PRO - WOMAN,
PRO - LIFE.
Feminists Choosing Life of New York (FCLNY) is a state-wide human rights coalition that embraces and promotes pro-life feminism and the consistent life ethic. FCLNY's public advocacy draws connections between the root causes of violence, inequality and the social forces that dehumanize.
PETITION TO: NYS STATE LEGISLATURE
Repeal the NYS Reproductive Health Act
Victims’ Attorneys File Landmark Lawsuit Challenging New York’s Reproductive Health Act
Media contact: Michele Sterlace (716) 864 1454
A federal class action lawsuit filed on January 12, 2021, by victims of domestic and intimate partner violence, along with others, claims New York’s Reproductive Health Act (RHA) puts “women in danger,” and violates the fundamental rights of women and children, including viable children in utero, or fetuses capable of surviving outside the womb.
In an unprecedented class action involving a New York State abortion statute, the lawsuit alleges the RHA unconstitutionally escalates the risk of violence and interferes with U.S. Constitutional rights for three distinct categories of people, pregnant women, viable unborn children, and infants born alive during attempted abortions. Plaintiffs are represented by a team of women attorneys, who also serve as special counsel to the Women’s Alliance Against Violence, an initiative created to challenge State laws that destructively impact women and children, including children in utero.
Feminists Choosing Life of New York (FCLNY), according to its mission, is a state-wide human rights organization that embraces and promotes the principles of non-violence and non-discrimination. “We applaud the efforts of the Women’s Alliance Against Violence,” says FCLNY’s board president, Carol Crossed. “Not only do we condemn group violence, including violent protests, we oppose publicly sanctioned lethal violence, like capital punishment, abortion and war.” For instance the group has spoken out against the execution of Lisa Montgomery.
FCLNY believes the RHA is anti-woman. “How can a society advance peace if it simultaneously protects some lives and ignores others? Human rights don’t eliminate human beings,” says Cecelia Hayes, FCLNY’s board vice president. According to the legal challenge, the RHA permits the on-demand killing of viable unborn children by abortion up to twenty-four weeks gestation. The suit asserts that recent advances in medical understanding establish that unborn children are capable of surviving outside the womb as early as 21 weeks gestation.
After 24 weeks, the RHA permits aborting viable fetuses for what may be interpreted as broad, non-medical health reasons, including a woman’s age or familial status, explains the complaint. Absent a threat to a mother’s life or a serious risk to her physical health, nothing in U.S. abortion jurisprudence, including Roe vs. Wade, confers upon any person a right to kill a viable unborn child, asserts the lawsuit. The RHA unconstitutionally fails to define the health reasons for which women can obtain later-term abortions. To the extent grounds for killing viable unborn children are unrelated to substantial threats to women’s physical health they violate the rights of viable humans in utero, according to the class action. “Further,” states Hayes, “most Americans do not support later-term abortions for broad health reasons.”
The Fourteenth Amendment’s guarantees of life, liberty, due process and equal protection are expansive enough to include viable humans in utero, asserts the lawsuit. In fact, the complaint explains, current medical knowledge regarding the humanity of viable unborn children compels their inclusion.
“This is feminism in action,” says Michele Sterlace, Executive Director of FCLNY. Sterlace, an attorney, also serves as counsel to the Women’s Alliance Against Violence, along with three other lawyers. “Feminism is inclusive, not exclusive regarding human rights. Human beings are not property, to be bought, sold or disposed of. These are the principles on which feminist foremothers stood, and universal precepts that underlie the extension of human rights.”
Catherine Glenn Foster, a human rights attorney also serving as counsel to the Women's Alliance Against Violence, states, "This legal challenge also makes the critically important point that the RHA unconstitutionally deprives children who survive attempted abortions Fourteenth Amendment rights. The opportunity to restore constitutional rights to a persecuted class of Americans reminds us that every person matters, and our legal system must reflect that. "
The RHA, enacted less than 24 months ago, repeals any reference to abortion and unborn children from New York’s penal codes, including New York’s long-standing fetal homicide law, which criminalized the killing of viable fetuses by third party criminal assailants, including perpetrators of domestic and intimate partner violence.
“The RHA allows intimate partner and domestic violence to run rampant in NY, by legalizing feticide,” says Hayes. The literature is replete with the understanding that criminal laws deter harmful conduct. “Fetal homicide laws are no exception,” says Caroline Bennett, M.Ed., FCLNY board member. “Domestic violence has increased against New York women since the passage of the RHA,” Bennett adds. The group also points to studies showing pregnancy substantially enhances women’s risks of being lethally assaulted by current or former intimate partners. Homicide is a leading cause of death for pregnant women.
The complaint outlines the numerous pregnant women and unborn children murdered in New York by intimate partner and domestic violence, after the RHA became law. The most recent of which occurred only months ago in Queens, NY. The slain woman was reported to be thirty weeks pregnant with the child who also died in the attack.
By decriminalizing the killing of unborn children by third party criminal assailants, the RHA deprives women of their First Amendment right to petition the courts for redress of grievances, to seek judicial relief for the loss of their unborn children, including wanted viable children in utero, alleges the complaint. “This demeans women. When the law says your wanted unborn child is so irrelevant that he or she can be murdered without fear of prosecution, the status of women as mothers is diminished,” says Hayes.
The RHA also unconstitutionally neglects to define who qualifies as a health care practitioner, the category of individuals the RHA permits to perform abortions, including surgical, later-term abortions, explains the class action.
The legal action challenging the U.S. Constitutionality of New York’s Reproductive Health Act was filed in the United States District Court— Northern District of New York in Albany.
The Women’s Alliance Against Violence is an initiative of the Thomas More Society.
Systemic racism is embedded into the very fabric of American society; no institution is left unscathed. In fact, our treatment of black lives exemplifies the adage, “the more things change, the more they remain the same.” Our country was built on the labor of African slaves, and the abolition of slavery merely changed the terminology of the systems oppressing of black lives. Systemic racism remains entrenched in our criminal justice system, communities, healthcare system, and schools, producing severe racial disparities across each sector.
In our criminal justice system, people of color are more likely to be incarcerated, sentenced to death, and killed by police. Our communities remain stubbornly segregated, preventing adequate access to grocery stores, parks, and healthcare. Black women are significantly more likely to abort their babies, which is largely a function of decades of eugenic policies and racial targeting. When mothers of color carry their pregnancies to term, they face disproportionately high rates of maternal and infant mortality. Across numerous other health metrics, including life expectancy, people of color fare worse than their white counterparts. Finally, our schools remain segregated, leading to massive funding
disparities between mostly white and mostly nonwhite schools.
Some people contend that poverty, not racism, is the driving force of inequality across racial groups. While racism and poverty certainly overlap and are interconnected, poverty alone does not account for the racial discrimination and disproportionately negative outcomes that people of color experience in America. Even when socioeconomic status and other confounding variables are controlled for, racial disparities remain.
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An Unsafe Space: A Symposium on Contemporary Feminism
Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic FCLNY has rescheduled our upcoming Symposium on Contemporary Feminism at Columbia University.
Please stay tuned for the new date.
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Inspiring Women: Celebrating Their Legacy!
September 26, 2020
FCLNY Celebrates the Centennial of Women's Suffrage!
Thank you Serrin M. Foster, Margaret Colin, Catherine Glenn Foster and EVERYONE who attended or supported the event!
March for Life 2021
Washington D.C. or Virtual
Linda Greenhouse & Reva Siegel: The Past and Future of Reproductive Choice
28th Annual Pro-Life Dinner by Pro-Life Texas