NY Planned Parenthood to Ford: You’re Not Pro-Choice

Rachel Larris

Planned Parenthood Advocates of New York has a message for Harold Ford Jr. Stop calling yourself a pro-choice politician.

Parenthood Advocates of New York has a message for Harold Ford Jr.: Stop calling
yourself a pro-choice politician.

M. Tracey Brooks,
president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Advocates of New York issued
a statement to Ford on Friday.

A prochoice representative supports
a women’s right to access safe, legal, comprehensive reproductive health care
without government interference.

Ford’s voting record and recent
public statements prove that he does not trust women to make their own
decisions. He cannot claim to be supportive of our issues when, as a Tennessee
Congressman, he demonstrated that he is clearly not prochoice.

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Planned Parenthood Action Fund did
not endorse Ford in his elections for Congress in 2000 or 2004, nor for his
Senate bid in 2006.

New Yorkers demand that 100 percent
pro-choice champions represent them in the U.S. Senate. If Ford wants to
understand the true definition of a pro-choice individual, he need only look at
the voting records of New York’s U.S. Senators and compare them with his own.

Two weeks ago Ford held
a meeting with NARAL Pro-Choice New York
President Kelli Conlin, after
which she said wouldn’t call him "anti-choice" but nor
would she call him "pro-choice."  

Ford appeared on
NBC’s Meet the Press last Sunday and continued
to press his position on reproductive rights.

MR. GREGORY:  What about–the question of whether
you’re pro choice or pro life has come up.  Final question on this, which
is would you support parental notification in New York, something it now does
not have?

REP. FORD:  I have–in the
Congress, I’ve voted against late-term abortion–voted for–against late-term
abortions.  I am pro choice.  The record has been distorted. 
The president of a–the Tennessee Planned Parenthood has said that Harold is
pro choice.  He’s a friend.  My wife is pro choice.  I can
assure you–who I wish happy Valentine’s Day to this morning–if I were not pro
choice, my wife nor my mother–Mom, happy Valentine’s Day, too…

MR. GREGORY:  Right.

REP. FORD:  …they neither
would allow me in their homes if I were not.

MR. GREGORY:  Parental
notification in New York, do you support it?

REP. FORD:  I’m for–I’m for
parental notification other than extreme cases, where a judge may have to be
involved if there’s, if there’s a dispute between a child and a family. 
If you–if your daughter can’t go to an NR-17 movie, David, without some
notification, it would seem to me that a family ought to be made aware of some
of these.

In an interview
with RH RealityCheck on Tuesday, M. Tracey Brooks said she still doesn’t
believe Ford can call himself pro-choice, especially to New Yorkers.

continues to cling to anti-choice positions which limit teenagers’ ability to
access a full-range of reproductive healthcare … [and] limit the help [women] can access,"
Brook said, referring to Ford’s continued support for parental notification and well as the partial-birth
abortion ban. "Pro-choice legislators trust
women to make their own healthcare decisions and they support access to a full
range of reproductive healthcare options, including abortion — regardless of
whether it is politically  popular and
especially when it protects a women’s health. And his record in Congress did
not do that."

Brooks said that
Ford’s office has not reached out to Planned Parenthood for a meeting as he
requested of NARAL.

importantly, Brooks said, why throw over a pro-choice "champion" like Sen.
Kirsten Gillibrand for someone like Ford who "wavers" on this issue?

"We don’t endorse anyone who is not 100% prochoice and that
record [on partial-birth and parental leave] would not gain you 100% rating on
our questionnaire. It is the role of advocacy groups to be able to
differentiate between somebody like Harold Ford, who has a voting record very
different from our New York senators.

"In New York we have two
strong pro-choice champions that our nation, not only our state, relies on to
beat back bad bills that hurt women’s access and ability to have a full range
of reproductive healthcare. There would be no reason that New York would want
to send anybody with a different record than our two U.S. senators on this
issue to the Senate."

Ford has
claimed that pro-choice organizations have applied to him a double standard, giving Gillibrand more
leeway for her vote for healthcare reform despite the restrictions on abortion coverage in the current legislation, a vote
he says he would have opposed
, than their stated stance of needing 100 percent for pro-choice positions all the time.

Brooks answer to that is "healthcare reform’s not
over yet. And Sen. Gillibrand has been in the trenches fighting for us this
whole time, so that issue’s not over yet."

As part of his plan to meet with traditional groups of Democratic supporters, Ford is set to meet with the Stonewall
Democratic Club
on Wednesday. Brooks said that Ford hasn’t picked up any
support since announcing a month ago he was interested in potentially seeking
the Democratic nomination.

"I think the biggest piece of this is [that] as Mr. Ford is talking
to New Yorkers, he hasn’t caught on to where our values lie and [these values go] beyond
just our issue of reproductive health care. Mr. Ford is making himself less and
less relevant in this conversation," Brooks said.

Roundups Politics

Campaign Week in Review: ‘If You Don’t Vote … You Are Trifling’

Ally Boguhn

The chair of the Democratic National Convention (DNC) this week blasted those who sit out on Election Day, and mothers who lost children to gun violence were given a platform at the party's convention.

The chair of the Democratic National Convention (DNC) this week blasted those who sit out on Election Day, and mothers who lost children to gun violence were given a platform at the party’s convention.

DNC Chair Marcia Fudge: “If You Don’t Vote, You Are Ungrateful, You Are Lazy, and You Are Trifling”

The chair of the 2016 Democratic National Convention, Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH), criticized those who choose to sit out the election while speaking on the final day of the convention.

“If you want a decent education for your children, you had better vote,” Fudge told the party’s women’s caucus, which had convened to discuss what is at stake for women and reproductive health and rights this election season.

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“If you want to make sure that hungry children are fed, you had better vote,” said Fudge. “If you want to be sure that all the women who survive solely on Social Security will not go into poverty immediately, you had better vote.”

“And if you don’t vote, let me tell you something, there is no excuse for you. If you don’t vote, you don’t count,” she said.

“So as I leave, I’m just going to say this to you. You tell them I said it, and I’m not hesitant about it. If you don’t vote, you are ungrateful, you are lazy, and you are trifling.”

The congresswoman’s website notes that she represents a state where some legislators have “attempted to suppress voting by certain populations” by pushing voting restrictions that “hit vulnerable communities the hardest.”

Ohio has recently made headlines for enacting changes that would make it harder to vote, including rolling back the state’s early voting period and purging its voter rolls of those who have not voted for six years.

Fudge, however, has worked to expand access to voting by co-sponsoring the federal Voting Rights Amendment Act, which would restore the protections of the Voting Rights Act that were stripped by the Supreme Court in Shelby County v. Holder.

“Mothers of the Movement” Take the National Spotlight

In July 2015, the Waller County Sheriff’s Office released a statement that 28-year-old Sandra Bland had been found dead in her jail cell that morning due to “what appears to be self-asphyxiation.” Though police attempted to paint the death a suicide, Bland’s family has denied that she would have ended her own life given that she had just secured a new job and had not displayed any suicidal tendencies.

Bland’s death sparked national outcry from activists who demanded an investigation, and inspired the hashtag #SayHerName to draw attention to the deaths of Black women who died at the hands of police.

Tuesday night at the DNC, Bland’s mother, Geneva Reed-Veal, and a group of other Black women who have lost children to gun violence, in police custody, or at the hands of police—the “Mothers of the Movement”—told the country why the deaths of their children should matter to voters. They offered their support to Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton during a speech at the convention.

“One year ago yesterday, I lived the worst nightmare anyone could imagine. I watched as my daughter was lowered into the ground in a coffin,” said Geneva Reed-Veal.

“Six other women have died in custody that same month: Kindra Chapman, Alexis McGovern, Sarah Lee Circle Bear, Raynette Turner, Ralkina Jones, and Joyce Curnell. So many of our children are gone, but they are not forgotten,” she continued. 

“You don’t stop being a mom when your child dies,” said Lucia McBath, the mother of Jordan Davis. “His life ended the day that he was shot and killed for playing loud music. But my job as his mother didn’t.” 

McBath said that though she had lost her son, she continued to work to protect his legacy. “We’re going to keep telling our children’s stories and we’re urging you to say their names,” she said. “And we’re also going to keep using our voices and our votes to support leaders, like Hillary Clinton, who will help us protect one another so that this club of heartbroken mothers stops growing.” 

Sybrina Fulton, the mother of Trayvon Martin, called herself “an unwilling participant in this movement,” noting that she “would not have signed up for this, [nor would] any other mother that’s standing here with me today.” 

“But I am here today for my son, Trayvon Martin, who is in heaven, and … his brother, Jahvaris Fulton, who is still here on Earth,” Fulton said. “I did not want this spotlight. But I will do everything I can to focus some of this light on the pain of a path out of the darkness.”

What Else We’re Reading

Renee Bracey Sherman explained in Glamour why Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine’s position on abortion scares her.

NARAL’s Ilyse Hogue told Cosmopolitan why she shared her abortion story on stage at the DNC.

Lilly Workneh, the Huffington Post’s Black Voices senior editor, explained how the DNC was “powered by a bevy of remarkable black women.”

Rebecca Traister wrote about how Clinton’s historic nomination puts the Democratic nominee “one step closer to making the impossible possible.”

Rewire attended a Democrats for Life of America event while in Philadelphia for the convention and fact-checked the group’s executive director.

A woman may have finally clinched the nomination for a major political party, but Judith Warner in Politico Magazine took on whether the “glass ceiling” has really been cracked for women in politics.

With Clinton’s nomination, “Dozens of other women across the country, in interviews at their offices or alongside their children, also said they felt on the cusp of a major, collective step forward,” reported Jodi Kantor for the New York Times.

According to Philly.com, Philadelphia’s Maternity Care Coalition staffed “eight curtained breast-feeding stalls on site [at the DNC], complete with comfy chairs, side tables, and electrical outlets.” Republicans reportedly offered similar accommodations at their convention the week before.

News Abortion

Texas Pro-Choice Advocates Push Back Against State’s Anti-Choice Pamphlet

Teddy Wilson

The “A Woman’s Right to Know” pamphlet, published by the state, has not been updated since 2003. The pamphlet includes the medically dubious link between abortion care and breast cancer, among other medical inaccuracies common in anti-choice literature.

Reproductive rights advocates are calling for changes to information forced on pregnant people seeking abortion services, thanks to a Texas mandate.

Texas lawmakers passed the Texas Woman’s Right to Know Act in 2003, which requires abortion providers to inform pregnant people of the medical risks associated with abortion care, as well as the probable gestational age of the fetus and the medical risks of carrying a pregnancy to term.

The “A Woman’s Right to Know” pamphlet, published by the state, has not been updated or revised since it was first made public in 2003. The pamphlet includes the medically dubious link between abortion care and breast cancer, among other medical inaccuracies common in anti-choice literature. 

The Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) in June published a revised draft version of the pamphlet. The draft version of “A Woman’s Right to Know” was published online, and proposed revisions are available for public comment until Friday.

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John Seago, spokesperson for the anti-choice Texas Right to Life, told KUT that the pamphlet was created so pregnant people have accurate information before they consent to receiving abortion care.

“This is a booklet that’s not going to be put in the hands of experts, it’s not going to be put in the hands of OB-GYNs or scientists–it’s going to be put in the hands of women who will range in education, will range in background, and we want this booklet to be user-friendly enough that anyone can read this booklet and be informed,” he said.

Reproductive rights advocates charge that the information in the pamphlet presented an anti-abortion bias and includes factually incorrect information.

More than 34 percent of the information found in the previous version of the state’s “A Woman’s Right to Know” pamphlet was medically inaccurate, according to a study by a Rutgers University research team.

State lawmakers and activists held a press conference Wednesday outside the DSHS offices in Austin and delivered nearly 5,000 Texans’ comments to the agency.  

Kryston Skinner, an organizer with the Texas Equal Access Fund, spoke during the press conference about her experience having an abortion in Texas, and how the state-mandated pamphlet made her feel stigmatized.

Skinner told Rewire that the pamphlet “causes fear” in pregnant people who are unaware that the pamphlet is rife with misinformation. “It’s obviously a deterrent,” Skinner said. “There is no other reason for the state to force a medical professional to provide misinformation to their patients.”

State Rep. Donna Howard (D-Austin) said in a statement that the pamphlet is the “latest shameful example” of Texas lawmakers playing politics with reproductive health care. “As a former registered nurse, I find it outrageous that the state requires health professionals to provide misleading and coercive information to patients,” Howard said.

Howard, vice chair of the Texas House Women’s Health Caucus, vowed to propose legislation that would rid the booklet of its many inaccuracies if DSHS fails to take the thousands of comments into account, according to the Austin Chronicle

Lawmakers in several states have passed laws mandating that states provide written materials to pregnant people seeking abortion services. These so-called informed consent laws often require that the material include inaccurate or misleading information pushed by legislators and organizations that oppose legal abortion care. 

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) sent a letter to DSHS that said the organization has “significant concerns with some of the material and how it is presented.”

Among the most controversial statements made in the pamphlet is the claim that “doctors and scientists are actively studying the complex biology of breast cancer to understand whether abortion may affect the risk of breast cancer.”

Texas Right to Life said in a statement that the organization wants the DSHS include “stronger language” about the supposed correlation between abortion and breast cancer. The organization wants the pamphlet to explicitly cite “the numerous studies that indicate undergoing an elective abortion contributes to the incidence of breast cancer in women.”

Rep. Sarah Davis (R-West University Place) said in a statement that the state should provide the “most accurate science available” to pregnant people seeking an abortion. “As a breast cancer survivor, I am disappointed that DSHS has published revisions to the ‘A Woman’s Right to Know’ booklet that remain scientifically and medically inaccurate,” Davis said.

The link between abortion and cancer has been repeatedly debunked by scientific research.

“Scientific research studies have not found a cause-and-effect relationship between abortion and breast cancer,” according to the American Cancer Society.

A report by the National Cancer Institute explains, “having an abortion or miscarriage does not increase a woman’s subsequent risk of developing breast cancer.”

DSHS spokesperson Carrie Williams told the Texas Tribune that the original booklet was written by a group of agency officials, legislators and public health and medical professionals.

“We carefully considered medical and scientific information when updating the draft booklet,” Williams said.