Calls on Funke to set aside personal beliefs to protect women’s health
July 11, 2018 (Rochester, NY) – Today, Governor Andrew Cuomo strongly urged New York’s Senate to return to work to pass “the Reproductive Health Act”,(1) which seeks to update New York’s outdated reproductive health law and codify the protections of Roe v. Wade at the state level. The Governor’s words take on new urgency in light of the announcement that Brett Kavanaugh, a well known opponent of Roe v. Wade, has been tapped to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court. Jen Lunsford, the Democratic candidate for State Senate in the 55th District, is running against Rich Funke, a Republican who has publicly opposed any attempt to codify Roe v. Wade at the state level since entering office in 2015.(2)
"The women of Monroe and Ontario Counties cannot afford to have elected officials like Rich Funke - who hold extreme anti-choice views on women's reproductive health issues - continue to represent us in the State Senate at this crucial time. Funke opposes the Reproductive Health Act and has shown animosity towards Roe v. Wade. These protections could have been in place three years ago but for the obstructionism from Senate Republicans. As one of his first acts as Senator, Funke celebrated that obstruction, calling it a “Win” at a rally with Rick Santorum.(3) Now we have a Supreme Court that appears poised to strike Roe down, and we need a Senator who will vote to protect our rights here in New York. Rich Funke is clearly unwilling to advocate for women’s health, and it's time for a new voice in the State Senate who shares the values of the vast majority of the people in this district," said Lunsford.
In a televised interview with Time Warner News during his first race for this seat in 2014, Funke was asked about the 10th provision of the Women’s Equality Act, which sought to codify the protections of Roe v. Wade. He responded: “ …[T]here are laws on the books in the state of New York….And there are protections for women within the framework of those laws. Codifying Roe v. Wade takes away all those restrictions, and all those protections. I don’t think that’s a good thing in terms of women’s health.”(4)
“New York women and families need protection now, and the fact that the Republican majority in the New York State Senate has let this bill languish year after year is a dereliction of duty,” said Lunsford on Wednesday.
According to Planned Parenthood Empire State Acts, “The RHA has been the subject of much misinformation. This legislation will not force any hospital or individual to provide abortion, it will not allow unqualified persons to provide abortion, and it will not prevent the state from regulating abortion to ensure its safety.”(5)
One of the first actions Senator Funke took when he came into office in 2015 was to join his Republican colleagues in removing the reproductive health language from the Women’s Equality Act. Funke went on to hail this as a “win” at a conference held in March of that year, which featured extreme right wing speakers like Rick Santorum and State Senator George Amedore (R-Rotterdam). (6)
Considering his past rhetoric, Lunsford observes, “The narrative pushed by Senator Funke, that the RHA somehow removes protections or threatens women’s health, demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of what the Act does and how it supplements the law that currently exists in New York.”
Doctors and reproductive health advocates across the state support the Reproductive Health Act and believe it is necessary to safeguard a woman’s right to choose in New York.
Doctor Matthew Brown, a family practitioner from Fairport, NY, says of the bill: “Unintended pregnancies disproportionately affect teenagers, who are both not as well-equipped to handle the stresses of parenthood, and are more likely to face medical complications both to themselves (pregnancy-induced hypertension, anemia, poor weight gain) and their child (low birth weight, increased incidence of SIDS, and higher overall mortality). The Reproductive Health Act will ensure that all healthcare options are available to my patients.”
The nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court places this issue at the forefront this election cycle. Robin Chapelle Golston, president of Planned Parenthood Empire State Acts, believes Roe v. Wade is likely to be overturned if Kavanaugh is appointed to the Court. "I definitely think that is a serious threat," Chappelle Golston said, "I mean, Trump pledged to nominate a nominee that would overturn - or be willing to overturn - Roe v Wade, so we think that is a total possibility."(7)