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Now is the time: Come Rally with Us!

June 13, 2013

Here’s the short version – Pass the Women’s Equality Act! Come to a rally near you. We have one Friday at noon in the Bronx (Jeff Klein’s district) and one Saturday at 11 in Lynbrook (Dean Skelos’s district). Bring a friend, your chanting voice, and a sign expressing your support for WEA.

There is one week left to the New York State legislative session. New York is poised to pass a sweeping reform to state law that will break down the legal barriers women face in all walks of life – housing, work, health care, the legal system. Governor Cuomo’s Women’s Equality Act was first revealed in his January State of the State speech, and the bill was introduced into the legislature on June 4. In between, a coalition of more than 850 businesses, labor unions, women’s rights and civil rights organizations, and religiously-affiliated agencies came together to support it. 850 organizations – and 126 of them on Long Island, the seat of the Senate Coalition Leader Dean Skelos & our own Senator Phil Boyle, who was considered a potential swing vote.

This week, late on Monday, Senator Phil Boyle announced that he does not support the abortion provision of the Women’s Equality Act. So, we rallied last night to demand that he change his mind (more on this below). Frankly, I’m hoping that he is talking to Senator Tim Kennedy of Buffalo – who has not yet revealed what he thinks of the bill – but has said,

I believe that when it comes to the life and health of a mother, there are circumstances, unfortunately, (in which) individuals have to make very difficult decisions that have an impact on their lives.

The truth is, abortion is an intensely personal and often complex decision for a woman. I don’t believe you can make that decision for someone else, and neither do the 80% of New Yorkers who support the WEA. No matter the circumstances, I am not in her shoes, I will not judge her. Ultimately, decisions about whether to choose adoption, end a pregnancy, or raise a child must be left to a woman, her family (as she defines it – often this does include parents and partners), and her faith – with the counsel of her health care provider. Abortion needs to remain a safe and legal medical procedure for a woman to consider, if and when she needs it. That’s the point of this particular provision of WEA – so that we don’t have to pay a price for being the first state in the nation if Roe ever falls. I’m referring to the fact that New York was the first state in the nation to make abortion legal – but our law hasn’t changed since 1970 – and so much else has, including federal case laws. Roe isn’t safe (did you read my post about ND and AR?). Let’s not wait & see – let’s take action now.

What action can you take?

Come to a rally near you: We have one Friday at noon in the Bronx (Jeff Klein’s district – he is co-leading the Senate with Dean Skelos) and one Saturday at 11 in Lynbrook (Dean Skelos’s district). Bring a friend, your chanting voice, and a sign expressing your support for WEA. Need some inspiration for a sign? Check this out…

On Tuesday night, 35 Long Islanders – most of them constituents – demanded that Sen. Boyle change his mind and support the WEA. We chanted “Shame on Phil Boyle,” shame for thinking he has the right to insert himself into the personal medical decisions that women face, sometimes in the most difficult of circumstances. Lillian Clayman, with the LI Federation of Labor, Nancy O’Keefe, with Planned Parenthood of Nassau County, and Sheila Herson, Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic Action Fund’s own volunteer extraordinaire, shared their reasons why Phil Boyle should support this bill. Sheila spoke as a Republican, and stated,

I have never believed that small government means putting politicians in an exam room with a woman and her doctor.

What else can you do?

Emailing your State Senator is, of course, always an option. Frankly, whether you come out to the rally or make a phone call or do something else, email should be in addition to, not in place of.

Call Senators Phil Boyle, Dean Skelos, and Jeff Klein (Klein and Skelos are co-leaders, supposedly if they agree on a bill then it will come to the floor). Tell them why YOU think New York State should pass the Women’s Equality Act. If you’re a constituent of Sen. Boyle, tell him how disappointed you are that he calls himself “pro-choice” yet is against codifying Roe v. Wade in state law. Here, let me give you their phone numbers:

Phil Boyle: (518) 455-3411 or (631)  665-2311

Dean Skelos: (518) 455-3171 or (516)  766-8383

Jeff Klein: (516) 455-3595 or (718) 822-2049

Take action today. We have waited long enough.

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