Thursday, June 21, 2012

Contraceptive Coverage and the Affordable Care Act

Following up on our involvement in the debate over contraceptive coverage in the Affordable Care Act earlier this year, the BPCLC's co-chairs wrote this week to the federal agencies considering additional rule changes regarding contraceptive coverage for employees of religiously-affiliated institutions. We argue forcefully that any further accomodations must be tailored and designed to ensure employees remain covered, so no more barriers are placed between Americans and affordable, accessible contraceptive coverage and reproductive healthcare.

You can download the letter here or read it below:

2012-06-19 - BPCLC Comments on Contraceptive Coverage for ANPRM

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

BPCLC Legislative Conference: Reproductive Health Act Roundtable

For our Second Annual Legislative Conference, we invite you to a roundtable discussion with the Bipartisan Pro-Choice Legislative Caucus and pro-choice experts. The subject: why we need to modernize New York State’s reproductive health laws and pass the Reproductive Health Act!

Other states across the country continue to chip away at women’s reproductive rights. Now more than ever, New York must once again lead on protecting women’s health and preserving reproductive rights.

Join Us:
  • Thursday, May 31, 8:30 am - 10:00 am
  • The Legislative Office Building, Room 104A
Sponsored by BPCLC Co-Chairs Sen. Andrea Stewart Cousins, Sen. Liz Krueger, Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee, and Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Clergy Show Support in Albany for Abortion Rights

Concerned Clergy for Choice press conference at the capitol.
The Albany Times Union covered this week's Concerned Clergy for Choice press conference at the capitol:
“Our lawmakers want to understand our faith perspectives,” said the baptist Reverend Larry Phillips of Schenectady. “That people of faith do favor abortion laws that protect the health, the well-being of women and their loved ones, especially the Reproductive Health Act, which will also protect the religious liberty of New Yorkers.”
Rev. Laurena Marie Wickham Will spoke about her church, the First Presbyterian Church in Ogdensburg, and their support for Planned Parenthood and women’s reproductive health over the past few decades. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

RHA Under Attack

The BPCLC's signature priority this year is the Reproductive Health Act, sponsored by caucus co-chair Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assemblymember Deborah Glick. The bill would modernize New York's outdated public health law, bringing reproductive health under the public health law and codifying the protections of Roe v. Wade in state law.

But now the bill is under attack -- it is one of a host of bills that the state Senate majority has put in "a very dark vault," as BPCLC member Senator Dan Squadron put it, speaking to reporters today. It was one of hundreds of bills pulled from their committees today by the Senate majority, taken off the timetable for committee consideration and a committee vote, and put into the Rules Committee, presumably to run out of the clock and prevent them from getting an up or down vote.

Members of the BPCLC come from both parties and every region of the state. It is a shame that the Senate's leadership have chosen to make this a partisan issue and take the Reproductive Health Act off track.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan also came to Albany this week to pressure legislators against the Reproductive Health Act, as well.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

What If 83 U.S. Senators Were Women?

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, originally a New Yorker, gave an impassioned speech on access to contraception and reproductive healthcare last week, and posed the question: if the U.S. Senate were 83 women and 17 men, and not the other way around, would a bill like the 'Blunt Amendment' even make it to the floor?

Monday, February 13, 2012

It's About Women's Health Care, Not Religion

The BPCLC was active during last week's charged debate over contraception.

Our caucus' new co-chairs penned a joint op ed in today's Albany Times Union, thanking him for sticking to principle on contraceptive coverage. Our co-chairs wrote:
Both in its initial decision and in efforts late last week to accommodate religious concerns, the White House has held to a key principle: reproductive health care is legitimate health care, and all Americans have a right to accessible, affordable health care.
Reacting to the tremendous pressure on the president to exclude many women from this benefit, BPCLC members also sent an open letter to President Obama late last week, urging him to stand strong for contraceptive coverage.
2012-2-10 Letter on Contraceptive Coverage

Thursday, February 9, 2012

BPCLC Elects Co-Chairs

The BPCLC is pleased to announce the election of its first leadership team! Assemblymember Ellen Jaffee, Senator Liz Krueger, Assemblymember Teresa Sayward, and Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins will lead the caucus as co-chairs in the coming legislative session.

BPCLC Leadership Release

Friday, February 3, 2012

Pushback Succeeds: Komen Restores Funding for Planned Parenthood Screening Program

In a startling reversal, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, under immense pressure over their controversial decision to defund a Planned Parenthood breast cancer screening program, reversed course and restored the funding to Planned Parenthood. USA Today reports:
Critics had charged that Komen had decided to terminate its funding of Planned Parenthood under pressure from anti-abortion activists — a charge Komen founder Nancy Brinker denied.
Push-back came swiftly from within its own organization and outside supporters. Komen affiliates in California and Oregon opposed the decision, and in Colorado, an Aspen-based Komen affiliate said it would continue providing grants to its local Planned Parenthood site.
Others said they would boycott Komen's ubiquitous local Race for the Cure running events, which have raised millions of dollars over the years. Nowhere was the outcry more intense than on the Internet, where the decision was blasted on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites.
Sources in media reports continue to indicate the decision to defund Planned Parenthood was a political one, spurred by anti-choice actors within Komen:
A source with direct knowledge of decision-making at Komen's headquarters told the Associated Press that the grant-making criteria were adopted with the deliberate intention of targeting Planned Parenthood. The criteria's impact on Planned Parenthood and its status as the focus of government investigations were highlighted in a memo distributed to Komen affiliates in December.
According to the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of repercussions, a driving force behind the move was Karen Handel, who was hired by Komen last year as vice president for public policy after losing a campaign for governor in Georgia in which she stressed her anti-abortion views and frequently denounced Planned Parenthood.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

War on Women: Komen Turns Its Back on Women's Health

An anti-women’s health campaign has repeatedly targeted and harassed the Susan G. Komen Foundation for its support of Planned Parenthood's provision of life-saving cancer screenings for low-income and underserved women. An Associated Press report today indicates Komen's announced withdrawal of its support for the Planned Parenthood screening program is a product of these attacks.

News like this makes it clear -- the war on reproductive rights across our country is expanding into a war against women's health and women themselves. This is the type of reckless, politically motivated attack that could cost women’s lives. The screening program, part of Planned Parenthood's commitment to promoting and improving women's health, literally provides a life-saving service, helping women identify breast cancer early and dramatically improve their chances of getting treatment in time and surviving.

That said, Planned Parenthood has stated they will not let Komen’s disappointing decision halt grant funding or get in the way of providing patients with the care they need. A national foundation has announced a gift to create a Planned Parenthood Breast Health Fund to provide immediate funding for the women whose breast cancer screenings and care has been jeopardized by Komen’s decision to withdraw its support.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

This Week is Trust Women Week

The New York State Bipartisan Pro-Choice Legislative Caucus is joining the first-ever Trust Women Week, an online mass mobilization for women’s lives and rights from Jan. 20-27. 

You can click here to "march" this unique online campaign with more than 70 organizations across the nation, including coordinating partner the Trust Women/Silver Ribbon Campaign

We're letting legislators know that reproductive health, reproductive justice and reproductive rights are at the top of our agenda, and should be at the top of theirs, too. Our messages will be packaged and delivered directly to members of Congress, governors and state legislators to underscore that Americans trust women to make their own decisions about their bodies and their lives.

Online participants can select one of six messages: “I trust women and I vote;” “Reproductive rights are human rights;” “Keep abortion safe and legal, and make it affordable and accessible;” “Stand up and be counted for reproductive justice;” “We are the 99%. Fix the economy, and stop the attacks on women's health;” "Contraception Is Prevention."  A real-time online map shows the location of the virtual marchers.

Trust Women Week overlaps the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade and reasserts our firm commitment to reclaiming the future of reproductive decision-making in 2012. You can click here to join the online march!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Federal Victory for Contraception and Preventive Health Services

On Friday, January 20, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced that all employers will be required to cover women’s preventive health services, including contraception. Most employers will have to include this coverage by August 2012, and the remaining employers must do so by August 2013.  This provision requires insurers to cover preventive services with no co-pay, co-insurance or deductibles.

On December 12, 2012, many members of the Bipartisan Pro-Choice Legislative Caucus wrote to President Barack Obama, urging him not to broaden the exemption of certain employers from covering for these services. The Caucus’ action was in concert with over 200,000 other comments from the public.

The Caucus’ work will continue, but we count this as an important victory in the continued effort to protect reproductive rights and women's health in this state and across the country.

Below is a link to the press release from the Department of Health and Human Services:

Monday, January 9, 2012

BPCLC Supports Advocates Visit to Albany for Their "2012 Day of Action"

Advocates from around New York State joined Family Planning Advocates for their annual "Day of Action!" on Monday, January 9, 2012.

We were so delighted to see so many pro-choice Senators and Assemblymembers supporting this event and greeting the advocates in the Well of the Legislative Office Building, including Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Senate Democratic Leader John Sampson, Assemblymember Ellen Jaffee, Senator Gustavo Rivera, Senator Diane Savino, Assemblymember Kevin CahillAssemblymember Rory Lancman, Senator Liz Krueger, Senator Shirley L. Huntley, and Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins, who spoke on behalf of the BPCLC, and gave a rousing speech that invigorated the energetic crowd!

The advocates were urging legislators to support the passage of the Reproductive Health Act (RHA), which is an act to support a woman's right to make their own personal health decisions about their reproductive health, including pregnancy, the right to choose or refuse contraception, and to have an abortion.