To the editor:
When I was 19, my mother gave my 15-year-old brother and me the news of a lifetime: She was expecting another sibling for us.
The pregnancy went on as expected for 11 weeks, and then she devastated us with the news that this baby would threaten her life if carried to term.
My mother had miscarried a few years earlier, and my brother and I had become aware that she was older and her body might have trouble handling a child. The decision to terminate, made in conjunction with an Orthodox rabbi, hit hard for my brother and me.
Even with states between us, we talk multiple times a week, and love nothing more than being around one another. And at the time, the idea of another sibling was a cause for elation that, once plucked from us, left us in deep pain.
It has been nine years since my mother had that procedure, in an effort to save her from a would-be threat to her body. In the nine years since her decision, the state of Texas — where I am from — has restricted access to abortion significantly, especially for people with less means than my family had. Restrictive hallway sizes and other ridiculous laws have effectively shuttered clinics in Texas, making access to legal abortions difficult, if not impossible, for some people.
And what may surprise you is that during that same time, New York has not made efforts to protect women from lawmakers like the ones in Texas, from the White House, and on a terrifying new level, from the Supreme Court.
Leaders in Albany can change this, however, if the state senate followed their colleagues’ lead in the Assembly and passed the Reproductive Health Act.
It is not often enough that we see men speaking out about the rights of women and the autonomy they have over their bodies. But we should also be sure that the men who are speaking up are not simply opportunists looking to ride a “blue wave,” fueled by women, to stay in their positions in Albany.
This is what state Sen. Jeff Klein has done in his sudden push for the passage of the Reproductive Health Act, which would effectively keep Roe v. Wade’s constitutional protections as the law of New York State. The man who, for seven years, enabled Republican leaders to control not just the state senate, but the committees that sopped this bill and others from ever seeing a vote, is not the person who is ever going to be a champion of women, and in my belief, will not be the person best suited to see the passage of this bill through.
His opponent, Alessandra Biaggi, while in the governor’s office, continually tried to work around Klein’s group in order to pass the Reproductive Health Act. Biaggi understands what is at stake. When she could not succeed at getting the bill passed in a Republican/Independent Democratic Conference-controlled senate, she decided to instead work for the bill’s passage by running for Jeff Klein’s seat.
That, to me, is the kind of person who cares about this act, and will fight to make sure all New Yorkers have the same kind of access to reproductive care that my mom did.