Every year Choice Matters sends all candidates a questionnaire to establish her/his position on womenâ€™s reproductive rights.
This year Robert Castelli–the assemblyman for the 93rd districtâ€”used the New York State Catholic Conferenceâ€™s language on his questionnaire to argue against the Reproductive Health Act.
Castelli claimed that â€œit [the Reproductive Health Act] would close Catholic hospitals.â€
Thatâ€™s patently false and Castelli knows it. Ask him to show you where in the bill it says anything about requiring hospitals to provide specific services. He canâ€™t because it doesnâ€™t exist.
The Reproductive Health Act has nothing to do with hospitals. It is a bill, that if passed, would bring New Yorkâ€™s reproductive rights legislation in line with 21st century medical practices and the protection of womenâ€™s health.
In fact, the bill specifically references existing state and federal law that allows hospitals to NOT provide reproductive services if it is against its religious or moral principles.
Many reproductive rights advocates have met with Castelli to educate him about the Reproductive Health Act. I have also spent a lot of time speaking with him about the issues raised in our questionnaire.
It should be noted, Castelli did not say, â€œit will close religious hospitals.â€ He said, â€œCatholic hospitals.â€Â Why? Maybe because thatâ€™s the argument with which he was provided.
On October 28, 2010, in a speech to the Bishops of Brazil, the Pope declared, â€œBishops have the right to tell their citizens how to use their vote to promote the common good.â€
And that is exactly what the public policy voice for New York Bishops, the New York State Catholic Conference, does.Â Members meet with elected legislators, lay out the bills to which they object and provide the arguments legislators can use. (That is not separation of church and state!)
Castelli could have used other language like, â€œI oppose abortionâ€ or â€œI oppose contraception.â€ But he didnâ€™t because he wants to claim he is pro-choice. Castelli knows that if Westchester voters knew the truth, that Castelli is anti-choice, he never would have been elected.
â€œPro-choiceâ€ has become a marketing term in WestchesterÂ because Westchester voters vote Choice. Candidates who donâ€™t support womenâ€™s reproductive rights can be found announcing to a group of women, â€œI am pro-choice.â€– even if they only believe in abortion in cases of rape and incestâ€” and that we know is definitively anti-choice
Nan Hayworth claimed to be pro-choice. But once elected, Hayworth became a favorite of anti-choice groups. Â Hayworth currently boasts an 80% approval rating from the National Right to Life Organization; she has co-sponsored two of their bills and voted to de-fund Planned Parenthood. Â That sure doesnâ€™t sound like someone who is pro-choice to us.Â Does it to you?
Castelli has turned his back on Rockefeller Republicans and, instead, aligned himself with the far right agenda coming out of Washington.
Castelli has a record of voting against women.Â In each of the last three legislative sessions, Castelli opposed the Domestic Violence Escalation Prevention Act — a measure that would prevent domestic violence incidents from increasing in frequency and intensity by making it more difficult for perpetrators with a history of domestic violence to obtain guns.
Castelli also voted against the so-called microstamping bill in June that would have required all semi-automatic pistols manufactured or delivered to any licensed firearms dealer in the State of New York to be capable of micro-stamping ammunition resulting in a unique alpha-numeric or geometric code appear at least twice on each cartridge case. The code would make it easier for authorities to identify the make, model and serial number of the firearm. This bill was strongly supported by law enforcement agencies and opposed by gun manufacturers.