The battle over women’s health care came to Bay Ridge on Tuesday, as members of the National Organization for Women rallied on 86th Street to protest a pattern of “anti-woman” votes by freshman Rep. Michael Grimm.
Specifically, the four members of the group’s New York chapter railed against Grimm’s vote to cut funding for health clinics, and for his co-sponsorship of HR 3, a controversial bill that would further narrow existing federal restrictions on the use of public money to finance abortions.
“He is attacking women from every side,” said Jean Bucaria, deputy director of NOW-NYC. ”He is cutting healthcare for women — and it’s not right.”
The protesters’ petition specifically called for Grimm (R–Bay Ridge) to withdraw his support for the so-called “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” which would make permanent the current federal ban on coverage for abortions and would also prohibit federal funds from being used in health care plans that cover abortion.
Grimm has also been under fire because he also supported a provision in an earlier version of the bill that required rape to be “forcible” before a victim could get a publicly financed abortion.
The congressman also voted in February in favor for the Pence Amendment, which would eliminate federal funding of Planned Parenthood and its 102 affiliates. The national group provides venereal disease screening, contraception and general physical examinations. The group also provides abortions, though that service is already not covered by federal funding.
“He is a hypocrite,” said Brielle Valence, a NOW member. “He wants the people to pay for his healthcare, but he doesn’t want to pay for ours.”
In two hours of protesting, NOW seemed to win over some voters.
“Would I vote for Grimm? No,” said Maureen Helmers of Bay Ridge. “I’ve been pro-choice my whole life.”
And this wasn’t strictly a “woman’s issue”; more men than women stopped to listen.
“He’s a scumbag,” said Peter Loukas of Staten Island. “He doesn’t want to give women access to things they need.”
Joshua Rivera of Sunset Park agreed.
“What he’s doing is selfish,” said Rivera. “Without healthy women, there can’t be a healthy society.”
Grimm did not return repeated calls for comment, but has said publicly that he believes that the American people do not want to fund abortion.