Category: News

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.

Abortion: An Essential Service?

By Charlotte Baron

Amidst the COVID-19 outbreak, officials have issued a rule that all “elective” surgeries, as well as non-essential medical, surgical and dental procedures should be delayed to preserve personal protective equipment, beds, and ventilators. Now, around the country, women wait as individual states debate whether abortion is an “essential” service or not. Instead of addressing abortion as time sensitive and a part of healthcare, too many state governments and anti-choice activists are using the pandemic as a means of advancing an anti-abortion agenda.

According to The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, “Abortion is an essential component of comprehensive health care. It is also a time-sensitive service for which a delay of several weeks, or in some cases days, may increase the risks or potentially make it completely inaccessible.”

There is radical opposition to that medical view from anti-abortion advocates. For example, in Ohio and Texas abortion clinics are being directed to be shut down during the pandemic. Ohio Deputy Attorney General Jonathan Fulkerson sent letters to three abortion clinics ordering them to “immediately stop performing non-essential and elective surgical abortions. Non-essential surgical abortions are those that can be delayed without undue risk to the current or future health of a patient.” (This definition fails to address the reason for the abortion.) Officials at Women’s Med Center in Dayton and Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio said they would continue to provide abortion care despite State Republicans trying to stop surgical abortion procedures. The clinics responded publicly by stating that abortion is essential and they are complying with state orders to stop nonessential surgeries.

Texas is another state that is labeling abortion as nonessential. Texas Governor and anti-abortion zealot Greg Abbott declared that most abortions will be put “on hold” until at least April 21.  Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said, “that anyone failing to comply with the Governor’s executive order faces fines up to $1,000 or 180 days in jail.”

As of now, there are still several states that have labeled abortion as an essential service and will continue providing them. New York State is one of the states that recognizes abortion is an essential procedure. All Women’s Health and Medical Services and Planned Parenthood are both on the front lines keeping patients and medical staff safe while serving a vital medical need. Meera Shah, Chief Medical Officer for Planned Parenthood in Long Island, Westchester, and Rockland – three of the hardest hit areas by the coronavirus – stated that Planned Parenthood’s doors remain open. They are following the protocol recommended by the CDC and the Department of Health. As described in The New York Clinics, All Women’s Health and Planned Parenthood are screening patients before treating them, limiting the number of people allowed in the waiting room and making sure they are six feet apart. All family, friends or clinic escorts must wait outside until the appointment is over.

It is clear that as more anti-choice state governments use the pandemic as an excuse to limit access to abortion, women’s health will suffer.

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.

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!

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

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

Double Barreled Shotgun Aimed at Our Rights

Donald and his Republican NRA-driven Congress can’t get gun control done but they sure can come after our civil rights, which includes the right to control out own bodies.

Today, Donald Trump issued two new rules which allow employers to deny women copay-free birth control.

This is discriminatory and a direct attack on a fundamental component of the Affordable Care Act. Birth control is expensive and, for many, not affordable.

They have also cut funding to all programs that assist educating or raising kids – special needs or otherwise. But they want to force women to keep having them.

This comes from an administration that has shown total disregard and disrespect for  women, particularly lower wage earning women. It is also an all-out assault on people of color of all ages and genders.

In the past 6 weeks, we’ve also witnessed the huge distinction in attitude and attention paid by this administration to hurricane victims in Texas and Florida as compared to those in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. FYI: The people of Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands cannot vote for president. One might conclude it’s all about the Donald and his base.

That’s who the Donald plays to.  His  personal obsession for attacking all things “Obama” really gets them revved, and also distracted. His base doesn’t care about Iran or North Korean, but they do care about making their religious convictions the law of this land.

Earlier in the week, the House passed a 20-week abortion ban. Now it is said to be heading to the Senate.

Read: 20-Week Abortion Ban – No Big Deal? Think Again!

The Iowa Supreme Court just upheld a 72-hour waiting period — Another REALLY big deal

Remember: Just like shotguns, elections have consequences, and we are clearly on the wrong end of this one.

20-Week Abortion Ban – No Big Deal? THINK AGAIN!

If you’re a woman in your 30s or 40s, beware – the 20-week abortion ban is aimed at you.
Even though it was beaten back in the Senate in September, the 20-week abortion ban will be back. It’s been passed in the House and is already the law in 13 states. Anti-choice extremists in Congress want to make it the law everywhere.
These zealots are targeting your right to decide whether or not to have a healthy child. They want to force you to give birth to a child who is suffering from chromosome abnormalities and/or genetic disorders – whether you want to or not.
Those of us who get pregnant in our 30s and in our 40s are at a greater risk of giving birth to a child with a birth defect, because of our age. We know this.
I knew this so I had three Amniocenteses, one in each of my pregnancies. It’s the most accurate and the safest test you can have. An Amnio tests for chromosome abnormalities and genetic disorders, and also detects neural tube defects which are birth defects of the brain, spine, and spinal cord – the two most common of which are spina bifida and anencephaly.
But you can’t get it until the second trimester.
An Amnio is performed at 17-19 weeks, and it takes another 2-3 weeks to get the results. That will take you to 19 to 22 weeks.
You’ll be out of time to get an abortion if anti-choice extremists in Congress and in states
across the country have their way.
That means all of us women, who want to have children, will no longer be able to have accurate testing for chromosome abnormalities, genetic disorders, or neural tube defects,
and do something with the results.
The possible loss of this right is very real – and this is not to even mention, what if your life is at stake.