In a bold (and rather disgusting) political move, Governor Pataki decided to veto the Emergency Contraception (EC) bill which had been passed by both houses of the NY State Assembly in a truly remarkable bipartisan effort. The announcement of the veto had already been made by the time I arrived at the EC rally this evening, which was happening right outside Governor Pataki’s NYC office, and this may have been a blessing in disguise, by rally standards. It’s hard to rally around something that’s going your way. The veto let the rally leaders really cut loose, denouncing Pataki and protesting such a blatantly political move. Governor Pataki ran on a Pro-Choice ticket, and has always been very supportive when it comes to women’s rights. Why the sudden change, Governor? Could it have anything to do with your recent announcement that you won’t seek another term as governor, presumably because you might have presidential aspirations?
This veto is a slap in the face, not just to both houses of the Assembly, who passed the bill by a very wide margin, but to every woman in NY State. Now, because emergency contraception will continue to be available only through prescription, which requires an appointment with a doctor/midwife/NP, it will remain very difficult to obtain within the 72 hour deadline, especially on weekends when clinics are closed. Now, thanks to this veto, a lot of women will be faced with two very unsavory choices: have an unwanted pregnancy, or have an abortion. When will people get it through their thick skulls that contraception PREVENTS abortion, rather than encourages it??
There were probably about 100 people at the rally, with several phenomenal speakers, including Ronnie Lichtman, the Director of the SUNY Downstate Midwifery program. The message at the rally was: “we will not give up, we will keep fighting!” And of course we will, because this legislation deserves to be law, and women deserve to have emergency contraception available and easy to obtain, 24/7. The FDA is going to issue a ruling on the safety of EC on September 1st, deciding whether it’s safe be sold over the counter or not. And as for getting this bill signed into law in NYS….I guess there’s always next year. I must admit, I left the rally feeling simultaneously encouraged, discouraged, frustrated, angry and inspired: a very strange mix, indeed.