The mission of NARAL Pro-Choice New York is to protect safe, legal abortion and expand the full range of reproductive rights for women regardless of age, race or income. To learn more or get involved, please visit www.prochoiceny.org.
Our editors conducted the following interview with David Benzaquen who is the Political & Legislative Action Coordinator for NARAL Pro-Choice New York.
RE/VISIONIST: What is your relationship with New York’s state legislature? Do you have many strong allies in Albany?
David Benzaquen: NARAL Pro-Choice New York works to support the election of pro-choice candidates and this helps us build and maintain strong relationships with pro-choice officials. Every year during election season, NARAL Pro-Choice New York endorses a slate of candidates who show their unwavering commitment to reproductive rights issues. We are non-partisan and only endorse candidates who are 100% pro-choice, so we are proud to encourage all of our members to support these candidates and their campaigns in any way they can.
R/V: At the federal level, how would you rate the performance of US Senators and Representatives from New York in terms of their level of pro-choice or anti-choice support?
DB: Senators Gillibrand and Schumer are strong pro-choice allies. We thank Senator Gillibrand, in particular, for her recent strong opposition to anti-choice legislation being advanced by Speaker of the House John Boehner. The Congressional delegation from New York is largely pro-choice and includes some tremendous heroes of women’s rights like Representative Jerrold Nadler. Unfortunately there are also several anti-choice members who are even now trying to defund Planned Parenthood and would allow emergency rooms to deny a woman an abortion even if her life was in imminent danger.
R/V: In light of recent proposed bills around the US, such as South Dakota’s move to make killing an abortion provider “justifiable homicide,” what strategies do you employ to enact change outside of New York state?
DB: While NARAL Pro-Choice New York works specifically on legislation and efforts within the state, our sister organization, the National Institute for Reproductive Health (NIRH) runs innovative programs to support reproductive health access across the country. One of these programs is called the Urban Initiative for Reproductive Health. The Urban Initiative was created to identify successful reproductive health models at the city and local level and to assist organizations across the country in replicating these in their own areas. Our efforts work to increase access to reproductive health services and provide organizations around the country with the knowledge of best practices, funding, and support network they need to advance reproductive health and justice in their communities.
R/V: How can our readers get involved with pro-choice organizing?
DB: I would encourage all your readers to visit our website and sign up for our email updates. The anti-choice movement has spent 40 years slowly chipping away at our rights. Now, with new anti-choice leadership in the U.S. House, they’re going at them with a sledgehammer. There has never been a more important time for us to stand up in defense of reproductive justice.
R/V: What is the most significant threat to reproductive justice today?
DB: For the past forty years, the anti-choice movement has been slowly chipping away at reproductive rights. Today, we face emboldened anti-choice efforts at the state level along with virulent anti-choice leaders in the House of Representatives at the federal level. The current effort to defund Planned Parenthood and family planning while placing additional barriers to abortion access could have disastrous consequences. ▢
Sign up now to volunteer with NARAL Pro-Choice New York at https://id34105.securedata.net/prochoiceny/getinvolved/volunteer.shtml