Category: News

Breaking: Choice Matters & AG Schneiderman First to Respond

New York is the first state in the nation to take action in response to the U. S. Supreme Court’s divisive Hobby Lobby decision.

Today, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced that he together with State Senate Democratic Conference Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assemblywoman Shelley Mayer would propose legislation in Albany that would help to shield New York women from the effect of the Court’s decision.

The legislation to be proposed is the brainchild of WCLA – Choice Matters.  We are incredibly proud that our idea is now the Reproductive Rights Disclosure Act.

Immediately following the June 30th Hobby Lobby decision, Choice Matters approached Attorney General Schneiderman’s office with a simple straight-forward idea: Create legislation that requires employers to disclose whether or not they provide contraceptive coverage, and if they change the coverage, require that the company disclose the change.

We cannot change the Hobby Lobby decision right now, but we can make sure New York women know what they are getting into when seeking employment, or if their employer changes its policy.

Click here and read more about the Reproductive Rights Disclosure Act.

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Hope Rises from the Rubble

On May 23rd, Elliot Rodger murdered six people and wounded 13 more, at random, in Isla Vista, near the University of California Santa Barbara. The supposed reason: Women. In a 135-plus page, misogynist, autobiographical manifesto and multiple YouTube videos, he blamed all women and their disdain and sexual rejection of him for his rampage. His ideas are terrifying.

Yes, Elliot Rodger’s manifesto is extreme and thereby easy to dismiss as the rantings of a madman. But …“reading his manifesto, you can make out, through the distortions of his raging mind, the outlines of mainstream American cultural values”….”Rodger was crazier and more violent than most people, but his beliefs are on a continuum with misogynistic, class-based ideas that are held by many.” Sasha Weiss, The New Yorker

Amazingly, though, Rodger’s horrific actions and madman rantings have given rise to something wonderful and cause for hope: #YesAllWomen.  Women have again found their voices.

For years many of us have struggled to find ways to get a broader spectrum of women involved in our struggle, the women’s rights struggle. This is not about humanism, but about feminism.  Well, Elliot Rodger’s distorted views and violent random acts succeeded. He galvanized us in a way that has been long in coming.

“In response [to Rodger], the hashtag #YesAllWomen began to race across Twitter TWTR +1.48%. By [yesterday] afternoon, the tag had been used more than 1.8 million times according to tracking service Topsy. It linked stories of sexual violence, sexual harassment, and sexual fear across the networked world, as women reacted viscerally to both the horror of the crime and its commonality in their experience – at least in its motivation. The hashtag was a harsh and unsubtle pushback against the pat and simplistic “not all men” rejoinder so often flung about when feminism threatens male sensitivities. And frankly, #YesAllWomen  was a vital moment in the still-growing power of loosely organized and decentralized feminist networks that are changing the landscape of social culture using platforms like Twitter and Facebook.” Tom Watson, Forbes

Please join the movement #YesAllWomen. Put it in your search engine and see what comes up.

There is another great feminist power field to tell you about: Know Your IX, founded by female college students who have been rape victims and were denied the protection guaranteed by Title IX.  Visit  KnowYourIX.org and/or like them on Facebook. These women are shaking it up.

I want to yell, “THANK YOU” from the rooftops to all these women.

Read the following articles and share.
The Power of #YesAllWomen, by Sasha Weiss, The New Yorker

Why ‘#YesAllWomen’ Matters — And Why It’s Not Hacktivism, by Tom Watson, Forbes

#YesAllWomen reveals the constant barrage of sexism that women face, by Jessica Valenti, The Guardian

Elliot Rodger was a misogynist – but is that all he was?, by Hadley Freeman, The Guardian

GOP’s top candidates fail women

The Republicans’ top two candidates, for governor and attorney general, are anti-choice candidates who have shown true disdain for the well-being of New York women. No longer is the standard bearer for the Republican Party pro-choice governor Nelson Rockefeller, who signed New York’s abortion-rights bill into law. Instead, today’s New York Republican Party has sought out extreme anti-choice politicians to run.

Their gubernatorial candidate, Rob Astorino, has made his anti-choice position a cornerstone of his campaign. He promises to do to the state what he has done to Westchester County. That means vetoing legislation guaranteeing women safe access to reproductive health care, eliminating funding for health centers, gutting funding for sex education and more. If elected governor, he would be able to do unimaginable budgetary and legal damage to women.

Astorino and John Cahill, the Republican candidate for New York attorney general, have taken aim at the Women’s Equality Act. This act is a 10-point plan that ensures women are treated fairly in the workplace, helps protect survivors of domestic violence and preserves access to reproductive health care. Calling the reproductive health component of the act “ghastly” and “hideous,” Astorino has declared he will “guarantee” never to sign it into law. Cahill, the candidate whose legal mind the public is supposed to trust, dismisses it as unnecessary.

The truth is that New York’s current laws do not give women the full constitutionally recognized protection of Roe v. Wade and do not incorporate the medical advances that have been made in reproductive health over the past 44 years. New York women deserve reproductive legislation that does both, and the vast majority of New Yorkers want the reproductive component of the Women’s Equality Act enacted into law. But Astorino and Cahill don’t, and so they work to mislead the public about the Women’s Equality Act and the status of New York’s abortion rights.

In recent years, anti-abortion forces have chipped away at that constitutionally protected right state by state, driving women’s clinics out of operation and making it impossible for many women to obtain reproductive health services of all types – including contraception and abortion. In New York, 53 percent of our counties have no abortion clinics, and every year anti-choice bills, like the defunding of Planned Parenthood, must be beaten back in Albany.

It’s easy to say the denial of women’s health services couldn’t happen in New York. But unless the rights guaranteed by Roe are codified in state law, New York women will remain vulnerable to attacks from anti-abortion extremists – and Cahill has a history of undermining the right to choose.

Despite not holding public office, Cahill has an anti-choice record. He was Gov. George Pataki’s chief of staff and stood with his administration as it promoted policies that denied New York women access to reproductive health services and empowered abortion opponents. His administration also vetoed expansion of access to emergency contraception and denied reproductive health care to thousands of women by contracting with health maintenance organizations that refused to provide these essential services. This practice was not disclosed to women before they enrolled – imposing an undue burden by forcing them to find out-of-network providers after the fact.

Astorino and Cahill pose a sharp contrast to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. Cuomo has always stood strong as an advocate of women’s reproductive rights in theory and in reality, as seen in all 10 points of the Women’s Equality Act. Schneiderman’s record of advocating for women is legendary, both as a state senator and now as attorney general. As a senator, he led the effort to pass the Clinic Anti-Violence Act to protect abortion clinic workers, doctors and patients from violence and harassment – a bill that Astorino would have vetoed. It was signed into law in 1999, and was the first piece of pro-choice legislation enacted in New York in more than a decade.

Voters need to know that these four candidates are diametrically opposed when it comes to women’s rights. The fact that Astorino and Cahill do not care about what is in the best interest of 51 percent of the state population means they do not deserve to hold office in New York.

The writer is president of Westchester Coalition for Legal Abortion – Choice Matters.

What They Think About Women

Please read our op-ed that appeared in the Journal News today. It takes a hard look at New York’s new Republican Party and its views on women. Sadly, there seem to be no Nelson Rockefellers.

Governor Nelson Rockefeller signed New York State’s abortion rights bill into law in 1970. When vetoing the 1972 attempt to overturn that law, he declared, “I do not believe it right for one group to impose its vision of morality on an entire society.”

That is, unfortunately, not the view held by anti-choice extremist gubernatorial candidate Astorino or his running mate candidate for Attorney General John Cahill.

Please read What’s at Stake (This is our op-ed.)

You Can’t Have It Both Ways!

Sorry, Mitt, Corporations are NOT People!

Last week, the Supreme Court heard Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.

This case pits corporations against women’s health care.
â–ªThe Affordable Care Act requires health insurance plans to cover contraceptives without additional cost-sharing; and
▪Hobby Lobby, Inc. (HL) does not want to comply. It is claiming that the requirement to cover contraceptives violates its “personal” religious beliefs.

But HL is a corporation, an “it”, a thing, not a person. And the founder of HL, David Green, made the decision to make HL an “it” years ago. Corporations do not have a gender, or personal identity, or religion.

That is what makes this lawsuit so completely outrageous.
A corporation is an independent legal entity owned by shareholders. This means that the corporation itself, not its shareholders, is held legally liable for the actions and debts the business incurs. When an individual or group of individuals chooses to incorporate a business, it is because that individual or group wishes to be shielded from personal liability and to realize significant tax benefits. HL and David Green have been reaping the benefits of HL being a corporation for over 41 years.

When David Green decided to incorporate HL in 1972, making it a corporation, he accepted the trade off.  Becoming a corporation limited Green’s personal liability, but it also technically made him no longer the owner. The corporation and the individual were no longer synonymous.

Officially and technically, Green became a shareholder. That means that if something bad happens – for example a child suffers lead poisoning as a result of an HL-sold craft – HL would be sued, not David Green. Green’s personal property would not be at risk.

Furthermore, all corporations enjoy great tax benefits, including the shareholders of closely-held ones, like HL. (A closely-held corporation is one in which there is only a limited number of shareholders.)

Shareholder Green and HL should be told they can’t have it both ways. And if Hobby Lobby doesn’t want to provide contraceptive coverage, the corporation should pay the fine!

The truly frightening thing is that HL could win because we have pro-corporation justices on the U.S. Supreme Court. Chief Justice Roberts has already tried to distinguish between the rights of corporations and closely-held corporations. Huge corporations such as Dell and Heinz are also closely-held corporations. HL grossed more than $3 billion last year and has 14,000 full time employees working in more than 600 stores. If it walks like duck, and quacks like a duck…

Will Westchester Medical Center Be Forced To Ban Abortions?

I didn’t know who to vote for… so I didn’t vote.

I have heard these words repeated over and over again since the November 5th Election. Why? Because the over 85,000 voters in our database who have relied on finding the bright yellow ProChoice Voting Guide in their mailboxes every year – the guide that explained both who to vote for and what Choice means on a County level – did not receive it! This year, there was no ProChoice Voting Guide mailed out to our Westchester voters because we simply did not have the money.

The results are clear and Westchester has paid the price. In 2013, pro-choice candidates lost in astonishing numbers. County legislative seats that should have been wins for pro-choice candidates were losses. In District 10, (part of New Rochelle and Eastchester), the pro-choice challenger who took on the incumbent who opposes abortion even in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the woman, lost by 485 votes. In District 14, (part of Yonkers and Mount Vernon), the pro-choice challenger who took on an 18-year incumbent who votes against women at every opportunity including her historic vote to deny women safe access to reproductive health care, lost by 890 votes. And there are more districts just like these two. These are races in which our ProChoice Voting Guide would have made the difference between winning and losing!

2013 stands in sharp contrast to 2012, when our support for pro-choice candidates resulted in unprecedented victories, and we elected our endorsed candidates at all levels of government. Ninety-one percent of the candidates WCLA – Choice Matters endorsed, won! Those wins could not have happened without you or our ProChoice Voting Guide. (Please make a contribution today!)

Did you know that in odd year elections like this one, approximately seven out of every nine voters are women, and of those seven, five are over the age of 50? Not your typical internet and social media users. Reaching this target population requires more traditional avenues of communication – yes, snail mail – the U.S. Postal Service. And the postage costs just keep going up.

Anti-choice extremist County Executive Astorino said repeatedly, “County elections have nothing to do with abortion.” That could not be farther from the truth, but people believed him because there was no voting guide to refute him. County government plays a very significant role in reproductive rights and the implications can be huge. Just look at Albuquerque, New Mexico. That municipality just voted on an initiative to ban abortions after 20 weeks. That could happen here.

Reproductive rights is absolutely a County issue.
The people we elect decide the County budget. Departments relating to women and families comprise a large portion of that budget. The County Executive nominates and the County Board of Legislators (CBL) confirms appointments to the Westchester Medical Hospital Board; thus the Board’s elected officials ultimately control whether the hospital will continue to provide abortions. The CBL decides whether inmates will get pregnancy tests, abortions, and prenatal care on request and without delay. The County Health Department decides which clinics will provide services and whether they will provide reproductive health services, counseling, and referrals for abortions. The County Executive appoints, and CBL votes to confirm commissioners important to the pro-choice issue including Health, Social Services, and Corrections.

Last year, those elected officials gutted all funding to the community health centers which directly impacted women. Funding for comprehensive sex education is gone, and instead, the County Executive, who is winning awards from abstinence-only organizations, vetoed a bill giving women safe access to reproductive health centers.

Sadly, WCLA – Choice Matters forecasted election night results. We put our voting guide on line but that only reached a limited number of people. In contrast, our mailed bright yellow ProChoice Voting Guide reaches the all-important target audience – women – who are rushing between work and other responsibilities, and those that do not live on the internet. The mailed voting guide provides, literally, an in-hand education that can and does go from the mailbox to the voting booth.

Make a gift to Choice Matters to support our work.

In 2014, all seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and New York State government are up for election: Congress, Governor, Comptroller, Attorney General, and the New York State Senate and Assembly. This election matters. Last year, we watched as a turncoat Senate Democrat turned his back on his constituents and aligned himself with the anti-choice Republican leader. Together, they blocked the Women’s Equality Agenda from coming to the floor for a vote. They made us realize how much New York has in common with Texas.

If we are not able to distribute our ProChoice Voting Guide to our database of over 85,000 Westchester County residents, November 5th, 2013 will serve as a precursor of elections to come.

But you can stop that from happening by contributing to WCLA – Choice Matters today.

Choice Matters has been standing strong since 1972! That’s 40+ years!
Choice Matters has interviewed hundreds of thousands of female voters, identified those who are pro-choice, and added them to our database. We do this every single week, each and every year. It’s our amazing database and our mailed ProChoice Voting Guide that make us victorious. We’ve always understood this. But we just didn’t have the money to print and mail out our voting guide this year – and pro-choice candidates lost across the County. We cannot afford to let that happen again next year.

Your support today will make it possible for us to send our ProChoice Voting Guide and newsletter which informs the public about Choice, elected officials, reproductive rights actions, challengers’ positions, and our critical endorsements. This voting guide newsletter scares some candidates and elected officials, and rewards others, because it holds them accountable for their actions.

Your generous contribution of $25, $100, $250 or more will help Choice Matters’ ProChoice campaign continue to identify and educate households across the county and state.

 Choice Matters is a mighty pro-choice organization with a proven strategy. That’s because you, our donors, have given us extraordinary support. We hope you will continue to do so because we need your help now more than ever. Your contribution, whatever you can afford – large or small – will make a difference. Every dollar truly counts.

Please mail your contribution today or you may securely contribute on line at www.choicematters.org.

Supporting Choice Matters is the most valuable action an advocate for Choice can take.

The 2013 Pro-Choice Voting Guide

The New York State Board of Elections issued an opinion prohibiting 501(c)(4) organizations, such as WCLA – Choice Matters, from “endorsing” or saying we “support” a candidate. To comply, our endorsements will now be made by WCLA PAC.

WCLA PAC will make its endorsements based on the candidate ratings made by the Board of Directors of WCLA – Choice Matters. Any messaging must come from WCLA PAC. Therefore, WCLA PAC will be the voice used to comment and share information during this election season.

To that end, WCLA PAC will have its own website which you will be able to access through a link on Choice Matters’ home page or by going directly to: http://wclapac.org/ (It is still under construction!)

Donations
We need you to make a donation!
You can do it on the website or you can mail it to:
WCLA
235 Mamaroneck Ave, #103
White Plains, NY 10605

WCLA PAC will use the contributions for election-related items, such as to build out its website, political outreach and to mail, if possible, voting guides to those unable to access the web. For more information, call: 914.946.5363

Unfortunately, due to a lack of funds, I regret to inform you that Choice Matters and WCLA PAC are unable to mail our newsletter and yellow voting guide county-wide this year. Mailing the newsletter and voting guide out to over 80,000 Westchester residents costs $32,520. We were not able to raise that money.

We will put the newsletter and voting guide on our website. You can print it there.

Any additional dollars we raise will be used to mail out copies to those who do not access the web.

We know that this is a terrible loss. So many of us rely on the bright yellow ProChoice Voting Guide and newsletter arriving in our mailboxes every year. And so many of us do not have the  time or opportunity to use the web. Unfortunately, the power of the pro-choice vote will be greatly diminished on Election Day, November 5th.

Hopefully, with your help, we can start raising funds now for next year when New York goes to the polls to vote for Governor, all of the State Senate and Assembly, and for all the members in the House of Representatives!

Yale Redefines Rape!

You can’t make this stuff up!

Yale University has officially redefined rape, which must be making some of last year’s extremist candidates happy. At Yale it will be considered nonconsensual sex and worthy of only a written reprimand.

If you are a Yale alum, tell them this won’t fly. Everyone should withhold contributions until this is changed.

Read Jezebel’s Yale Officially Declares ‘Nonconsensual Sex’ Not That Big of a Deal

 

Senator Jeff Klein is Betraying New York Women

Klein is Refusing to Bring the 10-Point Women’s Equality Act (WEA) to the Floor for a Vote!

It is either because he’s chicken or because he has simply lied to all of us!

Governor Cuomo’s Women’s Equality Act protects women against gender discrimination in the work place, sex trafficking, domestic violence, and much more—plus it puts federal law as determined by Roe v. Wade into New York law. We all supported Klein for this kind of legislative focus!! But Klein is balking.

Klein is aligning himself with the Republican extremist Dean Skelos with whom he has chosen to share power. And rather than stand up for women, Klein is marching in lock step with anti-choice, right-to-life zealot Skelos. He would rather stand with Skelos than with the women of New York—and by so doing, Klein is supporting an anti-choice agenda.

If Klein refuses to bring the WEA to the floor for a vote, Klein should be deemed anti-choice.

Klein, when a NYS Assemblyman, won his primary for New York State Senate because he challenged his opponent’s record on Choice. I know because I was there. It was my first real election battle and I made sure that Klein won against his opponent who had a “mixed” voting record on reproductive rights.

Klein swore then, as he has every election since, that nothing would stand between him and fighting for a woman’s right to comprehensive reproductive rights — which includes the right to have an abortion. And we, Westchester Coalition for Legal Abortion (WCLA) – Choice Matters has been there every step of the way, standing up for him.

BUT NOW, Klein is turning his back on women.

Why Would Klein Betray His Supporters? Because he wants to advance his personal political career and doesn’t care who he throws under the bus. Forget the women who voted for him because of his promises, and WCLA – Choice Matters’ support.

That is a huge MIS-calculation by Klein. As WCLA – Choice Matters has told you for years, the vast majority of New Yorkers (and U.S. residents) support comprehensive reproductive rights.

Please click here to view a current comprehensive Quinnipiac poll.

Voters thought that they had elected a progressive ‘independent’ candidate. Sadly, when it really matters most, Jeff Klein is betraying every one of us.

If Senator Jeff Klein refuses to bring the 10-Point Women’s Equality Act to the Floor for a vote, up or down, we will consider Senator Jeff Klein anti-choice, anti-woman and anti-family.

And Senator Jeff Klein will have launched his own personal war on women.

Amazon’s Support for the Victimization of Women

The website UltraViolet has exposed “the Ex” shooting target being sold on Amazon.  This comes on the heals of  Amazon selling t-shirts that advocated for rape and domestic violence.

The manufacturers of the “Ex”, Zombie Industries, are making a joke out of domestic violence.

“A shooting target mannequin named the “The Ex,” a large-breasted woman who bleeds when shot, is being sold on Amazon.com. It’s manufactured by Zombie Industries, a company that was featured at the NRA convention last weekend.

Let’s review the facts: 57% of mass shootings involve incidents of domestic violence. The presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation increases the chance that a woman will be murdered by 500%. 54% of women killed with guns are killed by intimate partners or family members. Gun violence against women is a serious problem.

The sole Amazon.com review says, “This was a very original, cool way to kick off a bachelor party for a firearm enthusiast, such as myself.”

Go to UltraViolet’s website and sign their petition telling Amazon to stop selling the “Ex”