The abortion language would allow late-term abortions, allow non-doctors to perform abortions, and supersede any reasonable restrictions such as parental notification, in a state that already has one of the highest abortion rates. It is out of touch with the views of most Americans, out of touch with the views of most Democrats, and could hamper real reform for women's rights.
Democratic Senator Jeff Klein, who supports the abortion expansion, is also leading a charge beyond the legislation. However, he also has taken a stance against pro-life Democrats arguing that any Democratic who does not support the bill is not a Democrat. It is clear that Senator Klein does not fully understand the importance of diversity within our party, the strength of a big tent policy, or the real needs of women. It is up to us to educate the Senator.
First, there are 21 million Democrats who self-identify as pro-life and otherwise much diversity within our Party on this issue of abortion.
That diversity of opinion is as follows:
- 61% of Democrats support parental consent for minors seeking abortion (Gallup, 2011);
- 60% of Democrats support a 24-hour waiting period for women seeking abortion (Gallup, 2011);
- 84% of Democrats support informed consent (Gallup, 2011);
- 49% of Democrats support an ultrasound requirement (Gallup, 2011);
- 59% of Democrats support a ban on partial-birth abortions (Gallup, 2011).
Second, New York women do not actually need greater access to abortion, but a more supportive system to allow real choice should they want to bring their pregnancies to term. Looser abortion restrictions will do nothing to help women who feel financially strapped or who lack family support and often turn to abortion as a last resort.
New York City has the highest abortion rate in the nation with 40 percent of pregnancies ending in abortion. Among non-Hispanic blacks, 60 percent of pregnancies end in abortion, and among non-Hispanic black teens that number grows to 72 percent. Even a majority of pro-choice women believe the abortion rate is too high. How will greater access and less safe abortions help women?
1.) Pro-life Democrats are welcomed and active participants in the Democratic Party. The continued demonization of pro-life democrats and the focus on abortion only creates a rift within the Party and a loss of Democratic voters.
2.) The provisions in the Women's Equality Act will help women. Please remove the abortion expansion language so we can focus on real reform for women's rights.
3.) Address the high abortion rate in New York. Immediately institute measures, such as the Pregnant Women Support Act, to give women real choice.
Please also contact pro-life Democratic Senator Ruben Diaz who is fighting for us in Albany. Please tell him we appreciate his pro-life stance and his willingness to stand up to party pressure and stand by his pro-life values.