This Is WHARR.
WHARR — the Women’s Health and Reproductive Rights working group of #GetOrganizedBK — established an ambitious goal for the first half of 2017: to convince the New York State Senate to update the state’s surprisingly outdated abortion law by passing the Reproductive Health Act (RHA).
We worked tirelessly — along with a large number of sister organizations, including Downtown Women for Change, One Voice to Save Choice, Rise and Resist, Brooklyn Persists, RHAVote, and others — to demand action to protect reproductive freedom in our home state.
And…we failed. The State Senate did not bring the RHA to the floor for a vote. Now the legislature is in recess until January 2018.
And yet…we also succeeded! We forged alliances, we made friends, we studied up on the dysfunctional NYS Senate and on Gov. Cuomo, we protested every single week, we lobbied, and we shared information with our neighbors. Those are victories, and we’re here to tell our story of who we are and where we are going (hint: we are NOT going away).
Throughout the summer and fall, we’ll be sharing reproductive health stories from our members, which illustrate exactly why our fight for women’s health care and reproductive freedom is so crucial. Please visit us here often to read them, and reach out to us if you have a story you’d like us to share.
Who Is WHARR?
We are Brooklyn-based neighbors acting together to fight against Donald Trump’s sexist, retrograde vision of America, and the threats he and his administration pose to reproductive justice and women’s health. As New Yorkers, we are also committed to pushing our state government — nominally Democratic, but actually controlled by Republicans — to pass laws that protect women and their reproductive freedom. We are proud members of #GetOrganizedBK.
As a team, we produce fact sheets on current issues and legislation; share stories about how those issues impact women’s lives; lobby our elected officials for positive change (and against anti-choice and other regressive policies that harm women’s health); hold events to share our work with our communities; and socialize with each other & sister organizations to keep up our energy for the crucial fight to protect women’s health and reproductive rights.
We formed in late 2016 out of equal parts despair and determination, and quickly identified the Reproductive Health Act as an area of focus. We educated ourselves about the dysfunctional New York State government, particularly the IDC, the group of so-called Democrats who are more concerned with power-grabbing than they are with legislating. We organized lunchtime rallies outside Governor Cuomo’s Manhattan office to tell him to use his political capital to push for the RHA. Those protests started on a cold Wednesday in January 2017 and continued every single week until the last day of the legislative session in late June. We held leafletting events at transit hubs and greenmarkets all over the city, educating other New Yorkers about our state’s dangerously outdated abortion law. We met with several NYS senators as well as staff of Governor Cuomo’s office to explain with passion and persistence who we are, what we want, and why we’re not going away.
It would have been easy to abandon our efforts, since this was an uphill battle all the way. But we don’t do easy. We do passionate, loud, determined, and informed, because we owe all who fought so hard for Roe v. Wade decades ago — and we owe future generations — our voices, our passion, and our conviction that women must have control over their bodies and must retain their legal right to abortion.
A final note to @NYGovCuomo and @NYSSenate: We may not be chanting in front of 633 Third Avenue every Wednesday during the summer recess, but we are working. We’re holding fundraisers and community forums. We’re building our membership. We’re strategizing and organizing. Elections come quickly, and you should know that our voices, our political support, our dollars, and our votes will go to those who work for, not against, women’s health and reproductive rights.