Tuesday, January 12, 2010

MWPC Press Conference Supporting Coakley on Choice

At a press conference today, Massachusetts’ leading advocacy organizations for women’s reproductive rights denounced Republican Scott Brown’s poor record on a woman’s right to choose. The organizations, including the Planned Parenthood of Massachusetts, NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts, the Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus and the Massachusetts Chapter of the National Organization for Women, criticized Brown’s long record of opposition to policies that promote choice and privacy rights. The organizations highlighted Martha Coakley’s strong support of a woman’s right to choose.

The organizations blasted Scott Brown’s previously proposed legislation that, if it had passed, would have allowed hospital emergency rooms to deny emergency contraception to victims of rape. This callous approach to reproductive rights led the anti-choice Massachusetts Citizens for Life (MCFL) to endorse Scott Brown. MCFL wrote on its blog, “Our PAC has been supporting Scott Brown because he will be a pro-life vote in the Senate.”

The organizations also criticized Brown for denying the severe impact of his legislation on victims of rape in yesterday’s debate hosted by the Kennedy Institute. During the debate, Coakley repeatedly pressed Brown to acknowledge that his legislation would have allowed hospitals to deny emergency contraception to victims of rape, which he attempted to deny. Brown was simply wrong.

“Scott Brown demonstrated in last night’s debate the lengths to which he will go to mislead the voters about his record,” said Andrea Miller, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts. “He has repeatedly shown his willingness to compromise for political gain the health and well-being of some of the most vulnerable women in Massachusetts, including victims of sexual assault. Massachusetts needs a United States Senator who will be honest about his or her record and who will stand up every single day in defense of our rights, including a woman’s right to choose. Martha Coakley has been a true and steadfast champion for choice throughout her career.”

“Scott Brown is simply not telling the truth about his record -- and, even worse, he's not telling the truth about the impact his legislation would have on victims of sexual assault,” said Pam Nourse, Vice President of the Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus Board of Directors. “Scott Brown is endorsed by anti-choice groups like Massachusetts Citizens for Life because of his co-sponsorship of waiting periods for abortions, and his record of supporting legislation that would allow hospitals to turn away rape victims seeking emergency contraception. There is no way Scott Brown can honestly call himself a defender of a woman’s right to choose. Martha Coakley is the candidate in this race who will protect and defend a woman’s right to choose. The National Women’s Political Caucus is proud to support Martha Coakley to be our next United States Senator.”

“Scott Brown says that victims of rape should just get back in the car and drive to another hospital,” said Christina Knowles, State Director for the Massachusetts Chapter of the National Organization for Women. “Legislation he filed would have denied rape victims access to emergency contraception at numerous hospitals across Massachusetts. His legislative record shows a deep lack of understanding of women’s health issues and an enormous lack of empathy for what victims of rape are going through. Throughout her career, Martha Coakley has been a staunch defender of fundamental democratic principles like equality and freedom of choice. We are confident that Martha will continue to defend these essential principles in Washington.”

“With many health care battles still to be fought and with a closely divided Supreme Court, who Massachusetts elects to the U.S. Senate on January 19 will have an impact that is felt nationally and felt for years to come,” said Dianne Luby of Planned Parenthood of Massachusetts. “It is baffling to hear Scott Brown paint himself as a supporter of women's reproductive health. The amendment he filed in 2005 to the Emergency Contraception Bill would have forced rape survivors to travel from hospital to hospital seeking emergency contraception. That certainly doesn't feel supportive."

The four groups strongly criticized Brown’s record regarding critical health services for women:

  • Brown was the lead sponsor of a legislative amendment in 2005 that would have allowed hospital emergency rooms to deny emergency contraception to victims of rape.
  • Brown has co-sponsored the so-called Women’s Right to Know Bill, legislation that would impose a mandatory delay before a woman can obtain an abortion. This legislation is supported by Massachusetts Citizens for Life, an organization that has endorsed Brown for United States Senate.
  • Brown recently filed legislation that, if enacted, would allow the removal of previously
    mandated insurance coverage for a wide array of health services, including critical health care for women. Among the women’s health services that his bill would allow to be removed as mandated coverage are mammograms, minimum maternity stays for new mothers, and screenings (pap smears) to detect, among other possible conditions, cervical cancer at an early, treatable stage.
  • Brown opposes national health care reform that includes many benefits for women, such as ending denials by insurance companies to women who have had a Caesarean section or who suffered domestic abuse under the premise that they were “pre-existing conditions.”
Since 1972, NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts has been a leading force advocating to protect privacy and promote reproductive health. Mobilizing its 20,000 members across the Commonwealth, NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts uses the political process to guarantee every woman the right to make personal decisions regarding the full range of reproductive choices.

Planned Parenthood seeks to protect and promote sexual and reproductive health and freedom of choice by providing clinical services, education and advocacy.

The Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus is a multipartisan organization founded in 1971 to maximize the participation of women of all ages in the political process and to increase the number of women appointed and elected to public office and public policy positions.

Massachusetts NOW is the state affiliate of the National Organization for Women, which is the largest and oldest multi-issue, multi-strategy feminist organization in the country. Massachusetts NOW embraces a comprehensive approach to securing women's rights, and seeks to obtain full equality for women and girls in all aspects of life.