MANH Lawmakers on the Move, Feb. 19, 2021

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Rodriguez Testifies in Favor of Freedom Trail Task Force Bill

Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez (Photo credit:
Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez

Yesterday, Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez (D-Washington Heights, Inwood) testified at a City Council hearing about his bill to establish a “Freedom Trail” task force.

Int. 293 would create a task force to consider the creation of a “Freedom Trail” – a visible path highlighting the City’s many historical sites related to the abolitionist movement. The task force would consist of various officials, scholars and representatives from relevant organizations.

As Rodriguez pointed out, Boston currently has their own Freedom Trail – and if they can have one, so can we.

“New York City today is not the same one we had at the beginning of the 20th Century, when more than 90 percent of the population was white,” said Rodriguez. “Today, New York City is 29 percent Latino, 27 percent African-American, 15 percent Asian; the rest of us, Irish, Jewish, Anglo. So we are a greatly diverse city.

“When I walked through the Freedom Trail site in Boston, I asked, why don’t we have it in New York City? It’s a matter of timing. I know that we have the most progressive class of the Council that we’ve ever had in our history. So this is our time.”

Maloney, Pressley Call on FDA to Lift Unnecessary Restrictions on Abortion Medication

U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (Photo credit:
U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney

Last Wednesday, U.S. Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens) and Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) wrote an op-ed for Elle calling on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to lift restrictions on mifepristone, a drug that allows women to safely terminate early pregnancies.

For decades, the FDA has placed stringent restrictions on the drug – most notably the requirement that women receive it from their prescribers in person. As Maloney and Pressley wrote, this restriction was always burdensome and unnecessary; however, it has become particularly problematic in the era of COVID-19, when showing up in person at your doctor’s office can be a dangerous affair. Even worse, the FDA has still not lifted the in-person requirement for mifepristone, despite doing so for several other drugs.

“There are no medical reasons for the mifepristone restrictions, only ideological ones,” they wrote. “And in light of the danger this requirement poses to people seeking medication abortion care at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, the FDA must immediately lift the unnecessary in-person dispensing requirement. Abortion is health care and should not be further siloed and stigmatized in our policy. We are committed to working with our colleagues to continue to fight to protect and expand access to safe, legal abortion care now and through the future.”

Read the full article here.

Brewer Launches New Senior Quality of Life Initiative

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer (Photo credit: New York County Politics)
Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer

Yesterday, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer (D) and The New York Academy of Medicine (NYAM) announced a new initiative to address the issues of Manhattan’s elderly population.

The Age-Friendly Manhattan initiative will collect feedback from older New Yorkers and use it to inform city planning and policy. To launch the initiative, Brewer released a report, “Steps to a More Age-Friendly Manhattan”, surveying over 1,000 elderly Manhattanites about their experiences with public services, including transportation, housing and healthcare.

“I speak to seniors every day about the daily benefits and ongoing challenges of living in Manhattan and I am so pleased to be able to release a systemic report with The New York Academy of Medicine about their experiences and quality of life as part of the newly-launched Age-friendly Manhattan Initiative,” said Brewer. “One of the most important findings in the latest report that surfaced was the ambulatory challenges our seniors faced, and during a time when the MTA is making news by removing benches from subway stations, our recommendation is that not only must the MTA and DOT install more benches at subway and bus stations, all subway stations should be made ADA-compliant.”

De La Rosa Speaks About State’s Parole System

Assembly Member Carmen De La Rosa (Photo credit:
Assembly Member Carmen De La Rosa

Yesterday, Assemblymember Carmen De La Rosa (D-Upper Manhattan) appeared on PBS’s “New York NOW” to discuss the problems with New York’s parole system.

The biggest problem with parole, in her view, is that not everyone has access to it. We often incarcerate New Yorkers with no chance of parole; furthermore, our parole board judges prospective candidates based on the offenses that got them into prison, rather than how they have behaved since their incarceration.

De La Rosa also pointed out that white incarcerated people are disproportionately more likely to have parole.

“We know that this system is unjust,” said De La Rosa. “This system disproportionately targets people of color, and it’s unfair. So we want to see some changes in that system, that are not based on racism and other systematic disparities that we’ve seen.”

Watch the segment here.

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