Planned Parenthood New York City President Joan Malin’s parting gift to the Senate Independent Democratic Conference is a barrage of distortions and attacks on us for supporting the organization’s agenda.
In these days of amped up, polarized, political rhetoric, where slinging mud on Twitter or maligning legislators’ records is becoming the unfortunate norm, we need to communicate a clear message to our constituents on where we stand on important issues like women’s reproductive rights.
Let me be clear: Planned Parenthood provides health services that are vital to women in this city, state and nation. The members of the IDC support its work, its mission and the legislation that the organization seeks to advance. But it seems that the various branches of Planned Parenthood don’t even speak to each other.
Planned Parenthood New York City’s Malin took to Twitter, emailed constituents and threw a media tantrum over an issue-based mailer telegraphing to constituents where IDC members stand on important issues.
She should know that at a time when Planned Parenthood is under attack locally, statewide and nationally, the public deserves to know where their representatives stand on issues. That’s something I’ve done since I first ran for office in 2004. We cannot say the same for every member of the Senate.
The truth is that every member of the Independent Democratic Conference passes the test on supporting the Reproductive Health Act and the Comprehensive Contraceptive Coverage Act – and Planned Parenthood should not be surprised or upset that we let constituents know these positions.
This is a strange game of politics for someone who should have joined us in our endeavor to call the roll and count all Democratic votes for these issues. We don’t have 32 senators committed to women’s reproductive rights or Planned Parenthood.
To blame the IDC for not moving Republicans on an issue that they are ideologically opposed to, and one that is a Democratic Party platform issue, is illogical. No one should be surprised that members of the GOP do not want to vote for these issues.
Torching members of the Democratic Party who have chosen to sit in an independent third, separate conference is counterproductive. Lying about them is worse.
Claims that the members of the IDC voted against a “bill to protect Planned Parenthood funding,” when no such bill exists is not only a lie but it attacks Planned Parenthood supporters. In reality, this was a political game by attaching a “hostile amendment” to a budget bill that contained not a single cent for Planned Parenthood.
That's why this year we introduced a bill to protect Title X funds– which are used for family planning services at organizations like Planned Parenthood – in the event conservatives on the federal level slashed those monies.
The mailer we sent proudly used the words of Planned Parenthood Empire State Acts President and CEO Robin Chapelle who offered support for a piece of IDC legislation to maintain funding levels at the state level for Planned Parenthood if they were gutted nationally. We appreciate Ms. Chappelle’s willingness to work together to put together important legislation and protect women.
But in New York City, it’s sadly forgotten that state Sen. Tony Avella allocated $250,000 to Planned Parenthood so that they could build the first full-service Planned Parenthood in Queens, and Sen. Jeff Klein also allocated money to Planned Parenthood Hudson Peconic.
We hope that the finger pointing and distortions will stop so that we can work together to advance important women’s health issues.
The best thing that’s happening to Planned Parenthood New York City is that Malin is retiring tomorrow.
We look forward to working with the new president on these important issues.
Diane Savino is a state senator representing the 23rd Senate District and a member of the Independent Democratic Conference.