The morning roundup from Kaiser Health News on Tuesday put it best: “One Thing Both Sides Can Agree On: With Kavanaugh Nomination Abortion Rights Are Clearly On The Line.”
New Yorkers, who live in a state which legalized abortion three years before the U.S. Supreme Court’s defining decision in Roe vs. Wade, can watch confirmation hearings knowing that Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, will defend a woman’s right to choose.
But there is much more for New Yorkers to do this election year if they will remember that those who represent them in Albany are just as important, and in some ways more important, than those they send to Washington.
As the White House, House and Senate continue to attack rights that New Yorkers value, the state Legislature looms as the last line of defense. In many ways this represents the tides of history with ideas originating in states, being exported and transformed and tested in Washington, finally spreading across the nation until one day the tide turns.
New York was the laboratory for the New Deal, created and tested under Gov. Franklin D. Roosevelt and then extending nationwide under his presidency. Had FDR listened to his most progressive advisors, universal national health care would not have waited until this century. And now that Congress and the Trump administration are doing all they can to erode the security that such health care brings, New York is one of the states erecting its own wall, albeit a legal and symbolic one, to protect those rights.
In just the past two weeks New Yorkers have been reminded how much they will have to rely on their legislators to protect so many rights.
When the Trump administration decided to do away with affirmative action in the form of allowing race to play a part in the college admissions process, Gov. Andrew Cuomo told both SUNY and CUNY to continue with their plans to protect diversity. Now, with a Supreme Court seemingly poised to reverse Roe v. Wade, Cuomo again is reminding New Yorkers that they need a Senate that will finally approve the long-awaited Reproductive Health Act.
And there are other rights waiting for members of the Senate to protect them, most notably the rights of those sexually abused when they were children but now prohibited from confronting the abusers in court because the Senate continues to avoid voting on a bill that would bring the state into the humane mainstream occupied by most others.
Talk all you want about the high court nominee, the administration’s attitude toward NATO, the trade wars with Europe, China, Mexico and Canada, our new tendency to embrace dictatorships and shun democracies. In many ways those issues will be on the ballot in November when we choose one senator and all of the people we send to the House or Representatives.
But even if both bodies end up with a Democratic majority, New Yorkers will still have to defend themselves against the attacks coming from the courts and the White House and the only way to do that is to elect members of the state Senate who respect those rights.