Category: Pro-Choice Articles

The Story of Pirro & Why Choice Matters’ Questionnaire Matters

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

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

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

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

2005 New York Time Article.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Join us – Honor Assemblywoman Amy Paulin

On Saturday, June 22nd, we will honor an outstanding Assemblymember, Amy Paulin,
(NYS Assembly District #88.)

Assemblywoman Amy Paulin is a champion for women. She has been a prolific legislator, with more than 200 of her own bills being signed into law. Her diverse legislative agenda includes state government reform, children and families, domestic violence, sex trafficking, education, health care, animal welfare, and preventing gun violence.

Amy’s distinguished record of activism in public policy and community issues before being elected to the Assembly has helped make her the outstanding elected official she is today.  Amy has served as Executive Director of My Sisters’ Place, Founder and Chairwoman of Westchester Women’s Agenda, President of Westchester League of Women Voters, Vice President of NY State League of Women Voters, Citizen Member of County Board of Legislators’ Special Committee on Families, and as a Member of the Board of Directors of WCLA – Choice Matters! What a launching pad for women’s issues!

Choice Matters and the community of advocates and activists are particularly excited by Amy’s writing and sponsoring of the bill that eliminated the statute of limitations for rape, and sponsoring the landmark Trafficking Victims Protection and Justice Act to dramatically toughen penalties for traffickers and buyers while providing support to the victims of human trafficking to help rebuild their lives. (Click here to read a partial list of Amy’s Bills.)

The 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/

The Bastion of White Male Privilege

I confess. I read the obituaries regularly. I like to. They are a great glimpse into history. You read about people you may never have heard about and about accomplishments you may never have known occurred.

But, truthfully, what is omitted is more striking. With rare exception, there are no women – and the few people of color mentioned are men.

Some might argue that men generally die before their female spouses, and, therefore, there is no one left to write the obituary for the wife when she goes. Really??

The truth is that the men who inspire long obits and thanks from different boards did not reap their accomplishments on their own, but rather just did not share the public glory. This speaks to “behind every great man is a woman.”

I have had the pleasure of meeting many of these women, the wives who have outlived their successful husbands, and are still here providing the funds necessary for the not-for-profit world to survive. They recognize what abortion rights means, and what not having them also means. When we speak, I do not have to navigate the artificial obstacles – minors’ rights, emergency contraception, waiting periods, sonograms. Abortion is abortion – a necessary medical procedure that must be available to all regardless of age, race, religion or ability to pay. These women know and understand.

They are older now, and often rely on another woman, a housekeeper or an aide who is usually of color. Together these two women navigate their way. This is a relationship not to be romanticized but to be recognized.

Sometimes one or the other will share a story with me. They’ve usually been together a long time, and rely on one another. Their lives and station in society are without doubt very different, but they do have one thing in common: neither will be highlighted in The New York Times obituaries. The widow will, at most, be described as “Mrs. Joe Smith, the wife of the great…” The aide won’t even receive that mention.

This power to erase women’s accomplishments has not changed with time. In contrast to the chronicling of the deaths of younger men, when younger women die we are told the cause of death rather than what they did.

Perhaps, the true measure of how far we have, or have not, come and the thickness of the glass ceiling is found in the obituary column.

Dorothy Height – The Irony of It All

Dorothy Height – “The godmother to the Civil Rights Movement”
President Barack Obama

A portrait of Dorothy Height is on the Black Heritage forever stamp this month. She was an amazing woman with more credits to her name than most of us could ever dream of. She spent almost 50 years of her life fighting for race and gender equality.

She helped organize the 1963 March on Washington, and was the only woman to stand on the stage with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  But, despite being a march organizer and representing the National Council of Negro Women, she was not asked to speak.

Dorothy Height recognized a fundamental truth – a truth that we must embrace today. Women’s rights, including the right to choose – the very right to control your own body – encompasses all women and must, therefore, include all women on the front lines.

Height and other black women leaders sought to empower the black community to fight restrictions on abortion. The African-American Women for Reproductive Rights, an influential black political, social and grass-roots organization, gave voice to that.

We will include Dorothy Height on our 45th anniversary wall Recognizing the Pro-Choice Voter.

The irony that it took until Trump was in the White House for her image to appear on our 1st class postage stamp cannot be overlooked. Trump and his administration seek to  destroy all we have fought for, for  so many years – including birth control and abortion rights. Dorothy Height’s portrait stands as a reminder that we can neither stand idly by nor can we isolate ourselves in groups as we wage this battle.

3 IDC Members Refuse to Co-Sponsor Reproductive Health Act

Tell them: You can’t have it both ways!

NYS Senators & IDC leading members Klein, Savino & Carlucci claim to be pro-choice BUT refuse to sign on as co-sponsors of the Reproductive Health Act*.

Just like you can’t be “a little bit pregnant”, you can’t be “a little bit pro-choice”. You cannot pick & choose civil rights. It’s all or nothing.

These 3 IDC traitors want women to vote for them, so they lie.

*They say, “We’re Pro-choice.” BUT they do not support women having 21st century medical care.
*They do not support giving New York women the full constitutional protect guaranteed by Roe v. Wade.
*They do not support putting abortion care in the health code.
*They support keeping abortion in the penal code.

Because of them, if Astorino, or his equivalent, becomes governor, it will be easy to “tweek” the law and, potentially, end up prosecuting women and their doctors.

(You say that can’t happen here, but remember we also did not think Trump and his anti-choice, sexually abusive mentality would end up in the White House.)

(*The Reproductive Health Act would guarantee New York women 21st century medical care, and the full constitutional protection of Roe; plus it would put abortion in the health code where it belongs, and remove it from the penal code.)

Call Klein, Savino & Carlucci and Demand They sign on as Co-Sponsors of the Reproductive Health Act!

Jeff Klein: 718-822-2049 and/or 518-455-3595

Diane Savino: 718-727-9406 and/or 518-455-2437 and/or 718-333-0311

David Carlucci: 845-623-3627 and/or 518-455-2991 and/or 914-941-2041

If Not Now, WHEN? If Not Here, WHERE?

As we enter 2017, we must demand that Governor Cuomo STAND with the women of New York State.

Governor Cuomo used his powers: 1. to pass the Marriage Equality Act; 2. to pass Sensible Gun Legislation, and 3. to pass Anti-Fracking Legislation.

Governor Cuomo must use those same powers to make New York a Reproductive Rights Sanctuary State.

To do so, he will need to oppose the IDC (so-called Independent Democratic Conference) comprised of 7 rogue members who work with the anti-choice Republican Senate at the expense of their constituents, simply for their own personal power grab.

Cuomo is up for re-election in 2018.
Tell him the TIME is NOW.

We must tell Governor Cuomo that he cannot turn a deaf ear to the women of New York. He cannot win without us.

Help us keep women’s reproductive rights on the front burner for Governor Cuomo.

Remind Cuomo, Donald Trump intends to overturn Roe v. Wade, take away funding from Planned Parenthood, cut Obamacare which will take away contraception from millions, appoint over 100 anti-choice federal judges plus U.S. Supreme Court Justices – and the list goes on.

This is the time for Governor Cuomo to stand up for women!

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Anti-Abortion Groups Expect Quick Action from Trump

Trump to Inherit more than 100 Court Vacancies, Plans to Reshape Judiciary

The Abortion Conversation We Need to Have

States Enacted 60 Abortion Restrictions in 2016

Abortion Foes, Emboldened by Trump, Promise “Onslaught” of Tough Restrictions

Supreme Court Strikes Down Anti-Abortion Law

The U.S. Supreme Court just ruled,
in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt,
that Texas’ HB 2 admitting privileges & surgical center requirements are
unconstitutional!

This is a huge win for women everywhere!

Although this case only addresses this Texas law, the effect of this decision should have a much broader impact.

Approximately 24 other states have passed similar restrictions into law. Although the majority of these laws have been challenged, they have not made it to the U. S. Supreme Court.

Now there is a strong case to strike down similar laws in these other states.

The Details in the Ruling

It was a 5-3 decision with Justice Stephen Breyer writing the majority opinion on behalf of Justices Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Anthony Kennedy and himself.

> The ruling throws out an earlier Appellate Court decision which – had it been upheld – would have resulted in the closing of the vast majority of abortion clinics in Texas, leaving only 9 of the more than 40 that were functioning before the law was passed.

> This case centered on the question, had Texas lawmakers placed an “undue burden” on the constitutional right to an abortion with the new restrictions? The language “undue burden” was established in the 1992 landmark case Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

> In the Majority Opinion, the justices explained that the two parts of the Texas law being challenged create a “substantial obstacle in the path of women” who are seeking abortions and neither provision “offers medical benefits sufficient to justify the burdens upon access that each imposes.” In other words, YES, Texas’ HB 2 did place an “undue burden” on women!

(Texas’ HB 2 had required doctors who performed abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles. The law also had required abortion clinics to meet the stricter standards of hospital-style “ambulatory surgical centers.”)

> Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt is the first major Supreme Court decision on abortion since the 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

Let’s Be Perfectly Clear

> Texas’ HB 2 was never about protecting women’s health.
It was always about ending access to abortion!

> Texas’ HB 2 is only one of the many anti-choice laws extremists have already passed in states across our nation. These laws are about obliterating abortion rights and access to birth control – nothing less.

> The Republican National Platform includes a plank dedicated to opposing abortion.

(From the 2012 Platform: “Faithful to the “self-evident” truths enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, we assert the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed. We support a human life amendment to the Constitution and endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children.” )

We Have Only One Choice!

> We must continue to fight on every front:
from County governments to State Governments to the Federal Government.

> Every Election Matters!

> We must now go on the offensive and fight for a Country where women’s comprehensive rights are valued and guaranteed!

AN IMPORTANT READ: An Overview of Abortion Laws