Category: Updates

Secretary of State Clinton Puts Abortion Back On Foreign Policy Agenda

On Wednesday, while appearing before a House Foreign Affairs Committee Hearing, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton single-handedly put the issue of  safe abortion services back on the U.S. foreign policy agenda. And that is huge!

Clinton said, “Family planning is an important part of women’s health and reproductive health includes access to abortion, that I believe should be safe, legal and rare.”

She presented this as the Obama administration’s perspective, and in response to Rep. Chris Smith’s (R-NJ) attack on Margaret Sanger and the full range of birth control including abortion.

By including abortion as an integral part of women’s healthcare, Clinton stopped the insane political dance that has been going on since the early 1980’s.  As  Jodi Jacobson, RH Reality,  wrote so clearly “…Clinton spoke the truth and thereby shattered the myth that has existed for so long that we could talk about family planning, reproductive health, women’s rights, women’s health or even human rights, and not say the word ‘abortion.’ ”

Clinton broke ground with her statement. Jacobs correctly said,  Clinton’s remarks were the  “most courageous a secretary of state — or any administration official — has ever made on reproductive rights and one of the most courageous statements made by a secretary of state of any kind, on any issue, ever.”

Clinton as First Lady, then as Senator, and now as Secretary of State, has relentlessly championed women’s healthcare.  She has been unrelenting in her understanding, commitment, and advocacy.

To watch and hear Secretary of State Clinton’s remarks and response to Rep. Chris Smith:

The Day Has Come:17-Year-Olds in the USA Will be Able to Buy Plan B Without a Prescription

Today’s the Day! In compliance with the decision issued by Judge Korman of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York on March 23rd, the FDA will allow seventeen-year-olds to buy “morning-after” contraception known as Plan B without a doctor’s prescription–in other words, over-the-counter (otc). Men as well as women who are 17 or older can purchase Plan B.

That’s a big deal and the official end to this  protracted battle with the former  administration that placed its anti-birth control agenda  over the sound medical advice of its own FDA advisory boards! 

Special thanks to:
1. Hillary Clinton and Patty Murray who forced the FDA to act on Plan B in 2006;
2. Former assistant FDA Commissioner Susan Wood for taking a public stand;
3. The Center for Reproductive Rights for challenging the FDA in court;  and
4. Aliza Lederer-Plaskett for having the courage and fortitude to be the sole 17-year-old plaintiff in this lawsuit that has resulted in such a powerful victory.

 To start the ball rolling, Duramed, the manufacturer of Plan B, will now submit an application to the FDA to sell Plan B to 17-year-olds without a prescription.

In addition, it has been reported that the FDA is not appealing any part of the court’s ruling–meaning that the FDA is required to go back and reconsider the Citizen’s Petition  to make Plan B available otc to all women regardless of age and without additonal restrictions. 

“We are pleased that the F.D.A. is taking the necessary steps to comply with the court’s order,” said Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, whose 2005 lawsuit against the agency led to last month’s judicial decision. “It’s time the F.D.A. restores confidence in its ability to safeguard the public health and put medical science first.”

FDA Statement

Don’t like Abortion? Don’t have One.


Gov. Sarah Palin admitted to an anti-choice audience last Thursday that she considered having an abortion when she discovered that she was carrying a fetus with Down’s Syndrome. The speech was given to the Vanderburgh County Right to Life in Indiana.

It appears that Palin’s speech was intended to show the depth of her opposition to abortion. But–probably much to her dismay–her speech can  be applauded by the pro-choice community because it shows yet another  woman making a  choice.

Gov. Palin also mentioned her daughter’s choice to bear her child.

We are happy that the Palin family was able to make decisions about their pregnancies. Imagine if they had been  forced to abort their pregnancies because one had Down’s Syndrome and the other was conceived out of wed-lock.

Choice Matters and the reproductive rights community support all choices–whether to continue the pregnancy or not — and we will continue to fight to make sure that all women, including the Sarah and Bristol Palins of the world, can continue to have a choice.

Pro-Choice Resources Online – Coming Soon

Pro-choice Resources Sometimes, it feels like anti-choice extremists are everywhere and their sole purpose is to demonize abortion, and the women who have them.   They’re publishing books, pushing states to permit anti-choice license plates so that they can take the fees paid to benefit phony pregnancy crisis centers, and even building towns and developing colleges dedicated to eradicating the right to choose.

We have decided to fight back.  Choice Matters is launching  Pro-Choice Resources Online which will serve everyone looking to advocate for women’s rights.

Pro-Choice Resources Online  will be divided into two parts:
1. The Collective which is where we are assembling as broad a range as possible of pro-choice and progressive movies, websites, books, blogs, music, t-shirts, bumper stickers and more. Anything an advocate could want!

We are currently accepting suggestions of publications, movies, music–anything you think we should include. If you have one, please email it to us at

2. Our Archives which is composed of Choice Matters’ unique collection of articles, magazines, newspaper clippings and more, dating back to the early 1970’s.  This collection exists nowhere else and is a phenomenal resources for the pro-choice community.  We believe it will serve as an invaluable resource for those individuals, women’s studies programs, and even the media, who are seeking accurate historical information on abortion rights.

Join our mailing list to receive an e-mail message letting you know that Pro-Choice Resources Online site has launched!

Always Remember and Never Forget: A Leopard Never Changes Its Spots

Gov. Tim Kaine is a leopard, an anti-choice leopard for that matter, and Obama’s pick to head the Democratic National Committee (DNC), a position that Kaine will assume in 2010.

Heading the DNC is not a small job, as Howard Dean will attest. A key component of the position is that the Chair represents the Party and what it stands for—its platform—a vital element of which is abortion rights.

How can Kaine be the DNC Chair?
Very honestly, he can’t be the DNC Chair as it has always been defined, and he proved that this week.

Tim Kaine, in his capacity as Virginia’s governor, has decided to sign legislation that allows the sale of “Choose Life” specialty license plates.

The revenue of these sales will go to funding anti-choice crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs)–the same type of centers that NY’s attorney general investigated in 2002 for deceptive advertising and/or practicing medicine without a license. A so-called pregnancy resource center will get $15 of the $25 annual fee for each license plate after the first 1,000 are sold and will then distribute those funds to 40 CPCs.

Shock and Awe
Some pro-choice groups responded with surprise and outrage.

Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL saying, “It is unfortunate that, … Gov. Kaine has opted to sign a bill that advances a divisive political ideology at the expense of women’s health.” Paulette McElwain, president of the Virginia League for Planned Parenthood, said, “It is surprising that Gov. Kaine would do this, but it’s all the more surprising that he would do it as chair of the DNC.”

Silence is NOT Golden
Why are groups like NARAL and Planned Parenthood objecting now when they stood silently by as Kaine received the DNC job? They knew Kaine’s position on Choice. Naral Pro-Choice Virginia refused to endorse him in his gubernatorial race in 2005 because of his anti-choice record. When Kaine was being considered for the VP slot, Choice Matters and others worked fervently to oppose him because of his anti-abortion rights position.

Since Obama has taken office it is as though a silence has fallen across our nation. No one wants to speak out. You can’t be in issue-based politics and be quiet.

History has taught us that silence leads to genocide, corruption, and a full-scale destruction of our civil liberties.

Helping Obama
Obama has a track record of responding to push-backs, so to speak. When it looked as if anti-choice anti-healthcare Tennessee Governor Bredesen was to be the Health and Human Services nominee, we really pushed back. Now we have Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius, as we have Biden, not Kaine, for VP.

We elected Obama and now we must help him govern. That means speaking up loudly in criticism as well as praise.

Monday, March 23rd: A Big Day for Plan B!

Monday, March 23, 2009, was a big day for Plan B!

Judge Korman of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of   New  York ordered  the FDA to reconsider its decision to limit the OTC sale of Plan B to 18 years of age and older. It also ordered the FDA to act within 30 days to extend over-the-counter access to anyone 17 years of age and older.

This was an amazing victory pursued by the Center for Reproductive Rights.

Further, it is one that I am particularly excited by because my daughter and I were plaintiffs.

Aliza Led, I Followed
I am the president of WCLA – Choice Matters, one of the oldest pro-choice advocacy organizations in the country-but I must confess that it was Aliza who led the way.  I simply followed her.
Aliza knew about Plan B and believed strongly that it should be available to her and her friends.  She also adamantly believed that minors have a right to privacy.  When she overheard me telling my husband about possible legal action against the FDA concerning Plan B restrictions, she was determined to join the suit.  In all honesty, we were not so sure it was a good idea because we were concerned for her privacy, but she was resolute.  So, when the FDA finally decided to make Plan B over-the- counter for people 18 and older, she was ready to act!

Aliza’s Age
Aliza was one of  the  three teenagers  involved in bringing the suit.   In that Aliza was 16 when the motion was filed and turned 17 before the motion was fully briefed, she played a key role in the decision.  (The other two teenagers were both 13.)

Part of the text of the Summary Judgment stated:
“Aliza will turn 17 before this motion is fully briefed, and   thus falls into the category of women (who all scientists at FDA agreed could safely and appropriately use Plan B as an OTC drug, but are barred from doing so by the BTC regime), which imposes an age cut-off of 18.”

To read the Summary Judgment Brief: summary_judgment_brief_final
The full decision, 3/23/09: sjdecision
Press Release: CenterForReproductiveRightsPressRelease

Why Her Age Mattered
The significance of Aliza’s age was explained by Nan Strauss of the Center, in April 2007:
“Being 17, she [Aliza] cannot access EC OTC, based on the final FDA decision.  However, prior to that last decision setting the age limit at 18 (on 8/26/06), during 2005 and the beginning of 2006 Steven Galson, the director of the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, had placed the age restriction at 17…”
“No one at FDA has indicated any problem w/ the data showing that 17 year olds can use Plan B safely and appropriately.  The only basis for the restriction on women 17-18, is that the FDA wanted to set the age limit so that it would be in accordance with already existing age limits on products like tobacco and nicotine replacement products.  So it’s helpful to have someone in that in between group, for whom the added year of the restriction (the shift from 17 to 18) is significant, and totally unrelated to health, medicine, or science.”
“Only Aliza falls into the group of women for whom everyone at FDA says can safely use the drug, but can’t have OTC access because pharmacies are already accustomed to restricting certain products to people over 18.”

Aliza’s commitment, courage and action led to results for all teens across the nation.  I am so proud of her!

Friday the 13th was a Good Day for Plan B

Plan B in Yonkers   Friday was a great day! We were in  Yonkers educating people about Plan B which is a high dose of birth control that can stop a    woman from becoming pregnant if taken within 5 days of unprotected sex. It is more effective the sooner you take it.  If you take it  within 3 days, it is 89% effective.

   It is also called EC (emergency contraception) or the morning-after pill. Our blog on Plan B which tells you, among other things,  which pharmacies in Westchester stock Plan B, can be found at: OOPS Plan B Blog

   Karen Carroll-former coordinator of Westchester’s SANE program, Julie Frauenfelder of Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention and Services Program, and Yonkers City Council President Chuck Lesnick joined us in a call for education about Plan B. The Journal News and Channel 12 covered the Press Conference.

   Saturday we will be at the Yonkers Library.

  To buy a Plan B t-shirt, button, or any of the  other items that support this education project, click on:



Press Conference: PLan B, Women’s History Month and Bristol Palin

Just think, what might have been if Bristol Palin
had known about Plan B…



March 13, 2009 11 am

Yonkers City Hall Steps/South Broadway


YONKERS, NY:  On the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, President Obama said, “no matter what our views, we are united in our determination to prevent unintended pregnancies, reduce the need for abortion, and support women and families in the choices they make.”


On Friday, March 13, 2009 at 11 AM on the front steps of Yonkers City Hall, Choice Matters together with other women’s advocacy organizations including Victims Assistance Services, Julie Frauenfelder of Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention and Services Program, and Karen Carroll former Coordinator of the Westchester County Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) Program, will put President Obama’s words into action by taking The Emergency Contraception (EC) Initiative-Plan B Education and Awareness Outreach to the streets of Yonkers.


“Armed with a recorder, educational materials and the Oops-Plan B couch we will work to empower the women of Westchester through education to take control of their lives.  The significant increase in teen pregnancy rates in both Westchester and the Tri-State Area is alarming.  We stand together in our belief that the dissemination of proper and correct information about Plan B can play a key role in reversing this trend, and in our determination that it is crucial to educate the public — particularly women — about Plan B, a.k.a Emergency Contraception, EC, or the morning-after pill,” declared Catherine Lederer-Plaskett, president of Choice Matters.





1. Plan B is a high dose of birth control that can be taken up to 5 days after sexual intercourse to prevent pregnancy although it is most effective when taken sooner.  Plan B is in NO WAY an abortion pill as it CANNOT terminate a pregnancy and does NOT have an effect on an already existing pregnancy.  It also does not protect against STIs.  Plan B does provide an alternative method of pregnancy prevention and when used within the first 3 days of unprotected sex it is up to 89% effective.  It still works within the 5-day window but its effectiveness does significantly decrease. 


2. Plan B is available over the counter if you are 18 or older, and if you are under 18 it is still available but you need a prescription to receive it and the prescription can be both prescribed and filled without parental consent, which is in accordance with New York State law.


According to the Guttmacher Institute: 1.94 million unintended pregnancies–including almost 400,000 teen pregnancies—and 810,000 abortions are prevented each year by publicly funded family planning services that provided millions of young and low-income women access to contraceptive services which include Plan B. In addition to the number of unintended pregnancies Plan B and other contraceptives prevent, there is the issue of cost. Publicly funded family planning services are highly cost-effective. More than 9 in 10 women receiving them would be eligible for Medicaid-funded prenatal, delivery and postpartum care services if they became pregnant. Avoiding the significant costs associated with these unintended births saves taxpayers. For every dollar spent on contraceptives, taxpayers save $4 in costs associated with unintended births to mothers eligible for Medicaid-funded natal care. (Guttmacher Institute, Joerg Dreweke, 2/24/2009)





Applaud Yourselves and Get Ready for the Next Battle

We did it!  We pushed back and said that anti-choice, anti-woman, and anti-family Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen should not be  nominated to head the very important Department of Health and Human Services. And President Obama listened.

Instead we have a fantastic nominee-Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius.

The anti-choice organizations are fighting her nomination but with our support she’ll make it. But we need to show our support now.  The nomination process is expected to be tough.

Let President Obama and your US Senators know you want Kathleen Sebelius for Secretary of HHS.
Please contact the White House at 202-456-1111 (FAX: 202-456-2461, TTY/TDD 202-456-6213) and/or send them an email by using the form provided on the White House web site at

Click here to find your Senators and their contact information.

There is no time to waste.

Send Bristol Palin a T-shirt

Choice Matters Applauds Bristol Palin

Bristol Palin has declared she doesn’t believe in abstinence-only education because it’s “not realistic at all.”

The temptation is to be glib, to say “duh! You think after getting pregnant and having the baby, while a teenager in high school…” but that would be an easy shot and a meaningless one.

Yes, the fact that her mother—vehemently anti-choice and firm proponent of abstinence-only ed, Alaskan Governor and former VP candidate Sarah Palin—tried to turn the TV interview into a political moment to benefit herself, makes it hard not to make fun of this “come to Jesus” moment for the Palin family, but we must.

The Republican Party and then Democratic Party candidate Obama declared Bristol’s pregnancy off limits. It was a private family matter.

And we let them. It wasn’t private. It isn’t private and we should never have allowed them to hush us up. What it was was a phenomenal teaching moment!

You’d think we’d learn from our mistakes…but we don’t.  We made the same mistake with abortion. Back in 1973, women spoke out about having abortions.  They weren’t proud but they also weren’t ashamed. Abortions existed and so did the women who had them.  But somehow we allowed the tables to be turned on us. Women who exercised their right to terminate their pregnancies were suddenly whispered about and pushed into the closet.

NYS Governor Paterson, then a NYS Senator, gave one of the best speeches I ever heard on this exact topic. He spoke of the damage elected officials do when they champion the right to choose but then whisper about someone who has actually exercised that right.

Abortions are a medical procedure, and a civil right. We don’t whisper about people who exercise their civil right to vote.

The move is on to get women to come out of the shadows, to speak out so that the world will know how very many of us there are. An estimated 43% of all women will have at least one abortion by the time they are 45 years old.

Teen pregnancy is not a crime and Bristol Palin is not a criminal.

Bristol Palin is a white teenage girl from an upwardly mobile, church-going, two-parent Republican family who did what so many teenagers do; she had sex.  (See…it’s not race, Party, class, or economically determined behavior!) Without comprehensive sex ed in school and, most likely, not at home either, she probably did not use birth control. Regardless, she got pregnant. Given her statement that she wished it had happened ten years from now, it is safe to bet if she’d known more about contraceptives she would have used one.  And if the condom had broken or if she failed to use a contraceptive, she would have turned to PLAN B, emergency birth control which can be used up to five days after unprotected sex.

So let’s stop whispering and thank Bristol for coming out of the shadows.  She has hopefully started a national dialogue that is long overdue.

Choice Matters applauds Bristol for speaking out and would welcome her as our spokesperson. Choice Matters is sending Bristol one of our Plan B t-shirt with the hope that she will join us as our Plan B educator.

Let us know which T Shirt you want us to send to Bristol
Go to our OOPS-Plan B shop and view the options: (click here) or cut and paste:

Then email us your picks:

Hurry because there’s a lot of work to do be done…everywhere. Every time Bristol wears the shirt, you can bet someone will ask her about it.