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Positive Change! Introducing CATCH!

There is a lot of news in the world of abortion rights, and much of it is not good.

But last Thursday was GREAT!

Choice Matters stood with NYS Attorney General James to announce a lawsuit against Red Rose Rescue clinic invaders in NYS. We were at the Planned Parenthood in Hempstead, NY.

And Choice Matters introduced the world to CATCH (Center for Analysis and Tracking of Clinic Harassers). CATCH does the research behind lawsuits like this one.

CATCH is making a real difference in real time to protect providers and patients! 

CATCH is a new, unique, national resource center which tracks anti-abortion terrorists. It compiles strategic resources for clinics and is showcasing legal strategies to successfully halt harassers from violent attacks. CATCH will provide a road map for law enforcement and prosecutors to effectively hold these violent offenders responsible to the fullest extent of the law. It will also provide information useful in the defense of legislative challenges by attorneys working to reverse reproductive justice laws.

Please watch these two links:
AG James announcing the lawsuit.
Catherine Lederer-Plaskett explaining the impact of the lawsuit and CATCH’s key work.

CATCH is making a seismic difference at a critical time.

Last week was a bad week for women

Staying alert makes you a better voter, a better advocate.

Last Week’s Bad News
MIFEPRISTONE – MEDICATION ABORTION

Last Wednesday, the case to ban mifepristone nationwide was heard by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit. Considered to be one of the most conservative in the country, the court has consistently ruled against the Biden Justice Department.

The outcome before the 5th Circuit looks bleak. The three-court panel was exceedingly “unfriendly”, verging on snarky, to attorneys representing the Justice Department and mifepristone distributor Danco Laboratories. In contrast, they were welcoming to attorneys for the plaintiffs, a coalition of anti-abortion national medical associations under the umbrella of the “Alliance for Hippocratic Medicine” plus several doctors.

This case started in Texas and was heard by a Trump-appointed U.S. district court judge, who decided to outlaw mifepristone—one of the two pills in medication abortion. It made its way through the 5th Circuit to the US Supreme Court, which sent it back to the 5th Circuit.

Before sending it back, the Supreme Court did preserve access to mifepristone, and thus to medication abortion, by freezing both lower-court rulings while the appeals are being heard. (Justices Thomas and Alito dissented.)

Mifepristone has been used safely in combination with misoprostol to terminate pregnancies since it was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration 23 years ago. It has been approved in 90 other countries. More than half of U.S. abortions are medication abortions.

As reported in The New York Times: “The case is the most important abortion-related dispute to reach the high court since the justices overturned Roe v. Wade, triggering conservative states across the country to either ban or severely restrict the procedure. How the dispute over medication abortion is ultimately resolved could make it more difficult for women to obtain abortion, even in the states that still allow it.”

The plaintiffs’ goal is to end access to medication abortion nationwide.

It is expected that this case will ultimately return to the US Supreme Court for a decision.

THE COMSTOCK LAW
Anti-choice extremists are seeking to use the 1873 Comstock Law to block the distribution of medication abortion through the mail.  Passed at a time that America was obsessed with a puritanical morality, the long-dormant Comstock Law forbade the mailing of pornography, obscene literature, contraceptives and abortifacients. Women’s advocacy organizations have been seeking the repeal of this law for years.

In Texas, on April 7, 2023, US District Judge Kacsmaryk resurrected the 150-year-old Comstock Law when deciding to outlaw mifepristone. If it is allowed to stay on the books, the impact could be devastating. Imagine if the Comstock Law is used to prohibit the mailing of medication abortion pills. Hundreds of thousands of women in states where abortion access is extremely limited and/or who live in rural areas will not have access to abortion care.

It won’t matter what governor is stockpiling pills. We won’t be able to distribute them. These decisions directly impact New York State.

NORTH CAROLINA
Abortions after 12 weeks of pregnancy will be banned in North Carolina as of July 1, 2023.

On May 4th, the legislation sped through Republican-controlled legislature, along a party-line vote. The Democratic Governor vetoed it, and, on May 16th, the GOP legislature overrode his veto.

South Carolina is, the last safe haven in the southeast, moving closer to a near total abortion ban.

The Take-Away – JUDGES MATTER – VOTING MATTERS
Every year you vote for candidates for Family, County, and Supreme Court, along with candidates for other offices. It is important to remember that just because a candidate adds a “D” after their name does not mean they are “pro-choice”.

Learn as much as you can. All candidates, including judges, try to move up the ladder to higher office. Every candidate and every office matters.

IMPORTANT UPDATE: SCOTUS & Medication Abortion

Yesterday the US Supreme Court decided to stay a ruling to restrict mifepristone, leaving access and legal standing UNCHANGED for now.
This is a “stay,” not a “decision.” Medication abortion is still in jeopardy. This case is certain to come back to the Supreme Court.
And there are already new lawsuits heading toward the Supreme Court challenging abortion protections, even in states—including New York—where abortion is currently legal.
Anti-choice extremists didn’t stop with Roe, and they won’t stop here. Will you help Choice Matters fight back—for medication abortion rights and all the other reproductive rights that are now under threat?
They will keep going until they have secured a national abortion ban, and the threat to abortion goes far beyond this case alone. We cannot wait until 2024 to take action.
This is the same Supreme Court that struck down Roe in 2022. Two justices, Thomas and Alito, have already shown how they would rule in their dissenting opinion yesterday.
That’s why we’re moving forward, fighting back at every level of government.
Will you help with an emergency donation to help combat anti-abortion disinformation and save access to the abortion pill mifepristone?
PLEASE KNOW OUR WORK NEVER STOPS!
This week, Choice Matters had a huge win in Albany. While we were all focused on the Supreme Court, we were also keeping our eye on SUNY and CUNY students.Several years ago, Choice Matters pledged to make medication abortion available on college campuses throughout the state—and this week that promise got a lot closer to being a reality. A bill passed in both the NYS Senate and Assembly requiring medication abortion to be accessible to all students on SUNY and CUNY campuses. We now look to the Governor to sign this into law!

Starting Friday – Medication Abortion Banned in New York

IN JUST 5 DAYS, MEDICATION ABORTION WILL BE ILLEGAL IN NEW YORK STATE

Last Friday, one single federal court judge in Texas blocked access to medication abortion for all women. He decided in favor of an extremist anti-choice group and against the FDA and millions of women across the country. This Trump appointee outlawed the use of medication abortion’s key drug, mifepristone. This ban is scheduled to go into effect on April 14th. He made his decision on trumped up claims that have no foundation in medicine. Mifepristone was approved by the FDA more than 20 years ago. It is safe.

Within hours, another ruling came out – this time from a federal judge in Washington State. This ruling basically stated that mifepristone is safe and that the FDA should continue its distribution as is – BUT it only applies to the 17 states that joined the case. New York is NOT one of those states. 

Regardless of these warring decisions, on Friday, April 14th, medication abortion – which makes up 53% of all abortions in the United States – will be illegal in New York. Only a stay from the ultra conservative 5th Circuit Court of Appeals could stop this. This may find its way to the US Supreme Court.

This means that, starting Friday, everyone seeking abortion care in New York (and New Jersey) will need to have a medical procedure, rather than the process known as medication abortion facilitated by taking 2 pills up to 10 weeks of pregnancy.

The only real recourse is to elect a prochoice trifecta in 2024 – which means taking the majority in the House of Representatives and Senate, and keeping a prochoice president in the White House.
 
We need to stop relying on a broken court system, and instead pass abortion rights into law nationally. Help us elect prochoice leaders to Congress.

Invest in our future with a donation to Choice Matters NOW.

Help us take control away from extremist judges by electing prochoice candidates to Congress who will pass the laws we need.

2022 Accomplishments – A Timeline

We were joined by the many who know how much Choice Matters has done to advance abortion rights — including US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, NYS Attorney General Tish James, NYS Lt. Governor Antonio Delgado, Congresswoman Nita Lowey, Assembly members Amy Paulin, Tom Abinanti & Sandy Galef and Emmy-Award winning comedian Judy Gold. It was a night spent toasting accomplishments & strategizing for the future.

Texas, Oklahoma, Idaho, Tennessee, Indiana

Tennessee, Texas, Oklahoma, and Idaho begin enforcing near-total abortion bans today and North Dakota is set to do so tomorrow. As of tomorrow, 12 states will have outlawed abortion in almost all instances. These bans will contribute to growing regional abortions deserts.* 

This is what the United State looks like today, August 25, 2022.

1 in 3 women cannot access abortion care. Doctors are frightened to provide abortion care to women even in cases of a life-or-death emergency, for fear the state will disagree with their evaluation and, as a result, revoke their licenses and sentence them to a term of up to life in jail.

Tennessee’s ban has added to a regional abortion desert in the Southeast. Now, people seeking abortions in the South have few options — they can travel to North Carolina, Illinois or Indiana (where an abortion ban takes effect September 15). People who are under 15 weeks can also travel to Florida.

This is the reality and it is horrific.
 All who can procreate have a target on their backs.

BUT we can change the future. Not by sitting around and licking our wounds but with hard work. It will be a long haul. BUT We Can Do This! And We Must!

Choice Matters has been doing heavy lifting for a long time. We saw this coming, and we are prepared.

Join Us!

ACTION ALERT: CALL TODAY – Equality Amendment!

**PROTECT New Yorkers from this Extremist SCOTUS**
Make the following calls and emails TODAY.
There is NO time to lose!

>The NYS Legislature is meeting for a Special Session tomorrow, Thursday, June 30th.

> Tell your legislators they must include the Equality Amendment on the Agenda – and then they must PASS IT! It will enshrine abortion rights and gender equality in New York’s Constitution.

Demand Passage of the Equality Amendment Now! 
Call:

  • Majority Leader Stewart-Cousins – (518) 455-2585
  • Speaker Heastie – (518) 455-3791; AND

your own NYS Senator and Assembly representative. Find their contact information here: https://openstates.org/ny/legislators/

The Bill numbers are: (A10468A/S8797A)

Here is a Sample Script you can use:
“Hello, my name is __________ from zip code ________. I’m contacting {legislator’s name} with an urgent demand. Call for the Equality Amendment to be put on the agenda at the Special Session tomorrow, Thursday, on June 30th, and THEN pass it.

If you don’t do it NOW, it will take two more years to get this to the voters. There is no time to waste, I want you to be a champion on getting bill number A10468A/S8797A passed this week. Thank you.”

Also: Email them using this simple link.

DO IT TODAY. THERE IS NO TIME TO WASTE.

If they don’t do it tomorrow, it will take a minimum of an extra two years to make this happen!

Choice Matters’ Clinic Access Bill Becomes LAW!

Choice Matters’ Clinic Access Bill Becomes Law!
Drafted. Passed. Done.
(12+ years in the making.)

In November, when the clinic in White Plains was attacked, we said, “enough is enough!” We drafted, re-drafted, and drafted again legislation, and demanded meetings. We worked until the bill was right. This new law (boy, that sounds so good!) protects the inside of clinics as well as those outside looking for safe access to medical facilities. And yes, we worked to protect first amendment rights; but now the right to safe access to healthcare isn’t compromised. It is protected too!

For more than 12 years, Choice Matters has been working to pass a clinic access bill here in Westchester – and last night we did it!  Monday night, the County passed and signed into law the safe Reproductive Health Care Facilities Access legislation we have fought so long for.

We have fought through multi-county legislative boards and county executives. We have lost ground to an anti-choice Republican county executive and to anti-choice Democratic legislators, but we kept on. (Remember: one foot in front of the other.)

Choice Matters never gave up. WE NEVER QUIT!

This means Westchester-ites as well as anyone coming to our county for healthcare will be greeted with a message: You Are Safe Here!

That’s a big “WOW!”

Yes, the US Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade, and we have a lot of work to do.

But Choice Matters knows how to fight back and we proved it again last night.

Last night was a win – a step in the right direction. Enough? No! But a step in the right direction, and today every step forward is good. Together we can do this. The important thing to remember is, “Don’t give up!” BELIEVE!”

We are RISING UP, with one step in from of the other. We can meet this ONCE-IN-A-GENERATION moment, and we can make lasting change. Please, we’ve never needed your support more than today.

Support Choice Matters and our one-foot-in-front-of-the-other campaign.  The work is hard and the road is long – but we can get there from here.

Is Religious Freedom Dead in the US?

By Matthew Bitterman

Since its independence, the United States has been a secular nation. The concept of separation of church and state is key, and written in our nation’s founding documents. Sadly, all three branches of the federal government have worked to erode this constitutional principle in recent years. Now, with an extremist majority in control, the US Supreme Court has taken a decisive step to completely do away with that cornerstone of governance.

Without uttering a single word, the leaked US Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe vs Wade clearly links religion and government.  The decision cites the primary reason to overturn Roe as the absence of the recognition of a right to privacy anywhere in the Constitution. This has long been argued by extremists like Rick Santorum as the reason several decisions were incorrectly decided and must be overturned. The recognition to the right to privacy is the cornerstone of decisions recognizing the right to same-sex marriage, to interracial marriage and to contraception. All of these decisions are adamantly opposed by religious extremists, and now by the new US Supreme Court majority.

The right to privacy is the key principle in each of these decisions. It is not mentioned in the Constitution, but neither are many other accepted parts of our daily lives. Can the Supreme Court only issue decisions based on the precise words found in the Constitution? If so, how can it issue a single decision about 21st century concerns such as personal use of the internet.

Each of the justices voting to overturn Roe, thereby enabling all US states and commonwealths to outlaw abortion, has a personal agenda driven in great part by their own religious views. Their inability to separate their person religious worship from their position on the bench is extremely unethical and runs in direct opposition to the founding principle of separation of church and state. This raises the question, how long will it be before Americans are forced to adopt a singular religious view, one – like in Nazi Germany or Russia or China – is dictated by the government and not individual belief? People came to this country to worship freely, away from dictatorial controls.

Individual religions regard abortion and contraception differently, as they do same-sex marriage. Individual people do too. The value of individualism has always been one presented as a cherished aspect of our lives here in the United States. Unfortunately, it is not regarded as it once was. (The Buffalo shooting and its tie to the “great replacement conspiracy theory”  are frightening evidence of that.)

Essentially if Roe vs Wade is officially overturned, religious freedom in the United States will have taken another step in the wrong direction. Personal belief will no longer be “personal”. It will be increasingly state regulated and decided.

LGBTQ+ People are effected by the overturning of Roe v. Wade too!

By Olivia Halligan

The first week of May was met with breaking news that the extremist majority of Supreme Court will most likely issue a decision overturning Roe v. WadeRoe established abortion as a constitutional right in the United States. Since the leaking of decision, protests have taken place around the Supreme Court, and NPR reporter Ayen Bior  with people about the effect this reversal would have on people in the LGBTQ+ community.

Alexis Rangel, a policy counselor at the National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE), stated, “Abortion rights and reproductive rights in this decision are about trans rights.” Rangel advocates for transgender rights by organizing in legislative offices at both the federal and state level. She points to the necessity of reproductive healthcare and abortion for transgender men and nonbinary people. Rangel was able to attend a midnight protest after the leaked decision was made public on the night of May 2nd, and she doesn’t plan on stopping there. LGBTQ+ activists warn of the dangers of overturning Roe v. Wade, specifically in vulnerable groups who could lose access to gender-affirming care.

Oneida, a senior national organizer for NCTE, feels attacks on other rights are just beginning. They said, “The tactics that we’re seeing on the attacks of abortion care, are the same tactics we’re seeing with gender-affirming care, and access to it. The attacks are on our health care providers, and then our vital body autonomy.” NCTE is discussing the impact of the reversal with lawmakers at the local, state, and federal levels. The organization is also pushing for the Senate to pass the Equality Act, which would expand protections for LGBTQ+ people.

“There’s a level of violence that comes from forcing people to be pregnant. There’s another layer when you’re trans, you know, issues of gender dysphoria,” says Oneida.

Cathryn Oakley, senior counsel at the Human Right Campaign declared, “The court is opening the door to having things like contraception be put at risk…What we really need now is outrage, anger and action for those among our community who are about to see the most destructive attack on our civil rights in a generation”

The harm that the reversal of Roe v. Wade will cause won’t stop at women’s rights. As Sarah Epperson (@sarah.epperson on instagram) states, “people of all gender identities need and have abortions”.

But what can you do to protect our reproductive rights?

Most importantly, vote. Get active. Join our email list to receive our voting guide, showing which candidates are pro-choice and which are anti-choice. You can also show your support by volunteering with and donating to Choice Matters.