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.

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