Tag: vote

As We Move Forward, DEMAND Change!

by Catherine Lederer-Plaskett
President/Chair of the Board

The successful appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court is more than disturbing.  Survivors from all over the country spoke out and millions called, protested, and marched. Chief Justice Roberts received numerous misconduct complaints against Kavanaugh from the DC Court of Appeals, which Roberts has refused to investigate. Kavanaugh lied under oath to the US Senate. The so-called FBI investigation refused to interview the many who offered credible information. And during his own testimony, Kavanaugh showed that he does not have the temperament for the job. But still, the Senate voted to confirm him.

This is not the first time this group of white old men rammed a candidate onto the Supreme Court, and unless we work smart it will not be the last.

  1. Susan Collins is proof of a Choice Matters’ mantra: If being pro-choice is not at the top of a candidate’s agenda, not one of the top five issues, that person is of NO USE TO WOMEN. We will not support you. We will not tolerate lip service. Collins’ false narrative that she’s pro-choice and pro-woman has been exposed. The IDC members made the same false claims and we ousted 6 of them in the September Primary. Now it’s time to take Collins out. She’s up for re-election in 2020. We must be ready to work starting November 7th.
  2. Unbelievable as it may seem, many women took this personally – not as surviviors but as the mothers of sons. They bought Trump’s narative that it is a horrible time for men. Some of these very women identify as “progressives” but still they blame the “girls”. As a sexual assault victim and the mother of 2 sons – 2 black sons – the population most likely to be falsely accused of any crime, I trust my sons AND  I believe women.  People need to take responsibility for their actions, and that includes how we raise our children. And,
  3. Holding up a mirror. Democrats are guilty of some of the same behavior for which they attack Republicans. In Westchester, the top elected offices are all held by men, and both political parties are lead by men. It is time for this to change, and women must demand it!

Millennials, Listen Up!

As I walked out of my small high school in a rural southern town on my final day of classes, I was excited about all of the possibilities that awaited me when I reached college.

One was the prospect of being surrounded by politically like-minded individuals at the liberal arts school I would attend in the fall. I naively thought that because of this relocation, I would never have to bang my head against the wall after hearing a fellow student’s comments on politics ever again. I was entirely wrong. Although the political climate here is much less hostile than it is at home, it still seems that there’s a disconnect between what’s happening politically and the students who call themselves activists.

Many of them have never voted even though the majority of them are of legal voting age. They’re perfectly content to protest outside Trump Tower on the weekends, but when it comes to mobilizing voters and going to the polls themselves, they fall painfully short. Additionally, there is too much focus placed on Trump’s personal issues. As awful as Trump can be, spending too much time gossiping about his relationship with a porn star and discussing his latest inflammatory tweet won’t do anything to prevent his political agenda from succeeding.

Millennials – the non-voting majority!

Millennials have to step up our game if we want anything to change. We are now the largest voting-eligible generation in the country! This power that we have is being undercut, however, by the fact that we have the lowest voter turnout rate of any age group. This is completely unacceptable. It is fair to feel disempowered when we are young and our elected officials seem so out of touch. It is fair to be frustrated. However, it is up to us to change that.

Millennials have the numbers now to turn the tide of elections. We have to stay informed, research candidates, and support the ones we believe in. Even when there are no candidates that perfectly align with our desires, that does not mean we have a free pass to sit out. We must – in these cases – vote preventatively to keep the people who seek to destroy our rights out of office. We must fight back against conservatives whose mission it is to tear us away from our contraceptives and our access to safe and legal abortions. We must fight back against candidates that have been accused of crimes such as sexual assault and sexual harassment. We must fight back against candidates who seek to take away power from women in any way.

Our days of being trapped in the kitchen voiceless and oppressed are over and we must keep it that way. Any time we choose to sit out an election is a time when we could have kept such candidates out of office with our votes. Let this serve as a call to action. Take your anger not only to the streets, but to the polls and to the offices of your representatives.

A Few Salient Points for the Election

Be kind to your neighbor.
Many people can’t get to the polls. Age, weather, physical impairments or simply no transportation can stop a person from voting. Don’t let that happen. Lend a hand and a ride. You can also call: 914-946-5363 and we’ll find you transportation. We all need to vote.

This year’s election is more than the presidential race alone.
Voting all the way down the ballot matters! REMEMBER: Determining who is in the White House, and who controls Congress, the New York State Senate and the Assembly will decide what laws protecting women’s rights do or don’t get passed. Who is elected Westchester District Attorney will determine whether those laws are enforced.

When Roe v. Wade became the law of the land in 1973, other pro-choice advocacy organizations across the country packed up, believing the war was won. We did not. We recognized that women’s reproductive rights would always be under attack and that protecting our rights would require constant vigilance. We were right! We see that again today in New York State, even though our state – even now – does not guarantee women the full protection of Roe v. Wade; abortion remains in NYS’s penal code; and NY women are denied 21st century medical care. Some groups like NARAL ProChoice NY which closed in January and Empire Pride which closed last December, are gone. But we are here. The fight is hard but definitely worth waging. WCLA – Choice Matters has been here for pro-choice voters for more than 43 years. WE DELIVER and we will continue to do so! In the Special Election in April, WCLA PAC went to Nassau County and made the difference in NYS Senate District #9 – winning by getting pro-choice voters to the polls. 780 votes put that seat in the Pro-Choice column! Our work requires your support. We don’t need massive SUPER PAC money to succeed, but we do need your contributions. As we’ve clearly demonstrated, we spend our funds wisely. The more you invest in us, the greater our impact will be on New York State and federal politics. It starts with a donation from you. Please make a contribution today.

Seemingly Insurmountable Challenges, Our Unprecedented Victories & the On-going War on Women

Why, after electing a pro-choice president to a second term, increasing the number of pro-choice elected officials in Congress and in Albany, and electing an historic number of pro-choice women to office in Washington, does it still feel like 1965?

Despite predictions to the contrary, the economy was not the only issue considered by voters on Election Day. Women’s rights were front and center in our minds. For the past decade, the electorate has been confronted by a real war on women, one that has truly impacted our economic independence and our rights. Unbelievably, we are once again negotiating the terms by which women are allowed access to contraceptives, not to mention abortion. Not since the Griswold v. Connecticut decision (1965), in which the Supreme Court ruled that states cannot deny married couples* access to contraception, have we been subject to such an invasion of our “right to privacy”, a right the High Court found within the U.S. Constitution. This was the first presidential election in U.S. history that determined whether access to contraception would be significantly increased or dramatically decreased. On Tuesday, November 6th, we used our ballots to respond.

Our support for pro-choice candidates resulted in unprecedented victories. We elected our endorsed candidates at all levels of government, sending a record number of pro-choice women to Washington. Ninety-one percent of the candidates WCLA – Choice Matters endorsed, won!

Choice Matters is particularly proud of our victories in two races: the 37th NYS Senate District where George Latimer was victorious, despite being outspent by historic proportions in a state senate race; and in the 93rd NYS Assembly District where David Buchwald defeated an anti-choice incumbent. We were told we didn’t stand a chance, but guess what – we won! As Latimer’s campaign manager told me, “We couldn’t have done it without you!”

But, despite our wins, the majority of the representatives in the United States Congress and in the New York State Senate are anti-choice. And dozens of statehouses across the country remain poised to pass anti-woman legislation. The election may be over but the battle is not. Choice Matters needs you to help us keep New York moving in the right direction.

Right here in New York, Assemblyman Katz, 94 A.D., promises the first bill introduced in Albany this legislative session will be one to defund Planned Parenthood. New York’s anti-choice Senate refuses to even bring the Reproductive Health Act up for a vote. In Congress, the big budget fight is being led by former vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan, famous for his view that “rape is just another method of conception”, who believes this is their best chance to cut the federal family-planning program and take away cancer screenings, maternity care, and affordable birth control from millions of women and families.

Here in Westchester, anti-choice extremist County Executive Astorino who opposes abortion even in cases of rape, incest or to save a woman’s life, vetoed a law which would have provided women the most basic of rights – safe access to reproductive health facilities. Surrounding himself with seven anti-choice legislators, all of whom voted against safe clinic access, Rob Astorino has brought the War on Women and our Families home to Westchester–and his seven allies are helping him target the most vulnerable. They have cut funding for childcare and afterschool programs that would have enabled women to work; and four of them even voted to cut transportation for seniors. Astorino’s 2013 budget cuts $3 million in county funding to three neighborhood health centers. (For more, read our Westchester County Board Passes Paul Ryan’s Budget.)

Choice Matters is calling on you to help us with our next big challenge. We need to educate Westchester voters about this County Executive and his own personal war on women. Westchester deserves a pro-choice leader who will work to build up our county and its infrastructure, not one who puts politics before the welfare of the county, incorporating his extreme ideology into all of his governmental policies. The battle begins now.

I think you agree with me when I say politics has no place in our fundamental reproductive rights. Make a gift to Choice Matters to support our work.

Choice Matters has been standing strong since 1972! That’s 40 years! Using Choice Matters’ ProChoice IDEA – Identification, Education and Activation, we have 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 in each and every year. It is this amazing database that made us victorious in the 37th NYS Senatorial District and the 93rd NYS Assembly District this year!

Your support makes it possible for us to send everyone in our database our ProChoice voting guide 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 IDEA 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 for 40 years. We hope you will continue to do so. Your contribution — for as much as you can afford — will help make a difference. No contribution is too small, or too large as every dollar truly counts. Please email or mail your contribution today. (Click here!)

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

* (Eisenstadt v. Baird, 1972, extended the right to single people.)

Choice Matters’ 2011 Chicken of the Year Award

Choice Matters’ 2011 Chicken of the Year Award Goes to
The Gang of Six
—Democratic County Legislator John Nonna and five of his fellow Democratic Legislators—for sitting down when they should have stood up!

After months of discussion, review, and dissection, the Clinic Access Bill—that would ensure women safe access to reproductive health centers—was voted out of Committee and sent to the Westchester County Board of Legislators for a vote.

All that was expected of the legislators was a vote.  A simple up or down vote.  Vote “YES” and we know that you stand with the women of Westchester; vote “N0” and we know you are against us. Really, that simple.

The Gang of Six had the opportunity to join with other Democratic and Republican legislators to vote to protect the safety of women entering and exiting reproductive health centers.  But, they chickened out.

What did this Democratic Gang of Six do instead? After three long hours of a Public Hearing, primarily by people who believe the fetus is more important than the woman and who have clearly never heard of the separation of Church and State, John Nonna – with his gang’s support —recommitted the Bill. To recommit is basically a procedural move used to avoid a vote.  The Bill is sent back to Committee where it can easily be allowed to “die”, perhaps never seeing the light of day again.  It is “again” because the last time that happened was more than a decade ago!!!

Make no mistake about it—this move by The Gang of Six to avoid a public vote was as much an anti-choice vote as any taken in Congress. The Gang of Six denied Westchester’s women safe passage to accessing our constitutionally recognized rights to reproductive health care.

And the women of Westchester know The Gang of Six voted against women and are anti-choice. Since our last email we have received innumerable calls demanding to know when these Democrats became anti-choice–And by the way, that’s the way we see it too.

This Gang of Democrats has made a very poor calculation and unwise decision. This Gang thinks we will not broadcast their actions because they are Democrats.

Choice Matters is a non-partisan organization and very proud of that fact. We hold all candidates and elected officials accountable, regardless of party affiliation and will continue to do so.

When the Republican-led House of Representatives passed legislation to let women die on a hospital floor rather than perform an abortion procedure that would save her life, we told you how many Republicans and Democrats voted in support of this anti-woman legislation.

Choice Matters will not protect legislators who turn their back on a woman’s right to choose.

What you should know about The Gang of Six: 1). Each of these six legislators had previously committed to supporting clinic access legislation; 2). Each of these legislators is male and a Democrat; and 3). Three of these legislators were not re-elected.

We Challenge You,
Westchester County Board of Legislators!

There is a majority of County Legislators who claim to be pro-choice. If they are truly pro-choice, they must bring this legislation to the floor for a vote immediately.

We will then see who stands with us, and who stands against us.

If they do not bring it to the floor, or they voted against it, we will find candidates to challenge these legislators. We have no use for empty suits!

More than a decade ago, Senator Andrea Stewart Cousins and Assemblyman Tom Abinanti, then County Legislators, fought to ensure that women had safe access to women’s reproductive health centers. Unfortunately, they were not successful.

It took us more than ten years to get to this point, and our “leaders” ignored us, turning back the clock.  No one can blame the Right-to-Life County Executive.  It didn’t even get to his desk!

For the record, 1. The Bill was carefully reviewed to make sure that it was 100% in compliance with First Amendment rights – for all parties involved; and, 2. There is no other law–not state or federal–that presently protects Westchester’s women’s safety as they enter health centers.

We are putting you on notice,
County Legislators:
Stand up for the women of Westchester, or get replaced!!

2011 – The Number of Abortion Restrictions At An All Time High

According to a new Guttmacher Report, in the last six months—from the beginning of January through the end of June—states across the country have enacted a record breaking 162 new laws or changes to current law that impact our reproductive health care and rights. Of those, 49% (80 new laws!) are targeted at restricting access to abortion. The 80 new laws are more than double the record set in 2005 of 34 enacted restrictions, and triple last year’s number of 23.

New laws in five states seek to ban abortion completely after 20 weeks, and Ohio wants to ban it as soon as a fetal heartbeat can be detected, at approximately eight weeks. (All of this appears to conflict with existing Supreme Court precedent that prohibits bans on abortion prior to viability, which occurs  several weeks later—but with today’s Supreme Court, who knows.) These 2011 changes have all occurred in just 19 states.

New York?
The bad news is that it can and is happening here in New York.

Just last week, a Federal Court judge for the Southern District of New York, Federal Judge William Pauley, blocked New York City from enforcing its new law requiring Crisis Pregnancy Centers (CPCs)* to disclose what services they do and do not provide. The focus of the law was/is transparency. It had been carefully studied to ensure protection of First Amendment rights of all involved.

The meaning inherent in the judge’s decision is that it is okay to trick women, and to mislead us about to the full range of medical services of which we might legally avail ourselves.

In Albany every year, we battle back against anti-choice legislation. This past May, Assemblyman Katz, newly elected to represent the 99 A.D., introduced a bill, A07841, that calls for “no state aid allocated, transferred, or given to the organization known as Planned Parenthood or any of such organization’s affiliated entities or any organization which performs abortions.”  Our pro-choice elected officials were waiting!

Even under a Democratically controlled State Senate in 2009, we could not get a vote to pass the much needed Reproductive Health Act that would update New York State’s abortion law, establish a fundamental right to reproductive privacy, treat the regulation of  abortion as an issue of public health and medical practice, and remove it from the penal code provisions.

The Vote
We are represented by those whom we elect. Last November, voters across the country turned out in droves to vote for anyone promising to reduce taxes and who was not an incumbent—no questions asked. No questions about Choice, about Jobs, about the Environment-nothing. Candidates only needed to disparage the then-office holders and all existing programs. They were not asked to offer a single concrete course of action.

And it worked. Disguised as concerned citizens, extremists with right-wing anti-social agendas were able to get elected to State and Federal government. The key was to avoid discussion about social issues but to promise key supporters to advance their ultra-conservative agendas.

That is exactly how we ended up with this record-breaking number of anti-abortion restrictions. Our rights are too hard to come by to allow this to happen again, not in Albany, not in Westchester County and not in Washington D.C.