Pataki's Practicing Medicine Without A License!
Fitterman's remarks at the 7/22/05
NOW Protest at Patatki's NYC Office
George W. Bush has just nominated to the US Supreme court John Roberts, an overtly anti-choice white man. His wife is past Vice President of something called Feminists for Life, an anti-choice organization that is the antithesis of feminism. At the same time, our own New York State Legislature has passed legislation that would give women the opportunity to get emergency contraception to avoid pregnancy. Our Governor has not yet signed this bill into law. What more evidence is needed to prove that it’s not only abortion being attacked but the right to birth control?
The Women of New York State don’t want the men in Washington, nor the men in New York to decide their fate. Women must decide their fate. Indeed the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists overwhelmingly support Emergency Contraception, as does our own New York State Assembly and Senate, who have definitively passed this legislation. Because of pressure from the Catholic Church and the fundamentalists, Governor Pataki is PRACTICING MEDICINE WITHOUT A LICENSE. Today, women in New York State are taking to the streets to demand their rights to reproductive freedom. And we will be joined by women from around the nation.
The National Organization for Women is the largest feminist organization in the world and we will unite around the country to preserve our reproductive freedoms.
Vigil Against Hate Crimes
Remarks by Marilyn Fitterman 10/30/98
Past President, NOW - NYS
From 2000 through 2001 Marilyn Fitterman served as Chair of the the East Hampton Town Anti-Bias Task Force. On October 30, 1998, this group hosted a Vigil Against Hate Crimes, which commemorated recent bias victims James Byrd (a Black man dragged to his death in Texas), Matthew Shepard (a gay man beaten to death in Wyoming), and Dr. Barnett Slepian (a provider of abortion services in Amherst, New York). At the Vigil, Eastern Long Island NAACP President Lou Ware emphasized the need for New York State Hate Crimes Legislation covering all groups. His sentiments were strongly reinforced by New York Assemblyman Fred Thiele (R) and East Hampton Town Supervisor Kathy Lester (D). Feminist singer Sandy Rapp sang her new "Flag And The Rainbow" with a special verse for the recent hate crime victims. Fitterman emphasized that anti-choice murder and clinic bombing victims must also be counted among the fallen. Her remarks at the Vigil follow:
We are here tonight for Matthew Shepard who was murdered in Wyoming because he was gay. We are here tonight for James Byrd murdered in Texas because he was Black. And - let us not forget to be here tonight for Dr. Barnett Slepian who was murdered in Buffalo, New York because he aided women who felt unable to bear, or feed and care for another child.
Gays and lesbians are being murdered. Blacks are being murdered and black churches are burning. Women's medical centers are being fire-bombed and their workers maimed and killed. And yet, for as many years as I can remember, Republican Leadership will not even let out on the floor the Hate Crimes Bill that the Democratic Assembly has been passing every year.
Murder is murder. There is no justification for it. We know that about Matthew Shepard and James Byrd. And yet, this week on television every news channel actually "debated" the murder of Dr. Slepian. That's right - "debated". As if the act of murder is debatable. Do they debate the murder of Matthew Shepard or James Byrd? Thank The Goddess - NO! Do they debate the burning of churches? Thank The Goddess - NO! But do they debate the bombing of women's clinics and the killing of clinic workers and doctors? Unfortunately and outrageously - YES!
The difference, or should I say the bias, here is an important one. The fact is that women's rights are valued less than those of children and men, and that people are being maimed and killed for supporting women in their rights. This is unconscionable, appalling and unforgivable. The fact the FBI, the state police and the local law enforcement agencies permit this terrorism to continue, not only against the targeted groups we remember today, but also against women and their supporters, is deplorable.
We cannot change peoples' minds and attitudes with legislation. But we can change the way people act with legislation. That is why we need and why we must have a hate crimes bill.
When Rosa Parks refused to go to the back of the bus, the nation listened and legislation was passed and people began to act differently. It didn't matter much if they felt differently right away, they certainly cleaned up their act. Through legislation we change actions and by changing actions we eventually change attitudes. We need hate-crimes legislation for that reason.
The inflammatory rhetoric of the right wing conservative fundamentalist movement is responsible for the murders, burnings and bombings and it's about time we acknowledge that. Their hate words like faggot, pervert, the "n" word, white supremacy, baby killer, and abortion mill are creating a culture of violence.
We must stand firm against the violence and we must protect the targeted groups. The Hate-Crimes bill should be passed and, in fact, expanded to include all gender-based crimes, including those against women and their supporters, who often, like Dr. Slepian, are targets of hate as surely as those we mourn today.
Where Are Our Leaders?
by Marilyn Fitterman, Past President NOW-NYS
East Hampton Star - March 16, 2000
The acceptance, the approval, and the shaking of hands with Congressman Michael Forbes by the Democrats is the beginning of the Democratic Party's infiltration by right-wing anti-women, anti-choice candidates just as it was when the Republicans opened the door to them two decades ago. The Democratic National Committee is smugly confident that the women making waves about Michael Forbes defection will vote democratic regardless. "After all," we are being told, "you don't want a Republican in office, do you?" But, lest we forget, the first liberalized abortion laws passed in this country back in 1970 were passed in California and New York, both under Republican Governors Reagan and Rockefeller respectively. What goes around, comes around. At least with a Republican in office we know what to expect and we know where the battlefield is. But stealth democrats will lull us into a false sense of security while they whittle away our freedoms.
Harriet Tubman risked her life in the underground railroad to free black people. Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton were ridiculed all of their lives for fighting the good fight to free women from oppression. Anthony went to jail for voting. Alice Paul was imprisoned for her beliefs, never gave up and never saw the ERA passed. Victoria Woodhull ran for President and Chrystal Eastman founded the ACLU but history has erased them. Betty Freidan took it on the chin when "The Feminine Mystique" was published, but she saw the big picture and she's still in there fighting for women's rights. Gloria Steinem lived down the "Playboy Bunny" ridicules to become a prominent leader for women's rights. Bella Abzug spent her life in the struggle for civil rights for all people and didn't live to see her dreams realized. These are only a few of the brave women of the 19th and 20th centuries. Where are our brave feminist political leaders of the 21st century?
Finally, women are making it into the mainstream of politics with the opportunity to make our nation a true democracy. Women are in the Senate, Congress and state legislatures around the country. But, too many forget how they got there and believe that to maintain their own status quo they must "play with the boys." Unfortunately this "playing with the boys" is what helped many of them get there, and once there, they are afraid to "rock the boat" and do the right thing. Determination, guts, fortitude, and perseverance are not in their vocabularies. They are not the Tubmans, Anthonys, Freidans, Steinems, nor Abzugs.
The fight for women to have control of their reproductive health is a bottom line issue. It is not an issue that is yet settled, nor could or should women's bodily freedom be bargained with nor compromised, yet, that's what many of our feminist leaders are doing. Around the country reproductive freedom is being whittled away by law after law restricting "certain" reproductive rights. Every single state in the union has had legislation introduced to restrict women's rights and much of this legislation has passed or is in danger of passing.
Almost twenty years ago the Republican Party, which was once considered a broad-based women's party, began to be infiltrated by right-wing religious fanatics who changed the platform and tried to set back women's rights. That's when most feminist women moved over to the Democratic Party where they felt they had a platform for their issues. And until recently they did, but not without attempts by the party to get them to occasionally compromise. And, they didn't. But, times are a-changing.
When Bill Clinton and Richard Gephardt wooed right-wing anti-choice Republican Michael Forbes over from the Republican party nary a word was heard from our feminist political leaders. "This is politics" most of them said, and "we need another seat in Congress" they exclaimed. But these comments were made privately to those of us who elected them. Nary a one of them spoke out publicly against the decision by the Democratic National Leadership to seat a right-wing anti-women Republican as a Democrat.
Where are the brave women of yesteryear? Where are the Harriet Tubmans, and the Bella Abzugs and the legacy they left? Why aren't the feminist women who were elected to office in New York State putting up a fight? Have been given key positions to keep quiet? Have others been promised key positions to be quiet? Thank goodness our foremothers didn't accept compromises or we wouldn't have gotten as far as we did. Where are Nita Lowey, and Louise Slaughter? Where are Carolyn McCarthy, Nydia Velasquez, and Carolyn Maloney? And, most of all, where is Judith Hope, Chair of the New York State Democratic Party? Do they really believe that this will be an isolated case of compromising? Isn't that what the Republicans thought twenty years ago?
It should be unacceptable to the voters of the 1st Congressional District to allow the Washington Beltway to select our elected officials. They don't know our politics and they don't know our towns. They have ignored the Democratic Party Platform and palmed off Michael Forbes on us here in Suffolk County and it is up to us to show our independence and dump Forbes. With pressure from a group of feminists from the East End, Forbes has agreed not to take the "Right To Life" line, but, he insists that he will not protect our reproductive freedoms in Congress. Our elected "feminist" Congresswomen have a lot of explaining to do comes re-election time in November if they don't stand behind us now.
Treason! In The Service Of Politics
by Marilyn Fitterman, Past President
NOW-NYS NOW-NYS Reporter - Winter, 1998
Ms. Fitterman is Managing Editor of NOW - New York State's quarterly newspaper, the NOW-NYS Reporter. The 1998 winter edition featured her editorial on the Clinton Presidency and its perpetual inquisition by Special Prosecutor Kenneth Starr.
It can be argued that Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr's disabling of a sitting US President constitutes treason, and that in service to the religious right-wing's political agenda he has intentionally undermined the nation and the Office of the Presidency.
From "Whitewater" to "Filegate" to "Travelgate" Starr implied sinister intent to business and political transactions in both the Clintons' history, but his forty-million dollar investigation came up empty-handed. He then came upon an Achilles heel in the Clintons' personal life, and through obsessive, McCarthyite focus on this, Kenneth Starr weakened the Office of the Presidency itself.
Clinton's consensual liaison may actually have been planned by Monica Lewinsky, since she was alleged to have announced that her intent in going to Washington was to "earn her Presidential kneepads," an unmistakable reference to administering oral sex. To this end, and as reported in Starr's salacious document, this adult woman flirted with and stalked the President, launching thirty-seven expeditions, ten of which were "successful," into the White House. She was, it is also reported, removed from the White House over her own loud objections, and apparently she threatened to reveal past encounters. Are we even sure that Lewinsky didn't understand Linda Tripp's propensity for gossip and that she didn't know her exhaustive telephone conversations would someday render the name "Monica Lewinsky" a household word? It seems that Lewinsky twice battled her way to the fronts of crowds for the hugging events now televised worldwide.
A serious investigation is needed to follow up Hillary Rodham Clinton's observation that a right-wing conspiracy has sought, for the past six years, to bring down the President. Indeed, almost all the major players against the Administration, from the Paula Jones civil case Counsel (the Rutherford Institute) to Richard M. Scaife's "Arkansas Project" probe of ancient real estate transactions, are card-carrying religious-right politicos. Of these, many are dedicated to the demise of this country's Constitution through the dissolution of Church/State separation, and many would re-make the United States into a "Christian Nation." In fact, most of Starr's charges are based on religious views of adultery, sexuality, and perversion.
Starr claims secular law was violated to hide the religious transgressions. But the religious-value questions should never have been asked. The Independent Counsel law concerns affairs of State, not personal dalliances. This contemporary witch hunt offers the same choice given heretics: confess and be guilty or lie and be guilty of lying. The President has confirmed violation of religious law by confessing that he sinned. This is irrelevant to Starr's investigation since no religious test can be required as a qualification for public office as clearly stated in Article VI of the US Constitution.
Furthermore, Starr elicited Lewinsky's "revelations" by holding both her and her parents hostage to bankruptcy and imprisonment. Much of Starr's evidence was obtained questionably in a jump-the-gun wiring of Linda Tripp and reliance upon a tainted, illegally-taped collection of purportedly private telephone conversations. These taping crimes were committed under the direction of former Nixon/Republican operativeLucianne Goldberg, a literary agent with a propensity toward sensational publications.
Kenneth Starr's probe reveals an abuse of power that constitutes a tyrannical, unconstitutional, and utterly unfettered Fourth Branch Of Government. Its focus, length, and breadth all argue for its partisanship. The President appears as a "poor role model" only because Kenneth Starr portrayed him thus. Bill Clinton's responses about his private sex life were an attempt to honor Kenneth Starr's and some of the country's religious values. The President endeavored to protect himself, his family, the Office of the Presidency, and the American people from the embarrassment he knew publication of his private sex life would cause.
In fact Clinton risked the Starr perjury trap precisely in order to honor Kenneth Starr's religious values. It is Kenneth Starr's partisan insistence and nothing else that has provided a sex-saturated "role model." Starr chose to describe pulse-rousing, physical details instead of stating simply that an improper relationship took place. Out of respect for the Office, if not the man, simply naming the acts would have been enough. Starr personally, through the kind of report he made, may have so irretrievably damaged the Presidency that Starr and solely Starr has seen to it that impeachment is almost irrelevant.
Make no mistake, the Christian Right is an enemy of the current United States Presidency and of the Constitution. Starr's recent publication of gratuitous erotic detail strongly suggests treason in the service of politics. The "deafening silence" of feminists in this investigation represents the recognition of what libertarian feminists have long argued: that overbroad interpretations of harassment laws are tailor-made instruments of tyranny. The puritanical and ever insular religious right seems oblivious to this world and its real-life/death issues. Their possibly treasonous Independent Counselor gives fodder to our enemies and malaise to our friends. The now-permanent millstone around the President's neck weakens our country from within and without. The Office Of Independent Counsel should be retroactively decommissioned by Congress and an immediate investigation conducted to examine Starr's motives, methods, and the possibility of treason.
The Republican members of the Judiciary Committee have shown themselves to be an autocratic, determined, and badly misled majority that has said it will not respond to polls. To make clear that the will of the people is to keep Clinton in office because his offenses do not reach the level of high crimes and misdemeanors, and to make clear that the will of the people is for our Congress to get back to business, we must move beyond street polls to the voting polls. The only way to do that is to support candidates who will vote against Kenneth Starr. In other words we must vote to decrease the Republican majority and put the Democrats in Office. A Republican vote is a vote for a politically-motivated impeachment that will lower the bar for impeaching any future president, and will destabilize our country and our economy. I say this, sadly, as a recovering Republican. This November, VOTE STARR OUT!.