Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Cuomo Looks to Make Women’s Equality Personal With Family Ad

Gov. Andrew Cuomo sought to make his Women’s Equality Party push personal Saturday, rolling out an advertisement featuring his three daughters and girlfriend at a party rally. It’s the first time Mr. Cuomo’s longtime girlfriend, television chef Sandra Lee, or his children from a prior marriage have appeared in a political ad. “This is an issue that’s important to them and they wanted their voice heard, and they’ve been very active in organizing the women’s equality agenda, so they wanted to be part of it,” Mr. Cuomo told reporters after the John Jay College rally, which drew about 200 supporters. Mr. Cuomo is at the top of the Women’s Equality Party ticket, and the party was rolled out this summer Mr. Cuomo and his candidate for lieutenant governor, Kathy Hochul, faced a tough primary challenger from Zephyr Teachout. The slate is dominated by men, something critics have pointed out in arguing the party is a cynical election-year ploy. But Mr. Cuomo said he sees women’s issues through his daughters. “Part of my motivation is about them — I’m a man, this is about women’s rights. And I see a lot of those, I see a lot of the consequences through my daughters,” Mr. Cuomo said. “And when you look at those statistics, of the statistics about how women are prejudiced and how women are discriminated against in our society, it frankly pains me that that should happen to my daughters.” The advertisement features each of the governor’s daughters and the recognizable Ms. Lee speaking about issues central to the 10-point women’s equality act, like equal pay, ending sexual harassment and protecting a woman’s right to choose, and urging voters to vote on the Women’s Equality line to help establish the party for future elections. “And let’s pass a women’s equality agenda, to treat women fairly, for my family, and for yours,” Mr. Cuomo says in the ad, which begins airing on television today. The spot was introduced at the rally by former Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who has been a fixture on the “Women’s Equality Express” bus tours Mr. Cuomo and Ms. Hochul have taken across the state. “I’ve really never seen one so personal, so impassioned, and so from the heart as the ad you’re going to see now, and I think this ad says it all about why we have to win come Election Day,” Ms. Quinn told the crowd, which had been warmed up with a women-focused playlist of pop music before the pols took the stage. A screenshot from the new ad featuring Gov. Andrew Cuomo's family. A screenshot from the new ad featuring Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s family. The ad was one of two videos shown at the rally. Another showed two newborns next to one another, and noted how the two could be raised just the same, but one would earn less, be more likely to be a single parent and live in poverty and less likely to become a CEO — all because the baby was a girl. Mr. Cuomo said that video, too, spoke to him as a father. “This is a very human issue, and it’s a family issue, and it’s a women’s issue and a man’s issue and it’s different than politics — that’s why my family is on that ad,” Mr. Cuomo said after the rally. Throughout the rally, speakers sought to paint women’s rights as a personal issue, rather than a political one — something all but “ultra-conservatives,” as Mr. Cuomo called them, supported. Mr. Cuomo said in the past, the state had been home to moderate Republicans — like pro-choice Gov. George Pataki — but painted his opponent, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, much further to the right. Mr. Astorino and Republicans in the State Senate have opposed the Women’s Equality Act based on its tenth tenet — enshrining into state law the 40-year-old Roe v. Wade decision giving women the right to an abortion. Mr. Cuomo said opponents to the legislation “will not stop until abortion is illegal.” “The ultra-conservative tail is wagging the Republican dog,” Mr. Cuomo said of Republicans in the state. Mr. Cuomo said that stance spread to other issues as well — pointing to GOP opposition to marriage equality and gun control, and pointing to Mr. Astorino’s reported support for marksmanship classes in some school districts. “My opponent says we should teach children in schools how to use guns. Can you believe that?” Mr. Cuomo asked, to plenty of booing from the crowd. As they often have when it comes to women’s issues, Mr. Astorino’s campaign pointed to the governor’s support of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who oversaw a taxpayer-funded settlement to women alleged Assemblyman Vito Lopez had sexually harassed them. “Andrew Cuomo never ceases to amaze: He protects Sheldon Silver from prosecution in the worst Albany sex assault coverup in state history, and then has the temerity to say he champions women’s rights. When sex assault victims needed his help, Mr. Cuomo protected the old boys network instead,” spokeswoman Jessica Proud said.


Tuesday, 21 October 2014

If You Don't Support Women's Rights in Birth, Don't Call Yourself a Feminist

I recently read a post (and a slew of supporting comments) on a popular parenting blog about birth plans and why you shouldn't have one. Yes, you read that right -- why you shouldn't. I get where the author is coming from. Can birth be unpredictable? Sure. Can having a vision of your ideal birth set you up for disappointment if it doesn't go exactly as you had planned? Absolutely. The birth of a child is, after all, a day that most of us have thought of and wondered what it would be like since we were children. I know I did.
But you know what is likely even more disappointing than maybe not getting your ideal birth? Getting railroaded into unnecessary interventions during your birth because you didn't know you could say "no." Feeling completely and utterly unsupported during your labor and delivery because you unknowingly picked a hospital with an unprecedented 50 percent C-section rate. Suffering birth trauma or postpartum depression or anxiety as a result of what happened to you in the hospital on a day you spent years dreaming about, but no time planning for.
Here's what the post didn't say. That most women spend more time planning their wedding than they do the birth of their first baby. That unnecessary interventions that actually harm mothers and babies are happening at alarming rates in the United States. That the maternal mortality rate in this country is shockingly awful. That depending on which hospital you choose to birth your child, you may be pushed, manipulated, even threatened into receiving procedures that turns out are not the best thing for you or your baby.
With all that being said, should you do some research before you give birth? You better believe it. You better come up with some kind of birth plan before walking through those hospital doors. You better know your rights and then some. You better find a doula or two to back you up so you don't have to fight for yourself while you're trying to bring your child into the world. Should you have to do this? Should it be so hard to have a baby without feeling coerced or tricked or pressured? Nope. But it is. That's birth in America and if you didn't know well now you know. Telling women not to do their research, not to have a plan, not to stick to their guns and know their rights isn't just ignorant about the state of birth in this country, it's anti-feminist and it's wrong.
My first birth was like so many women's first births. It's a dime a dozen, like practically every birth story I hear. I thought I knew what I was doing, walked into the hospital and BAM. News flash, your birth does not belong to you. Get in the bed and stay there. Labor on your back until you can't take it anymore and your unmedicated birth goes out the window. Watch the doctor pick up the scissors and slice you open up to your ass before you could say "no -- don't cut me." When I compare birth stories with my mother's first birth in 1983, it'a strikingly similar. She had made a plan with her doctor, but when she arrived at the hospital her attempts to stick to her plan were made challenging. Upon her request to not be held hostage to her bed as her doctor had promised, the nurse looked at my father and said, "I guess we know who wears the pants in this family." Thirty years later, why are we still telling women they're control freaks for wanting some say in what happens to their bodies?
It took me years to process what happened -- that I literally should not have taken it lying down. In fact my initial response was like so many others. "I guess I shouldn't have set my sights so high." Then I started to educate myself about birth. Something I should have done before I ended up with birth like the one I had.
I had the right to change doctors when mine laughed at me for bringing up a birth plan. I had the right to walk the halls, not be strapped to a bed covered in monitors. I had the right to let my baby take her time. I had the right to refuse vaginal checks during back labor which is by far the most painful thing I've ever experienced in my life. I had the right to let my body open and my baby come out without an episiotomy that took months to heal. I just didn't know it.
When I read comment after comment after comment telling women that their healthy baby is all that matters, I get so angry I want to cry. Do people really believe this is ALL that matters or is it just something to say? To me, it seems like a cop-out. If birth doesn't matter, it's okay to have a lesser quality of care during and immediately after birth. It's okay to crush a woman's hopes of a positive birth experience. It's okay to tell her her body isn't capable.
But do people really feel that women's rights do not matter? That how a woman is treated in labor doesn't matter? That having major surgery without cause that often makes recovery far more challenging is no big deal? That a woman's first moments as a mother don't matter? And when I read comment after comment after comment from nurses and other hospital staff saying "we laugh at women who come in with their silly birth plans" I feel the same. How can you fault a women for wanting to know her rights when we have a maternal health crisis in this country? How can you laugh at her? It makes me think that people who work in hospitals should really do their own research about birth.
We all want healthy babies. Lets not get confused about that. But to say it's all that matters means that women don't matter. It means that birth doesn't matter. And no matter who you are and where you live, birth matters. Birth has always been important to women and it always will be.
We are lucky to live somewhere where women don't have to die in childbirth. We are lucky to have hospitals to provide life-saving procedures when a birth does not go as planned. But here's the thing -- it's still happening. Women are dying because of the very interventions that are supposed to be reserved for true emergencies. We are creating emergency situations out of thin air because we don't allow birth to happen and we call that empowerment? I don't think so.
My hospital experience led me to seek out a better birth and four years later, I had my son at home in a pool of warm water with my husband, two midwives and a doula by my side. My recovery was a breeze compared to that of my first birth and I bonded with my baby much easier this time. I was able to care for my child more fully in those early weeks, not having to struggle to sit down from an enormous incision down below. I didn't have bad feelings about my birth because I was fully supported throughout it. I don't believe this type of birth is for every woman. But for me, it was wonderful. I made the choice to take back my birth but it was not conventional and it is often highly scrutinized and misunderstood in our culture. I'm happy to go against the grain because for me, that experience was worth it. But women shouldn't have to have their rights taken away from them to come to these hard truths that the hospital might be becoming our biggest fear, not our ally.
Here's what I'd like to ask you to do, especially if you are in the habit of mocking women who know their rights in childbirth. Support choice whenever possible. Empower women. Listen. Learn. Don't be part of the problem. Don't tell her her birth isn't important or that she is stupid or selfish for caring about it. Be part of the solution. Maybe one day women won't have to make these birth plans that you feel only exist to annoy you. Maybe one day we'll live in a world where birth is safe. Don't criticize the woman who fights for her birth. Stand by her side and fight with her.


Monday, 20 October 2014

Women’s sporting rights put Saudi Arabia and Iran on the defensive

The struggle for the right of women to engage in sports and to attend sporting events has commanded increased attention with the hunger strike of a British-Iranian national incarcerated in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison, the expected arrival in Saudi Arabia of Australian women fans for the Asian Champions League final, and the rare appearance of Saudi women in an all-male stadium in Abu Dhabi.
The issue of women’s rights also rose on the international sporting agenda with the withdrawal of the Qatari women’s basketball team from the recent Asian Games after they were banned from wearing a headdress. The incident underlined the fact that women’s rights also include the right to compete with headwear that meets safety and security standards and is culturally acceptable.
In response to the withdrawal, the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) said it would next year ease the ban. Soccer paved the way for accommodating religiously observant women athletes with FIFA’s acceptance two years ago of the principle that women were allowed to wear approved headgear.
The increased attention on women’s sporting rights has put Saudi Arabia and Iran, the two Middle Eastern nations that ban women from entry into stadia during competitions, on the defensive and raises questions about the international sporting community’s forcefulness in opposing restrictions that violate fundamental rights. International Olympics Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach said after last month meeting Saudi Arabia’s newly appointed Olympic chief Prince Abdullah bin Mosaad bin Abdulaziz that women’s rights was being discussed.
Human Rights Watch last week called on the kingdom to make clear what steps it was taking to ensure that women are included in international competitions and able to participate in sports generally. Saudi Arabia failed to field women athletes at the recent Asian Games after it was forced by the IOC to allow all of two expatriate women to compete in the 2012 London Olympics.
The degree to which Saudi Arabia feels pressured by increasingly unsustainable restrictions on women’s sports was evident in Saudi responses to criticism. Rather than point to the kingdom’s long-standing denial of women’s rights rooted in culture and justified by a puritan interpretation of Islam, Mohammed al-Mishal, the secretary-general of Saudi Arabia's Olympic Committee, said that Saudi Arabia did not have women athletes who would have qualified for the 2014 Asian Games.
Mr. Al-Mishal however indicated that despite Saudi Arabia’s promise to field women athletes at the 2016 Olympics in Rio Janeiro they would be limited to sports endorsed by a literal interpretation of the Qur’an. The Saudi official said the kingdom was training women to compete in equestrian, fencing, shooting, and archery Olympic contests, which are "accepted culturally and religiously in Saudi Arabia".
Human Rights Watch Middle East and North Africa director Sarah Leah Whitson dismissed Mr. Al-Mishal’s defence as excuses. “Two years after the London Olympics, the time for excuses is over – Saudi Arabia needs to end its discrimination against women and ensure women’s right to participate in sport on an equal basis with men... Limiting women’s participation to specific sports is yet another example of Saudi Arabia’s refusal to allow women to compete on an equal basis with men,” Ms. Whitson said.
Despite the restrictions, Saudi Arabia has taken small steps towards expanding women’s ability to engage in sports. The country’s Shura Council, a consultative assembly, has urged the education ministry to study the possibility of introducing physical education for girls in public schools. The move could lead to a lifting of the ban on female sports in public schools.
Moreover, authorities last year began licensing private sports clubs for women. Saudi Arabia has further struggled for years with proposals to build separate women’s sections in stadia – a move that has been staunchly resisted by the country’s conservatives. Manal Al-Dabbagh nevertheless became in August the first Saudi woman photographer to be allowed to photograph a soccer match in a stadium.
Writing on CNN’s website, Lina K. Almaeena, a prominent Saudi promoter of women’s sports, noted that Saudi officials have promised enhanced opportunities for women for years. Ms. Almaeena said those promises remained unfulfilled because of “logistical challenges” such as a lack of profession female professionals and adequate space that would ensure that women are shielded from the view of men. As a result, the government has yet to include physical education in the curricula of girls’ schools and enable women to use neighbourhood facilities and train for international competitions.
With the exception of the Equestrian Federation, women are not members of the boards of Saudi sporting associations. The absence of women board members in the case of the Saudi soccer association violates a decision of the West Asian Football Federation that obliges its members to put women’s soccer rights on par with those of men and include women on their boards.
The controversy and domestic battles that women’s sports evoke was recently evident on social media in response to a YouTube video viewed by nearly half a million people. The video showed a rare female Saudi soccer fan clad in traditional all enveloping dress cheering her club, Al Hilal, against the United Arab Emirates’ Al Ain in an Asian Champions League match. The UAE, by contrast to to Saudi Arabia, does not bar women from stadia. The woman is seen shouting in frustration at a bad tackle on the pitch. As she shakes her fist in anger, her sleeve rolls up and exposes her lower arm.
Commenters on the video lined up on both sides of the argument with 1,826 dislikes and 969 likes. In support of the woman, one commenter denounced segregation rooted in the kingdom’s adherence to Salafism, a diverse Islamic trend that seeks to emulate life at the time of the Prophet Mohammed and his immediate successors, as the product of “a sick and obsessed mind.” An opponent reiterated that “we do not allow women to have 100% freedom… Most Muslim women agree with I don't understand how most of the world’s women wear tight clothes and walk half naked on the streets and beaches as if it were normal ..! Don’t these women have brothers or fathers???”
A Saudi psychiatrist warned in July that women’s passion for soccer constituted a need to release pent-up energy and imitate others that endangered a woman’s role in a conservative Muslim society.
The issue of women’s stadium attendance will present itself again when Australia’s Western Sydney Wanderers meet Al Hilal in the Asian Champions League finals in Riyadh on November 1st. Australian media have expressed concern whether female and Jewish supporters would be granted visas for the match. Saudi Arabia has long lifted its restrictions on allowing Jews into the kingdom and has in the recent past facilitated attendance of sporting events by Brazilian and New Zealand women fans when their teams were visiting the country.
The granting of entry to stadia to foreign women supporting a visiting team has sparked heated debate in Saudi Arabia. Controversy erupted in February when a group of female American Congressional staffers were allowed to attend a match in a Riyadh stadium from which Saudi women were barred.
Saudi Arabia’s failure to forcefully act on repeated promises and follow up on its promises to field women athletes at the London Olympics like the imprisonment of 25-year old British-Iranian dual national Ghoncheh Ghavami suggests that achieving women’s sporting rights is a lengthy battle. International pressure will likely have to involve more than efforts at quiet behind-the-scenes persuasion.
Ms. Ghavami was charged with spreading propaganda against the Iranian government after she attempted in June with more than a dozen other women to enter a stadium where the Iranian national men’s volleyball team was playing the Italian national side. Iran in contrast to Saudi Arabia encourages women’s sports even if it bars women from stadia.
Writing in The Guardian, journalist and author Azadeh Moaveni argued in the case of Ms. Ghavami that international pressure on Iran to adhere to human rights standards would be more effective and “seem less a political tool to batter Iran when it is expedient than a permanent concern” if what the Islamic Republic’s critics “strive for is consistency, including human rights concerns as part of the ongoing political approach to Iran so that it becomes a fixed expectation in Tehran as well.” That is true not only for Iran but also the struggle for women’s sporting and human rights in Saudi Arabia as well as elsewhere in the world.


Sunday, 19 October 2014

News for Today

Contributed by Farah I. Nájar Arévalo

Lavanderías de las Magdalenas: las monjas irlandesas no piden perdón

At least a million girls victimized in Colombia’s armed conflict:

Feminist games critic cancels talk after terror threat

Congressman: "Where Are the Women's Rights Groups" Challenging the One Child Policy?

Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) is one of Congress’s loudest voices on right to life issues. One of his most passionate causes, is exposing and dismantling China’s inhumane One Child Policy.
At the Heritage Foundation this Thursday, Smith joined fellow freedom fighters Reggie Littlejohn, President ofWomen’s Rights Without Frontiers, and human rights activist Chen Guangcheng, for a discussion of China’s disastrous policy.
Smith began with a powerful speech at the podium, listing just a few of the law’s atrocities. Here a just a few reasons why Smith calls the One Child Policy the “most egregious act against women ever:”
“It bans single moms from carrying to term.”
“Women are held in punishment cells or her relatives beaten if she resists pressure. Or, she is forced to undergo a forced abortion.”
“There are 590 female suicides per day – the only country higher than male suicides. It’s three times higher.”
Smith also mentioned a few other inevitable consequences that have resulted from this policy. Namely, that China has become one of the world’s prime hubs for sex trafficking, and that the surplus of Chinese men has led to economic instability and raised the specter of war.
With all these factors in mind, Smith had a list of people to criticize. Namely, women’s rights groups who are too busy claiming Republicans are waging a “war on women,” and the Obama administration for not taking decisive action against the Chinese government – especially since they’ve had ample opportunity to do so. When Vice President Joe Biden visited a Chinese university three years ago, he said he “fully understands” the policy and “wouldn’t second guess it.” Smith called these statements “unconscionable.” Biden presumably refused to challenge the policy because he didn’t want to hamper trade relations, Smith explained. Smith also challenged the Obama administration for giving money to the United Nations Population Fund, which he says is “complicit” in the One Child Policy.
Smith is not just looking for applause. In addition to putting forward legislation to raise awareness and end the atrocities in China, he was also part of the successful effort that helped activist Chen Guangcheng escape from a prison cell in China, where he was being held for demonstrating against the One Child Policy. Guangcheng has continued to fight against this legislation and powerfully simplified the policy for the Heritage audience:
“The government grabs babies out of your womb.”
Guangcheng shared one particularly tragic story about a couple in China who was pregnant without a permit. They were driving along a road one day and government officials stopped them and dragged the husband out of the truck and beat him. Then, they forcibly brought them both to an abortion clinic, where they forced the mother to terminate her pregnancy.
These kinds of stories are not anomalies – and it’s why Guangcheng is fighting every day to end the policy that has “demoralized” his country, as he puts it. 
Women’s Rights Without Frontiers President Reggie Littlejohn had some other devastating statistics to share about China’s Once Child Policy:
“In the time we speak, at least 1,500 women will be aborted in China.”
“Up to 200 million women are missing today because of gendercide.”
Littlejohn also dedicated part of her speech to discussing how forced abortions in China not only kill wanted children, they also put mothers at risk. It’s so violent, she says, that sometimes women die in the operations too. What’s more, with each abortion, studies have shown women are at increased risks for breast cancer.
In this kind of environment, it’s no wonder Rep. Smith asserts that for women in China, their “trauma is beyond comprehension.”


Saturday, 18 October 2014

Women’s rights group weighs in for—Chevron?

The group once known as NOW Legal Defense Fund is backing the oil giant on a key legal issue, as are some human rights scholars. 

Chevron  CVX -0.54%  has won support from some unexpected allies in its civil racketeering case against New York lawyer Steve Donziger, who obtained an allegedly fraud-and-bribery-marred $9.5 billion environmental judgment against the oil giant in Ecuador in 2011.
Among seven friend-of-the-court (amicus) briefs filed yesterday supporting aspects of Chevron’s case, the most surprising came from the oldest women’s rights group, Legal Momentum—known until 2004 as the NOW Legal Defense and Educational Fund. Its brief supports Chevron’s position on the key legal question of whether courts can issue injunctions in private civil racketeering cases. The group has previously used the federal statute in question—the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act of 1970 (RICO)—to obtain injunctions against violent protesters at abortion clinics.
A second notable brief came from a group of six “human rights and anti-corruption jurists” who are evidently attempting to rebut, if not rebuke, the arguments of Donziger and New York University professor Burt Neuborne, a lawyer for Donziger’s clients, who have argued, for instance, that the litany of crimes Donziger was found to have committed by a Manhattan federal judge last March are a “distasteful sideshow” that should not distract from Chevron’s alleged wrongdoing in Ecuador.
“Advocates for human rights do not advance human rights by violating them,” these new amici argue, “and the corrupt pattern of fraud, extortion, and bribery described by the District Court, if accurate, denies the fundamental human rights to due process of law and a fair trial. … Human rights ends, in short, cannot be promoted through corrupt means.”
The seven briefs were filed in connection with an appeal by Donziger and two of his Ecuadorian clients of a 485-page, 1,842-footnote ruling by U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan, entered last March in Chevron’s suit against Donziger under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). Kaplan found that Donziger had procured the Ecuadorian judgment—for contamination left behind by Texaco, which drilled in the Ecuadorian Amazon from 1964 to 1992 and was acquired by Chevron in 2001—through a pattern of racketeering activity, including extortion, fraud, bribery, witness tampering, obstruction of justice, money laundering, and other crimes. (I summarized highlights of the alleged wrongdoing in this essay.) Kaplan entered an injunction barring U.S. courts from enforcing the judgment, and attempting to bar Donziger from profiting from it even if another country’s courts eventually do enforce it.
A key issue on appeal is whether injunctive relief—court orders as opposed to monetary damages—are available in a private civil RICO case. (Though it’s clear that injunctions are available in criminal RICO cases and in civil RICO cases brought by the government, federal courts are split on whether they’re available in private civil cases.) The issue became crucial when, shortly before trial, Chevron dropped its damages claims against Donziger, which could have come to over $100 million. It did so, it has said, in order obtain a written opinion from the judge detailing Donziger’s wrongdoing—a jury would have rendered a simple yes-no verdict on liability, with no explanation. (I have also speculated elsewhere that, in addition, Chevron may have feared jury nullification, given Donziger’s skill at politicizing the case, and the legitimate, underlying, unresolved questions about Texaco’s conduct in Ecuador.)
A third amicus brief, also arguing that injunctive relief is available in civil RICO cases, was filed by G. Robert Blakey, professor emeritus at Notre Dame Law School, who was chief counsel of the Senate subcommittee that worked on the bill that became RICO in 1969 and 1970. The remaining briefs come from the Chamber of Commerce, theBusiness Roundtable, joined by four international law scholars; the Washington Legal Foundation; and threespecialists in Latin American law.
In July, amicus briefs were filed supporting reversal of all or aspects of Judge Kaplan’s ruling by the Republic of Ecuador; close to 40 international law professors from all over the world; a group of amici including Amnesty International and 17 environmental groups (including two that have received substantial funds from Donziger’s team);EarthRights International; and Judith Kimerling, a law professor at City University of New York’s Queens College and School of Law, who unsuccessfully tried to intervene in the RICO case to represent an indigenous minority group, the Huaorani, whom, she alleges, Donziger has represented inadequately and without authority.


Friday, 17 October 2014

Women's Rights Groups Protest Against Rich Funke

Rochester, NY (WROC) - Women's rights continues to be at the center of the 55th District state senate race.
Local advocates for women's equality held a protest against Republican candidate, Rich Funke Friday. They say Funke is against women, specifically the Women's Equality Act.
Funke is running against Senator Ted O'Brien for the seat. O'Brien's recent campaign ads slam Funke, claiming he opposes women's rights and equal pay. Advocates are calling on Funke to take part in a public forum to explain his views.
The Executive Director of Planned Parenthood for Central & Western New York, Betty DeFazio, says she wants Funke to "explains his rhetoric."
"We are inviting him to a campaign candidate forum," explains DeFazio. "It's really to accommodate his schedule for whenever it would work for him, because he's already cancelled two debates."
Funke's campaign responded by saying:

"Rich Funke cares deeply about women's rights, health and safety, and that's why, when he is elected to the senate, he will fight to enact an equal pay law, and protections against workplace discrimination, harassment and domestic abuse.