions of Americans called, protested, and marched. But still, two key senators committed to voting to confirm Brett Kavanaugh, basically assuring his place on the Supreme Court.

Yes, Kavanaugh lied under oath. He lied about sexual assault. He lied about overturning Roe v. Wade. He lied about his determination to find against requiring insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions. And tomorrow, they will confirm him anyway.

Yes, we are despairing. But more importantly, We Are Angry- and that anger will take us farther, to the place we must go to win.
The women of New York deserve nothing less.

We’re organizing – stand up for the rights of women, survivors, and everyone else under attack by Donald Trump and Brett Kavanaugh.

Women all across the country came forward to courageously share their stories.

Together, we said “HEAR ME.” We said “LOOK AT ME.” And we said NO to Brett Kavanaugh.

Today Susan Collins and Joe Manchin committed to voting “YES” for Brett Kavanaugh, and therewith we fell short of the votes we needed to stop Kavanaugh.

But that defeat will feed us. Our power – the power of our movement has grown and will continue to grow–and this November we will storm the polls and show the politicians what our power can do – WE WILL VOTE!

Brett Kavanaugh is a lying sexual assaulter and extreme right-wing political hack. His horrific confirmation to the Supreme Court gives us all the power to put our fury to work.

>The president of the United States openly mocked survivor Dr. Christine Blasey Ford.

>Only one Senate Republican seemed to care about us.

>The FBI investigation was a total sham.

We must channel our fury and use it to drive voters to the polls all over New York State.

We can make New York State a Reproductive Rights sanctuary so that women cannot be ignored. Not Here. Not Now. Not Ever.

Tell Sen. Collins & Murkowski to Demand an FBI Investigation!

Tell Senators Susan Collins & Lisa Murkowski NOT to repeat the Anita Hill Debacle.

They MUST DEMAND an FBI investigation! 

There MUST be a Full and Fair Hearing by the Senate Judiciary Committee – Starting with an investigation by the FBI.

THE FACTS:
Professor Christine Blasey Ford bravely came forward and identified herself as the survivor of a sexual assault by Brett Kavanaugh.

Dr. Ford courageously told the world how Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh attacked her, pinning her down on a bed, while groping her and grinding his body against her, and trying to rip her clothes off. When she tried to scream out for help Kavanaugh covered mouth. One of Kavanaugh’s friend who was in the room turned up the music to cover her screams.

That Kavanugh friend, Mark Judge, refuses to testify before Congress. Although he denied the assault, his writings seem to say otherwise. In his book, “Wasted: Tales of a Gen X Drunk”, he describes extensive drinking and partying while attending Georgetown Preparatory School, with Kavanaugh. He even refers to a cohort as “Bart O’Kavanaugh”, a possible veiled reference to Brett Kavanaugh.

Now, a former schoolmate of Dr. Blasey Ford has confirmed hearing about the assault while at school.

The only thing that Dr. Blasey Ford is asking for is that the FBI investigate the assault, before she testifies before Congress – BUT Head of the Judiciary Committee, Senator Grassley, is refusing that request. Dr. Blasey Ford has even already taken and PASSED a polygraph test.

TAKE ACTION: TELL SENATORS COLLINS & MURKOWSKI TO DEMAND AN FBI INVESTIGATION BEFORE THE HEARINGS CAN PROCEED.

CALL, WRITE & FAX:  SENATORS SUSAN COLLINS & LISA MURKOWSKI

Sen Susan Collins
R – Maine

413 Dirksen Senate Office Building,
Washington DC 20510
Main: (202) 224-2523
Fax: (202) 224-2693

Sen. Lisa Murkowski
R – Alaska

522 Hart Senate Office Blding
Washington, DC 20510
Phone: (202) 224-6665
Fax: (202) 224-5301

No Judgeship for Jeff Klein!

Chairman Crespo and Members of the Bronx Democratic Party Executive Committee
Bronx Democratic Committee
1640 Eastchester Road
Bronx, NY 10461

Dear Chairman Crespo and Members of the Bronx Democratic Party Executive Committee:

It has been brought to our attention that former Senator Jeff Klein is being considered for a judgeship by the Bronx Democratic Committee.

As the voices of hundreds of thousands of women from across New York State, we ask that Jeff Klein be held to the same standards demanded of Brett Kavanaugh by the US Senate Democrats.

They are demanding that until such time that a complete investigation has been conducted and concluded, the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh should not be permitted to come to a vote. That same standard must be apply to consideration of Jeff Klein.

Governor Cuomo has said, “The allegations of sexual assault against Judge Kavanaugh are disturbing and deeply concerning. We owe it … to the American people to fully investigate these allegations — our democracy demands nothing less.”

As the Bronx Democratic Committee, you must surely see that there is no room for a double standard.

Jeff Klein should not be considered for a judgeship until such time that the allegations lodged against him over nine months ago are fully investigated, and conclude.

We the undersigned respectfully ask that you do not consider Mr. Klein for a judgeship at this time.

Sincerely yours,

Catherine Lederer-Plaskett
President, WCLA – Choice Matters

and

Andrea Miller
President, National Institute for Reproductive Health Action Fund

Help Get These 6 KEY Senators to Stop Kavanaugh

Alert: Below are THE 6 US Senators who will decide the future of the nominee for the US Supreme Court, and thus the future of Roe v. Wade, the course of health care, and the direction of the US Supreme Court’s decisions for decades to come.

Getting these 6 to do the right thing is hard because the 4 Democrats are up for re-election in “red” states and the 2 Republicans don’t want to be at odds with their political party.

So we must show them the factsKavanaugh is Bad for Their Constituents.

We must call the 6 senators below and tell them “Vote NO on Kavanaugh. He will take away our coverage of pre-existing conditions.”

We need to make sure they know the facts. Here are just a few of the many impacting their constituents:

  • Joe Manchin needs to know that his state of West Virginia has THE highest number of people with pre-existing conditions and THE highest rate of diabetes in the country, and the 2nd highest in cancer deaths.
  • Joe Donnelly needs to know that his state of Indiana has the 7th highest rates of autism and is the 11th highest state in cancer deaths. Approximately 695,832 people (12.9%) of the population have diabetes, with another 1,719,000 (35.6%) of the adult population suffer from pre-diabetes. Every year approximately another 33,000 are diagnosed with diabetes.
  • Heidi Heitkamp needs to know that in her state of North Dakota, 33.9% have diabetes and pre-diabetes out of a state population of 755,393 (2017) – and that’s about one in two North Dakotans, 50 percent, lives with a pre-existing condition. North Dakota is one of the top 13 states in new lung cancer cases and survivals.
  • Claire McClaskill needs to know that in her state of Missouri, 51% of the population – more than 1 out of every 2 Missourians – has a pre-existing condition. 332,300 Missouri children already have been diagnosed with  pre-existing conditions, and that  Missouri has the 6th highest rate of lung cancer in the country – and that approximately 699,992 people in Missouri (13.2%) have diabetes, and another 1,625,000 people, (35.9%), have pre-diabetes.
  • Susan Collins needs to know that her state of Maine 53% of the population – more than 1 out of every 2 Mainers – is living with a pre-existing condition. Maine is 9th highest in cancer deaths and 11.1% of the adult population has diabetes. 28,000 people in Maine are living with Alzheimer’s disease, affecting an additional 69,000 family and friends.
  • Lisa Murkowski needs to know that in her state of Alaska 1 out of every 2 Alaskans has a pre-existing condition. Also, Alaska has the highest number of annual diagnosed cases of Alzheimer’s per year. 59,186 people in Alaska, (10.9% of the adult population) have already been diagnosed with diabetes, and that another 194,000 people (36.7% of the adult population) have pre-diabetes. The cancer rate in Alaska is higher than the national average. This is just a smattering of the facts about people who will be thrown off of health insurance.These 6 Senators need to know THEY MUST VOTE NO on Kavanaugh.

Brett Kavanaugh, the president’s nominee to become the next US Supreme Court, has already made clear that he believes companies cannot be required to cover pre-existing conditions as mandated by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This is not a party-based issue. It is in no way a partisan issue. Everyone in the country needs health care and there are over 130 million folks in the United States with pre-existing conditions.* (Find your state.)

(Kavanaugh also believes sitting presidents cannot be held accountable for their actions.)

We need to get the senators to focus on is that Kavanaugh’s first attack will be on the ACA’s coverage of pre-existing conditions. He has over 2.5 million people’s health care in the crosshairs.

In June, the Department of Justice joined a lawsuit brought by 20 states challenging that ACA requirement that pre-existing conditions must be covered. They are asking that the courts eliminate these ACA protections. (The Lawsuit)

According to The Wall Street Journal, the adverse impact of this lawsuit will be felt on the individual market, including approximately 175 million people who get health coverage from small and large employers.*

This lawsuit is expected to make it to the US Supreme Court.

If Kavanaugh is confirmed, he will be the deciding vote to take away health insurance coverage from hundreds of millions of people with pre-existing conditions.

Examples of people who will lose coverage If Brett Kavanaugh becomes the next Supreme Court Justice:

  1. Any person on the Autism spectrum will be deemed having a pre-existing condition and will not be able to get coverage – AND IF THE FAMILY CAN FIND COVERAGE,  the cost will likely be through the roof. This is true for all special needs conditions. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) April 2018 report, 1 in 59 children are living with an autism diagnosis.
  2. Dementia, Alzheimer’s: both pre-existing conditions. “An estimated 5.7 million Americans of all ages are living with Alzheimer’s dementia in 2018. This number includes an estimated 5.5 million people age 65 and older and approximately 200,000 individuals under age 65 who have younger-onset Alzheimer’s.” “It is estimated that nearly 500,000 new cases of Alzheimer’s disease will be diagnosed this year.”
  3. Diabetes: 30.3 million people in the United States (9.4% of the population) have diabetes, according to the 2017 National Diabetes Statistics, 2017, published by the CDC. West Virginia has the highest rate of diabetes in the nation.
  4. Pregnancy will be deemed a pre-existing condition as it was before the ACA became law. According to Dr. Leah Kaufman, Legislative Chair of District II of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, a pregnant woman could end up paying $17,000 a year for health insurance.*

These 6 US Senators will determine the future of Roe v. Wade and direction of the US Supreme Court’s decisions for decades to come.

US Senator Joe Donnelly

Indiana – Democrat

Washington, D.C.
720 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
Phone: (202) 224-4814
Fax: (202) 224-5011


Click Here for
 locations & telephone numbers of offices in Indiana

 

US Senator Joe Manchin

West Virginia – Democrat

Washington, D.C.

306 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington D.C. 20510

Phone: (202) 224-3954
Fax:(202) 228-0002

Click Here for locations & telephone numbers of offices in West Virginia

 

US Senator Heidi Heitkamp

North Dakota – Democrat

Washington, D.C.

SH-516 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Phone: (202) 224-2043
Fax: (202) 224-7776

Click Here & go to the bottom of the page for locations & telephone numbers of offices in North Dakota

 

US Senator Clair McClaskill

Missouri – Democrat

Washington, D.C.
503 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
Phone: (202) 224-6154
Fax: (202) 228-6326

US Senator Susan Collins

Maine – Republican

Washington, D.C.
413 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Main: (202) 224-2523
Fax: (202) 224-2693

US Senator Lisa Murkowski

Alaska – Republican

Washington, D.C.
522 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Phone: (202) 224-6665
Fax: (202) 224-5301Click Here for locations & telephone numbers of offices in Alaska

 

  • https://www.npr.org/2018/06/08/618263772/trump-administration-move-imperils-pre-existing-condition-protections
  • https://www.protectourcare.org/130-million-strong-month-of-action/
  • https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/brett-kavanaugh-could-take-an-ax-to-obamacare/2018/07/09/c8817c50-83df-11e8-8f6c-46cb43e3f306_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.f4b1cd989379
  • Get Health Coverage at Work? Lawsuit Against ACA Could Affect You, Too, Wall Street Journal, 6/13/2018
  • https://www.findatopdoc.com/Healthy-Living/15-US-states-with-highest-rates-of-autism/7-Indiana
  • State of Obesity Better Policies for a Healthier America, Diabetes in the United States
  • www.firstquotehealth.com/health-insurance-news/pregnancy-pre-existing-condition
  • https://fox2now.com/2018/03/01/missouri-has-the-6th-highest-lung-cancer-rate-in-the-nation/
  • http://main.diabetes.org/dorg/PDFs/Advocacy/burden-of-diabetes/missouri.pdf
  • https://www.brightfocus.org/alzheimers/article/alzheimers-disease-facts-figures
  • https://www.alz.org/alzheimers-dementia/facts-figures
  • https://www.afj.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/Kavanaugh-SCOTUS-First-Look.pdf
  • https://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=12283140068462647556&q=661%2BF.3d%2B1%2B&hl=en&as_sdt=20003
  • https://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=7566948244478302925&q=799%2BF.3d%2B1035&hl=en&as_sdt=20003

 

The Hypocrisy of the Anti-Choice Zealots’ Zero Tolerance Policy

By: Jane Forman, Guest Blogger

Children are being torn from their families, put in cages, and left uncertain if and when they’ll see their parents again. This is the reality for over 2,000 immigrant children as a result of Trump’s zero-tolerance policy which began in May, and for months before as a part of a “pilot” program. Not only is the policy inhumane, but it also exposes a real hypocrisy among many politicians. How is it that the very elected officials who champion the rights of the fetus are ready to throw the “born” into concentration camps?

Many of these politicians who refuse to support a comprehensive reunification program of children with their parents are also the politicians who rally behind the message that “every life” has value and should be protected by society. According to the anti-woman Pro-Life Action League, “Every child, regardless of the circumstances of his or her conception, will be welcomed and loved.” – unless that child happens to be non-white. Many of the same people who’ve been silent or indifferent to the crisis produced by Trump’s zero-tolerance policy profess support for the anti-choice “right to life” stance. This message – touted by mostly white male representatives – apparently does not apply to the lives of immigrants who are not in-utero, and are coming to this country from non-white nations.

Every Democrat in the Senate signed a bill that would have prioritized connecting the State department with various countries’ governments to facilitate immediate family reunification. The bill would have also addressed some of the issues affecting immigrant men, women, and children such as rape, sex-trafficking, femicide, and violence. But not one single Senate Republicans has supported the bill – without which it cannot pass the Senate!

Separating these children from their parents, most of them below the age of 12, is a complete rejection of their emotional and physical well-being. Doctors and child welfare advocates not only cite the damaging effect of the short-term anxiety experienced by the separated children, but also that it puts them at a higher risk of PTSD, depression, and attention deficit disorder. These care facilities, regardless of their good intentions, cannot provide the concentrated love and comfort that shape children during their early developmental stages. Further, the longer the period of separation, the longer the recovery will take.

As one contract worker wrote, “They’re in crisis. They’re just crying uncontrollably.” “We’ve seen young kids having panic attacks, they can’t sleep, they’re wetting the bed. They regress developmentally, where they may have been verbal but now they can no longer talk.”

In addition, because there has been no tracking of the children, the reunification process will take months.

This kind of major governmental failure is not uncommon when it comes to immigrants of colors. As a nation, we’ve systematically shut out non-white immigrants throughout our history. Whether it was the Chinese Exclusion Act, The Immigration Act of 1924, or trying to stop immigrants from “shithole countries,” racial identity plays a major role in one’s ability to come to the U.S.

Trump’s own wife is a recipient of this privilege. Melania is a recipient of the Einstein Visa (for a reason no one is quite sure of,) and was able to sponsor her parents’ immigration as well. But this familial sponsorship is now considered to be “chain-migration” by her husband and he’s working to dismantle it.

It becomes more important as Trump destroys the lives of so many immigrant families to call out the hypocrisy that infects his government, and his family. Anything less than reunification must be called out so our country can finally treat every immigrant, regardless of their skin color, as human beings.

Why do anti-choice fanatics think the rights and well-being of “born” children are less important than the rights of fetuses? Because their position is based on controlling women. The separation and division of immigrant families are about control and humiliation – just like their anti-choice one is about doing the same to women.

Our Resistance & former Attorney General Schneiderman 

Dear Friends,

Many New Yorkers are still reeling from the news story that broke on Monday. Four women are accusing now former NYS Attorney General Eric Schneiderman of violence and abuse.

It is hard to reconcile that the described actions and accusations can be attributed to the same person that inspired many of us and led the charge on so many progressive fronts.

We at WCLA – Choice Matters won’t attempt to.

The former Attorney General was to be our keynote speaker on June 14th. Clearly, that is no longer the case.

Violence of the kind described is always wrong and cannot be explained away. People must always be held accountable.

As we navigate our way forward, we must hold on to some rock-solid truths:

  1. Over the past 8 years, the New York Attorney General’s office has been the most progressive AG’s office in the country. It was an office that showed no fear when threatened by Washington. It fought relentlessly for comprehensive reproductive rights for all, Dreamers in the DACA program, immigrants facing the travel ban, workers cheated of their wages, environmental protection, and voting rights. The AG’s office was THE legal resistance holding Donald Trump accountable to the law.And that can continue to be the case. The work of the Attorney General’s office was not conducted by one person.The staff that did the legal work to make those fights a reality is still in place. Eric Schneiderman was the face of the office but it was the staff that did the heavy lifting. We must support the staff, and elect an AG who will allow them to keep moving this progressive agenda forward;
  2. It is clear that a double standard is alive and well in the United States. While New Yorkers would not tolerate such behavior by one of its own elected officials, the country has a president that brags about assaulting women and encourages voters to support a pedophile. We must keep up the legal resistance and demand that all play by the same rules; and
  3. Every Election Matters. Whether it is a school board election (which occurs in Westchester next Tuesday) or County or State or Federal one – every election matters. The message “when they go low, we go local” must become the mantra of our resistance. We can only advance a progressive pro-choice agenda if we vote.

Here at WCLA – Choice Matters, we continue to work to advance reproductive freedom. Thursday, June 14th, is the date of our annual gala. This annual event raises funds necessary to pay for some of the arduous grassroots work we do.

Please save the date and stay tuned for the announcement of our new featured speaker!

Sincerely,
Catherine Lederer-Plaskett
President

The Practices of Anti-Choice Crisis Centers Aren’t Just Misleading, They’re Unconstitutional

The existence of anti-choice crisis pregnancy centers that disguise themselves as real clinics is already deeply unsettling. However, a recent Rewire article sheds light on something even more appalling: some of these centers in North Carolina are using federal money to buy programs that spread misinformation about abortion and promote Christianity.[1]

The program in question is the “Earn While You Learn” program, which is comprised of a series of videos that claims to educate women on reproductive health, but actually spreads false information about abortion, postpartum depression, and pregnancy as a whole.

As a reward for watching these videos and completing worksheets over them, women can earn essentials for childcare, such as diapers and car seats. Not only is this blatantly incentivizing women to avoid exercising their right to obtain an abortion, it is also disparaging of lower income women. Dinah Monahan, the founder of the program, described her motivation to start the program as being to counteract “entitlement culture.”[2] She blames lower income women for their struggles to obtain materials necessary for childcare and claims that they have grown up manipulating the system. Her program, in her mind, is an effort to correct this behavior— and also to “share Christ”. Women involved in the program have said that they are able to earn points to redeem on diapers and other essentials by attending Bible study and church services.[3] This goes well beyond using federal funding to promote religiously biased videos. This amounts to federal funding being used to promote Christianity to women in crisis. This type of activity tramples on the Constitution’s guarantee of a separation of church and state. Unfortunately, this is truly a snowball rolling down hill. Under Trump and the present Senate and House leadership, every day leads to ever-greater destruction of women’s civil rights. The more organizations like these crisis pregnancy centers are able to get away with, the greater the risk to unfettered access to reproductive health care.

[1] Littlefield, A. (2018, May 03). Anti-Choice Centers in North Carolina Use Federal Funds to Buy Programs Crafted to ‘Share Christ’. Retrieved May 10, 2018, from https://rewire.news/article/2018/04/26/anti-choice-centers-north-carolina-used-federal-funds-buy-programs-crafted-share-christ/

[2] Littlefield, A. (2018, May 03). Anti-Choice Centers in North Carolina Use Federal Funds to Buy Programs Crafted to ‘Share Christ’. Retrieved May 10, 2018, from https://rewire.news/article/2018/04/26/anti-choice-centers-north-carolina-used-federal-funds-buy-programs-crafted-share-christ/

[3]Littlefield, A. (2018, May 03). Anti-Choice Centers in North Carolina Use Federal Funds to Buy Programs Crafted to ‘Share Christ’. Retrieved May 10, 2018, from https://rewire.news/article/2018/04/26/anti-choice-centers-north-carolina-used-federal-funds-buy-programs-crafted-share-christ/

Choice vs Conscience [sic]: The Struggle for Contraception in Rural America

At a time when reproductive rights feel are constantly under attack, it is especially discouraging to find that access to reproductive health care— contraceptive care in particular— is being inhibited even in progressive states. A recent article from Rewire exposes the struggles that women in California face when attempting to obtain contraception.

Although California is often lauded as a progressive oasis, women in rural parts of the state often face the same sort of shaming that their counterparts in more conservative areas— such as the south or the midwest— tend to face.

Despite the fact that California has no laws that protect “provider conscience,” [sic] doctors in rural areas still shame their patients about their decision to use contraceptives. This shaming occurs regardless of marital status to  both married and unmarried women alike but for different reasons. In turn, but both groups face the barrier to care in that their options are severely limited. In many of these rural areas, there is only one or possibly two obstetricians and/or gynecologists in town— and everybody knows everybody.[1] If the two doctors that are in the area refuse to provide contraceptive care, these women have nowhere to turn without traveling hours to see a doctor in another town or to reach their nearest Planned Parenthood.

Even more tragic is the fact that this situation will likely get worse rather than better if the Trump administration has its way. As of January, the Administration proposed new legislation that would allow for further denial of care based on the “conscience” of the provider.[2] This is simply intolerable. The doctor’s office is the last place where women’s access to safe, legal, and affordable reproductive health care should be impeded by the “conscience” [sic] of others. The religious beliefs or political ideologies of a health care provider should never be a valid excuse to shame patients, misinform them, or deny them the care they need. Doctors are supposed to be in the profession of healing and are supposed to be committed to not doing harm to their patients. Misinforming women about reproductive health care does nothing but harm, and so is in direct conflict with the mission of health care providers. If doctors are allowed to deny their patients access to necessary reproductive care under the guise of religious and moral freedom, the integrity of the entire profession will be undermined.

[1] Jercich, K. (2018, April 04). Even in ‘Progressive’ States, Doctors Can Still Shame Women Out of Accessing Birth Control. Retrieved May 10, 2018, from https://rewire.news/article/2018/04/04/even-progressive-states-doctors-can-still-shame-women-accessing-birth-control/

[2] Jercich, K. (2018, April 04). Even in ‘Progressive’ States, Doctors Can Still Shame Women Out of Accessing Birth Control. Retrieved May 10, 2018, from https://rewire.news/article/2018/04/04/even-progressive-states-doctors-can-still-shame-women-accessing-birth-control/

Domestic Abusers Disarmed: A Step in the Right Direction

In the wake of the Parkland Florida shooting, thousands of young people nationwide stood up and made their voices heard on the issue of gun control. Although this has been met with much silence and resistance from the NRA, Republican leaders, and the Trump Administration, there are beacons of hope in this dark landscape. One such positive development is a new bill passed in New York State as part of Governor Cuomo’s 2018 Women’s Agenda (which contains initiatives pertaining to health, safety, and workplace issues that impact women) that would ban those convicted of domestic violence from buying or owning guns of any kind. Although previous legislation in the state mandated that domestic abusers turn over their handguns, no such mandate was made for other types of firearms. The new bill closes this loophole. Additionally, the bill expands the list of offenses that would make those convicted eligible for required gun surrender. The new list would include some— not all— assault and battery charges.[1] This is certainly a step forward towards common sense gun legislation that is so desperately needed in an America where gun violence taints the lives of every civilian in some way.

It is reasonable to think that laws like these, if implemented nationwide, could put a significant dent in the gun violence epidemic in the United States. First, it could potentially decrease the risk of women in abusive relationships dying from gun violence. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the risk of homicide in domestic violence situations increases by 500 percent when guns are present in the home. Additionally, according to FBI and state crime data, a woman in the United States is shot and killed by her current or previous partner every sixteen hours.[2] These facts alone are already tragic. No woman should ever have to live in fear for her life because her abuser is able to freely obtain a lethal weapon. What makes this even more terrifying is the link between domestic violence and mass shootings. 54 percent of mass shootings that occurred between 2009 and 2016 were committed by individuals who had a history of domestic violence.[3]

The issue of gun violence and its links to domestic abuse are a perfect illustration of Hillary Clinton’s famous assertion that women’s rights are human rights. We cannot continue on as a society that values the lives and rights of half of the population less than the other half. It is not just morally wrong and blatantly unequal, it also leads to a poisoning of our society that negatively impacts everyone in it. The new legislation in this State is a step forward, certainly, but it also exposes just how much we have left to fight for in the pursuit of a world with true equality and without the plague of gun violence.

[1]Vagianos, A. (2018, April 03). Convicted Domestic Abusers Will No Longer Be Able To Own Guns In New York State. Retrieved May 10, 2018, from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/domestic-abuse-guns-new-york_us_5ac241d3e4b0f112dc9de756

[2]Vagianos, A. (2018, April 03). Convicted Domestic Abusers Will No Longer Be Able To Own Guns In New York State. Retrieved May 10, 2018, from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/domestic-abuse-guns-new-york_us_5ac241d3e4b0f112dc9de756

[3]Vagianos, A. (2018, April 03). Convicted Domestic Abusers Will No Longer Be Able To Own Guns In New York State. Retrieved May 10, 2018, from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/domestic-abuse-guns-new-york_us_5ac241d3e4b0f112dc9de756

Voting – Why Bother? Part Two

After the 2016 Presidential election, any enthusiasm people had about voting was torn away. How could Donald Trump still be president after it was exposed that the election was fraught with Russian meddling, and with the majority of votes —more than 3 million— being cast for Hillary Clinton? Many of us lived in denial up until the moment of the inauguration.

It was truly an election that made you wonder what the point was in voting.

But then reality hit like a ton of bricks. Yes, we’re living in the time of Donald Trump, and yes, we’re angry, but that doesn’t mean we give up control and let other people rule —  quite the opposite, in fact.

In times when it feels like so much is out of our control, voting is one of the few means we have to exercise decision-making power. The reality is that voter turnout is historically low in this country. In turn, when voter turnout is low, every single vote cast counts more. A single vote can make the difference.

Elections can be so close that they result in a tie, like in Irvington, NY[1] or in Virginia this year. One was decided by the flip of coin and the other by the drawing of one name out of a can[2]. NYS Senator Andrea Stewart Cousins lost by 18 votes in 2004[3], and then turned around and won in 2006.  In the 2016 New York State Senate race for the 8th district seat, Democrat John Brooks beat Republican incumbent Michael Venditto[4] by only 33 votes out of 128,965 votes cast.[5]

Even more recently, the 2017 Alabama Special Election for the U.S. Senate seat vacated by Attorney General Jeff Sessions showed the importance of individual votes. The unimaginable actually happened: Alabama voters elected a Democrat to the Senate. Doug Jones claimed victory over his Republican opponent, Roy Moore. Jones won by around 20,000 votes. That was the first time a Democrat won in Alabama in decades. If those voters had stayed home because they thought a Democrat could never win, a child molester would have been elected.

Still not convinced that going to the polls makes a difference? In September of 1975, the closest Senate election ever took place. After two separate recounts, the original win by Wyman of 355 votes was narrowed down to a two (2) vote margin.[6] This is the best possible example of why the votes of individual citizens matter. In this race every vote truly did count and matter.

A good time to sit out on an election is NEVER. Every election from school board to president matters. You have to start at the base to build a pyramid.

Granted, it’s impossible to know when your vote could change history. But do you really want to risk it? After all, if you sit out an election, you’re giving up control of your life to others. You’re letting go of the only control you have of who governs you and how.

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[1] https://www.irvingtonny.gov/DocumentCenter/View/54

[2] https://www.npr.org/2018/01/04/573504079/virginia-republican-david-yancey-wins-tie-breaking-drawing

[3] http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C07E1DE163AF93AA35751C0A9639C8B63

[4]http://www.liherald.com/westhempstead/stories/Brooks-Venditto-tied-in-89th-District-senate-race,85449

[5]https://www.nytimes.com/elections/results/new-york-state-senate-district-8

[6]https://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/history/minute/Closest_election_in_Senate_history.htm