Elected officials and women’s groups in Queens gathered in honor of Women’s Equality Day in Forest Hills Friday to denounce S.J. Jung, the Democratic candidate challenging state Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Flushing), after his announcement that he does not support women’s right to choose on the matter of abortion.
The news conference was led by state Assemblywoman Nily Rozic (D-Flushing) with remarks by Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills), Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley (D-Middle Village), Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas (D-Astoria), District Leader Martha Flores-Vazquez and Government Affairs Manager for Campaign for Pro-Choice New York Emily Kadar.
At an Aug. 23 debate at the Queens Library in Flushing, the two candidates were given the opportunity to ask each other one question. Stavisky framed her question around the fact she is the first woman to be elected to state Senate from Queens County and asked Jung about his stance on abortion.
“This is such an important issue, allow me to be clear: I would not support abortion unless it threatens the health of a pregnant woman. That’s the only exception that I can think of. This is a very serious issue. You know, we pretend to know everything, but I completely disagree. Life is still a mystery,” Jung said at the debate in Flushing. So I will not support a woman’s choice.”
The speakers at the conference shared emotional thoughts about the realities of a world where women are forced to take a risky course of action in the face of an unexpected pregnancy due to rape situations.
Koslowitz used vivid imagery to explain the experiences of women prior to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on Roe vs. Wade, which is still waiting to be codified into New York State law.
“S.J. Jung is out of touch,” Koslowitz said. “I go back a long time to the days when if a woman wanted an abortion, you couldn’t get it. And if she needed it, she had to go to a sleazy place and had an abortion with a hanger. Maybe he doesn’t know about this, and he’s out of touch.”
Many of the speakers felt it was especially unfitting for Jung to succeed Stavisky with such views toward abortion because of the incumbent’s status as the first female from Queens elected to state Senate.
“S.J. Jung should be ashamed of himself. He asks the women of Queens for their votes, while pledging himself to restrict their rights. It’s appalling,” said Simotas, chair of the Assembly Task Force on Women’s Issues. She explained Jung did not belong in the Democratic Party because of his views.
Rozic contended that Jung’s views were so far removed from the needs of his potential constituents that he is not qualified to represent the women of Queens. Flores-Vazquez said to take away a woman’s right to choose would be to promote stress and hardship, and that stopping Jung from making it into office would be a priority for her.
“We need strong pro-choice women defending our rights in Albany, not those who will betray the women of Queens,” Rozic said.
Additional remarks were issued by Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, the New York State Women’s Equality Party and the Eleanor Roosevelt Legacy Committee.
“It’s amazing to me that S.J. Jung, who wants to replace the only woman from Queens in the state Senate, also wants to abolish the most fundamental rights of women to make their own health care decisions,” Katz said.
Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhall
©2016 Community News Group
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