By Mark Hallum
Democrat Cynthia Nixon, who is challenging Gov. Andrew Cuomo, was in Jackson Heights Monday for a cross endorsement of state Senate candidate Jessica Ramos in their bid to move progressive legislation forward at the state level.
During a news conference in front of the Queens Library in Jackson Heights, the gubernatorial candidate challenged Cuomo over the fact the Reproductive Rights Act has been stalled at state level for years, while Ramos continued her salvo against incumbent state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) for his involvement in the breakaway Independent Democratic Committee.
“Today Donald Trump will nominate someone for the [U.S.] Supreme Court as his choice, someone who will likely overturn Roe vs. Wade,” Nixon said.
Nixon said reproductive rights are at the top of her agenda not only because of the pro-life administration in the White House, but because her mother once had an illegal abortion prior to Roe vs. Wade.
“It was very hard for her to speak about, but she did tell me it was illegal and it was awful,” Nixon said. “All these decades later there is still so much at stake for New York women. Our reproductive laws are severely outdated and provide woefully inadequate protections… We need updated and stronger laws to enshrine abortion and enshrine access to contraception.”
Ramos slammed Peralta for not doing enough to address the needs of his immigrant constituents by through his membership with the IDC, which broke away from the mainline of the party to negotiate with the GOP majority in the State Senate.
“I feel that for a long time the failures of both state Sen. Jose Peralta and Gov. Andrew Cuomo have been one and the same,” Ramos said. “Our district, because it is the most diverse in the country, is at the crux of so many of the crises that are felt all over the country: the immigration crisis, the affordable housing crisis, the need for women’s affordable health care and health care for all.”
Ramos said the district she is running for does not have any hospital beds with the nearest medical center at Elmhurst Hospital in the next district over. She advocated for passing the DREAM Act to protect the undocumented brought here as children, single payer health care and rent reform.
“During Senator Peralta’s time in the Senate he has helped pass the strongest paid family leave program in the country, a $15 minimum wage, immigrant legal defense funding, and the largest increase in education funding in New York’s history,” a spokesman from Peralta’s campaign said. These accomplishments are far from failures, and he continues the fight for the DREAM Act, the Reproductive Health Act, and rent reform, a fight his opponent only chose to take up when she decided to run for office. For Ms. Ramos to say that he has in anyway obstructed these policies is dishonest and does a disservice to the community.”
Later on Monday, Cuomo announced an initiative to advance women’s reproductive rights legislation in the state by calling on the Legislature to reconvene and pass the Reproductive Rights Act.
“In the face of this federal assault, New York is going to protect itself because this state has always been the progressive capital of the nation,” Cuomo said. “This is the time to fight back. This is the time to resist. This is the time to make your voice heard. This is the time where every New Yorker has to say, you’re not taking women’s right to reproductive rights away. We’re going to protect ourselves because this is the state that has always stood up for what’s right.”
Cuomo also called on the state Dept. of Financial Services to require insurance providers to cover emergency contraception and 12 months of contraception without cost-sharing.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall