I confess. I read the obituaries regularly. I like to. They are a great glimpse into history. You read about people you may never have heard about and about accomplishments you may never have known occurred.
But, truthfully, what is omitted is more striking. With rare exception, there are no women – and the few people of color mentioned are men.
Some might argue that men generally die before their female spouses, and, therefore, there is no one left to write the obituary for the wife when she goes. Really??
The truth is that the men who inspire long obits and thanks from different boards did not reap their accomplishments on their own, but rather just did not share the public glory. This speaks to “behind every great man is a woman.”
I have had the pleasure of meeting many of these women, the wives who have outlived their successful husbands, and are still here providing the funds necessary for the not-for-profit world to survive. They recognize what abortion rights means, and what not having them also means. When we speak, I do not have to navigate the artificial obstacles – minors’ rights, emergency contraception, waiting periods, sonograms. Abortion is abortion – a necessary medical procedure that must be available to all regardless of age, race, religion or ability to pay. These women know and understand.
They are older now, and often rely on another woman, a housekeeper or an aide who is usually of color. Together these two women navigate their way. This is a relationship not to be romanticized but to be recognized.
Sometimes one or the other will share a story with me. They’ve usually been together a long time, and rely on one another. Their lives and station in society are without doubt very different, but they do have one thing in common: neither will be highlighted in The New York Times obituaries. The widow will, at most, be described as “Mrs. Joe Smith, the wife of the great…” The aide won’t even receive that mention.
This power to erase women’s accomplishments has not changed with time. In contrast to the chronicling of the deaths of younger men, when younger women die we are told the cause of death rather than what they did.
Perhaps, the true measure of how far we have, or have not, come and the thickness of the glass ceiling is found in the obituary column.
Dorothy Height – “The godmother to the Civil Rights Movement” President Barack Obama
A portrait of Dorothy Height is on the Black Heritage forever stamp this month. She was an amazing woman with more credits to her name than most of us could ever dream of. She spent almost 50 years of her life fighting for race and gender equality.
She helped organize the 1963 March on Washington, and was the only woman to stand on the stage with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Â But, despite being a march organizer and representing the National Council of Negro Women, she was not asked to speak.
Dorothy Height recognized a fundamental truth – a truth that we must embrace today. Women’s rights, including the right to choose – the very right to control your own body – encompasses all women and must, therefore, include all women on the front lines.
Height and other black women leaders sought to empower the black community to fight restrictions on abortion. The African-American Women for Reproductive Rights, an influential black political, social and grass-roots organization, gave voice to that.
We will include Dorothy Height on our 45th anniversary wall Recognizing the Pro-Choice Voter.
The irony that it took until Trump was in the White House for her image to appear on our 1st class postage stamp cannot be overlooked. Trump and his administration seek to Â destroy all we have fought for, for Â so many years â€“ including birth control and abortion rights. Dorothy Height’s portrait stands as a reminder that we can neither stand idly by nor can we isolate ourselves in groups as we wage this battle.
NYS Senators & IDC leading members Klein, Savino & CarlucciÂ claimÂ to be pro-choice BUT refuse to sign on as co-sponsors of the Reproductive Health Act*.
Just like you can’t be “a little bit pregnant”, you can’t be “a little bit pro-choice”. You cannot pick & choose civil rights.Â It’s all or nothing.
These 3 IDC traitors want women to vote for them, so they lie.
*They say, “We’re Pro-choice.”Â BUTÂ they do not supportÂ women having 21st century medical care.
*They do not support giving New York women the full constitutional protect guaranteed by Roe v. Wade.
*They do not supportÂ putting abortion careÂ in the health code.
*They support keeping abortionÂ in the penal code.
Because of them, if Astorino, or his equivalent, becomes governor, it will be easyÂ toÂ “tweek” the law and, potentially, end up prosecuting women and their doctors.
(You say that can’t happen here, but remember we also did not think Trump and his anti-choice, sexually abusive mentality would end up in the White House.)
(*The Reproductive Health Act wouldÂ guarantee New York women 21st century medical care, and the full constitutional protection of Roe; plusÂ it would putÂ abortion in the health code where it belongs, and removeÂ it from the penal code.)
Call Klein, Savino & Carlucci and Demand They sign on as Co-Sponsors of the Reproductive Health Act!
As we enter 2017, we must demand that Governor Cuomo STAND with the women of New York State.
Governor Cuomo used his powers: 1. toÂ pass the Marriage Equality Act; 2. to passÂ Sensible Gun Legislation, and 3. to pass Anti-Fracking Legislation.
Governor Cuomo must use those same powers to make New York a Reproductive Rights Sanctuary State.
To do so, he will need to oppose the IDC (so-called Independent Democratic Conference) comprised of 7 rogue members who work with the anti-choice Republican Senate at the expense of their constituents, simply for their own personal power grab.
Cuomo is up for re-election in 2018.
Tell him the TIME is NOW.
We must tell Governor Cuomo that he cannot turn a deaf ear to the women of New York.Â He cannot win without us.
Help us keep women’s reproductive rights on the front burner for Governor Cuomo.
Remind Cuomo, Donald Trump intends to overturn Roe v. Wade, take away funding from Planned Parenthood, cut Obamacare which will take away contraception from millions, appoint over 100 anti-choice federal judges plus U.S. Supreme Court Justices – and the list goes on.
This is the time for Governor Cuomo to stand up for women!
The U.S. Supreme Court just ruled,
in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt,
that Texasâ€™ HB 2 admitting privileges & surgical center requirements areunconstitutional!
This is a huge win for women everywhere!
Although this case only addresses this Texas law, the effect of this decision should have a much broader impact.
Approximately 24 other states have passed similar restrictions into law. Although the majority of these laws have been challenged, they have not made it to the U. S. Supreme Court.
Now there is a strong case to strike down similar laws in these other states.
The Details in the Ruling
It was a 5-3 decision with Justice Stephen Breyer writing the majority opinion on behalf of Justices Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Anthony Kennedy and himself.
> The ruling throws out an earlier Appellate Court decision which â€“ had it been upheld â€“ would have resulted in the closing of the vast majority of abortion clinics in Texas, leaving only 9 of the more than 40 that were functioning before the law was passed.
> This case centered on the question, had Texas lawmakers placed an â€œundue burdenâ€ on the constitutional right to an abortion with the new restrictions? The language â€œundue burdenâ€ was established in the 1992 landmark case Planned Parenthood v. Casey.
> In the Majority Opinion,Â the justices explained that the two parts of the Texas law being challenged create a â€œsubstantial obstacle in the path of womenâ€ who are seeking abortions and neither provision â€œoffers medical benefits sufficient to justify the burdens upon access that each imposes.â€ In other words, YES, Texasâ€™ HB 2 did place an â€œundue burdenâ€ on women!
(Texasâ€™ HB 2 had required doctors who performed abortions to have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles. The law also had required abortion clinics to meet the stricter standards of hospital-style â€œambulatory surgical centers.â€)
>Â Whole Womanâ€™s Health v. Hellerstedt is the first major Supreme Court decision on abortion since the 1992 Planned Parenthood v. Casey.
Letâ€™s Be Perfectly Clear
> Texasâ€™ HB 2 was never about protecting womenâ€™s health.
It was always about ending access to abortion!
> Texasâ€™ HB 2 is only one of the many anti-choice laws extremists have already passed in states across our nation. These laws are about obliterating abortion rights and access to birth control â€“ nothing less.
>Â The Republican National Platform includes a plank dedicated to opposing abortion.
(From the 2012 Platform: â€œFaithful to the “self-evident” truths enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, we assert the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed. We support a human life amendment to the Constitution and endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children.â€Â )
We Have Only One Choice!
>Â We must continue to fight on every front:
from County governments to State Governments to the Federal Government.
>Â Every Election Matters!
>Â We must now go on the offensive and fight for a Country where womenâ€™s comprehensive rights are valued and guaranteed!
Guess who was in Albany on Tuesday?
Anti-choice extremist, former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum!!!
You remember Rick â€“ he believes that the Supreme Court decisions allowing married and single women the right to birth control were wrong and should be overturned.
Why Albany?Â Santorum thinks New York is vulnerable. He was here joining with others to egg on anti-choice legislators to oppose bills protecting a womanâ€™s right to choose.
But that didnâ€™t stop Assemblywoman Deborah Glick who introduced a bill, A 6221, that would guarantee New York women the full constitutional protection of Roe v. Wade â€“ a protection sorely missing from New York law.
We desperately need to protect New York women from the horrific attacks being waged against us in states across the country and in Washington D.C. The passage of A 6221 is the way to do that!
Candidates’ OTC Birth Control Plans are a Raw Deal
This election season, many candidates, particularly Republicans,Â from Virginia to Colorado,Â are trying to run from their war on women voting records by coming out in support of over-the-counter (OTC) birth control. Make no mistake, they are targeting middle and low income women â€“ people who would not vote for them anyway!
Their proposal mightseem like they suddenly understand the need for increasing contraceptive access, but don’t be fooled!
These candidates just want women to pay for the full cost of their birth control, with no help from insurance coverage.These candidates are helping insurance companies, not women. (Note, they are not suggesting doing away with insurance coverage for Viagra.)
These candidates aren’t supporting women’s reproductive health — they’re attacking it.
According to theÂ American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), out-of-pocket costs prevent many women from consistently accessing birth control, and the most effective – and most expensive – methods, such as the intrauterine device (IUD), always require a visit to a health care provider. (So what about a doctorâ€™s visit is OTC?)
This OTC proposal comes from the same candidates who have pushed to restrict access to comprehensive reproductive health care.Â These same politicians have placed repealing the Affordable Care Act which would cover contraception as preventative care and cutting back on public clinic funding at the top of their agendas.Â These candidates want: NO preventative care coverage for annual exams, Pap smears, or contraception.Â
OTC contraception has a place in efforts to expand reproductive choice.Â People need access to services like emergency contraception on demand.Â ButÂ putting birth control in front of the counter is only the first step to ensuring comprehensive access.Â Women need policy makers who support a full spectrum of reproductive health decisions.Â Instead of doing away with insurance coverage for contraceptives, we need to expand it to cover Plan B, a very expensive OTC emergency contraceptive.
Women, donâ€™t be fooled. Don’t let these candidates stick women with the bill!
On May 23rd, Elliot Rodger murdered six people and wounded 13 more, at random, in Isla Vista, near the University of California Santa Barbara. The supposed reason: Women. In a 135-plus page, misogynist, autobiographical manifesto and multiple YouTube videos, he blamed all women and their disdain and sexual rejection of him for his rampage. His ideas are terrifying.
Yes, Elliot Rodgerâ€™s manifesto is extreme and thereby easy to dismiss as the rantings of a madman. But …â€œreading his manifesto, you can make out, through the distortions of his raging mind, the outlines of mainstream American cultural values”….”Rodger was crazier and more violent than most people, but his beliefs are on a continuum with misogynistic, class-based ideas that are held by many.â€ Sasha Weiss, The New Yorker
Amazingly, though, Rodgerâ€™s horrific actions and madman rantings have given rise to something wonderful and cause for hope: #YesAllWomen.Â Women have again found their voices.
For years many of us have struggled to find ways to get a broader spectrum of women involved in our struggle, the womenâ€™s rights struggle. This is not about humanism, but about feminism.Â Well, Elliot Rodgerâ€™s distorted views and violent random acts succeeded. He galvanized us in a way that has been long in coming.
â€œIn response [to Rodger], the hashtagÂ #YesAllWomen began to race across Twitter TWTR +1.48%. By [yesterday] afternoon, the tag had been used more than 1.8 million times according to tracking service Topsy. It linked stories of sexual violence, sexual harassment, and sexual fear across the networked world, as women reacted viscerally to both the horror of the crime and its commonality in their experience â€“ at least in its motivation. The hashtag was a harsh and unsubtle pushback against the pat and simplistic â€œnot all menâ€ rejoinder so often flung about when feminism threatens male sensitivities. And frankly, #YesAllWomenÂ was a vital moment in the still-growing power of loosely organized and decentralized feminist networks that are changing the landscape of social culture using platforms like Twitter and Facebook.â€ Tom Watson, Forbes
Please join the movement #YesAllWomen. Put it in your search engine and see what comes up.
There is another great feminist power field to tell you about: Know Your IX, founded by female college students who have been rape victims and were denied the protection guaranteed by Title IX.Â VisitÂ KnowYourIX.org and/or like them on Facebook. These women are shaking it up.
I want to yell, â€œTHANK YOUâ€ from the rooftops to all these women.
The end of abortion rights in New York State is coming, and not with a bang but with a whimper. Its demise is already in full swing. The cause is the election of politicians likeÂ Jeff Klein and Michael Kaplowitz who claimed to be pro-choice advocates to get our votes but then aligned themselves with anti-choice extremists immediately upon their election. The deceptive tactics of the Kleins and Kaplowitzs are effectively facilitating the erosion of a womanâ€™s right to choose right here, right now.
These elected officials – Klein to the New York State Senate and Kaplowitz to the Westchester County Legislature – lied to the pro-choice community to get elected, and then consciously turned their backs on their constituents for their own political gain.
Why? Because New York State is a pro-choice state with the vast majority of voters supporting comprehensive reproductive rights, which includes abortion. Eighty percent of New Yorkers support the passage of the Reproductive Health Act â€œwhich is aimed at protecting reproductive freedom for women, ensuring a womanâ€™s right to make private health care decisions regarding pregnancy. At least two-thirds of voters from every party, region and demographic group support it, with the exception of self-identified conservatives who support it 64-29 percent.â€Â Sienna Research Institute
Decisions Made for Personal Gain, at Our Expense Jeff Klein, immediately after being re-elected to the New York State Senate to represent SD 34 (Pelham and part of Mount Vernon and the Bronx), aligned himself with the Republican anti-choice extremist Dean Skelos. Klein claimed it was an act of independence. In reality, it was a power-grab by a self-absorbed, egocentric politician who thought it was more important to enhance his own personal power than to stand up for women who elected him and make up his constituency.
Did you know that it was Senator Klein who refused to bring the 10-point Womenâ€™s Equality Agenda to the floor of the Senate for a vote â€“ just because anti-choice Skelos did not approve?
Unfortunately,Â Klein would rather stand with Skelos than with the women of New Yorkâ€”and Klein doesn’t care that by doing so, he,Â Klein,Â isÂ empowering and advancing an anti-choice agenda.
Let’s remember thatÂ Jeff Klein, when he served as a NYS Assemblyman, used WCLA â€“ Choice Matters and the issue of Choice to win his primary for New York State Senate. Klein swore then, as he has every election since, that nothing would stand between him and fighting for a womanâ€™s right to comprehensive reproductive rights – which includes the right to have an abortion. Clearly, he lied.
And then we haveÂ Michael KaplowitzÂ who was just re-elected to represent CLD 4 (New Castle and parts of Yorktown, and Somers). Kaplowitz has had his eye on being Westchester County Board Chairman for years. So, as soon as he was re-elected, Kaplowitz went to the anti-choice legislators with whom he had voted to pass the 2012 budget that guttedÂ funding to community health centers, food pantries and senior nutrition programs, and dramatically raised the cost ofÂ childcare, to negotiate his deal. Kaplowitz agreed to support Jim Maisano(who voted against ensuring safe access to reproductive health care clinics) for the position of Westchester County Board Vice – Chairman and to appoint Sheila Marcotte (who opposes abortion rights even in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the woman) as Budget Committee ChairpersonÂ in exchange for making Kaplowitz the new Westchester County Board Chairman.Â
It is important to understand that the Budget Committee is, in fact, the most important committee for womenâ€™s rights. The departments that relate to women and families comprise a large portion of the county budget. The Budget Chairperson decides what will appear on the agenda and who will be heard.
Kaplowitz single-handedly empowered the anti-choice minority on the BoardÂ at the expense of women throughout Westchester County. Now this minority can work with Westchesterâ€™s right-to-life extremist County Executive who has already imprinted an anti-choice agenda on his administration – ending sex education funding, receiving awards for abstinence-only program support and vetoing the most basic of rights, safe access to reproductive health care. Kaplowitz, personally, has empowered this County Executive zealot, Rob Astorino, who called abortion â€œa straw manâ€ as he prepares to run for governor.
Call to Action
These men â€“ Klein and Kaplowitz â€“ are just twoÂ examples of politicians who have betrayed our trust, pretending to be our allies while working against us. They made promises to the pro-choice majority and are reneging. They are hurting us on the local and state levels, and they think we are not smart enough to see through their charade.
But I know they’re wrong because we have you â€” and it’s your commitment, your unwavering dedication to protecting women’s health and rights that will make the difference this year. Please, make your gift right now.