Tracey Brooks. Margery Whiteman. Members of the Legislature. Friends.
As I do every year on your "Day of Action," first let me commend each and every one of you for coming to Albany and speaking for all of the women and children, all of the young adults and young parents of this state who are unable to be here themselves to advocate for family planning services.
May I say that it is always good to be here with Joan Malin and the members of Planned Parenthood and related agencies.
My Assembly Majority colleagues and I have profound respect for you and for the many doctors, nurses and health-care professionals who provide family planning and reproductive health services to those who would not otherwise be able to afford them.
It is a noble, compassionate and yes, courageous job that you do, and we support you one hundred percent.
As I'm sure you know, Justices of our United States Supreme Court right now are signaling that they may strike down a law in Massachusetts which established a 35-foot buffer zone around family planning clinics.
Why are they considering a reversal of that law?
Because they are buying into the argument that these buffer zones violate free speech and prohibit, and I quote, "peaceful conversation on a public sidewalk."
In a recent interview with The Daily Beast, Justice Scalia described abortion protestors as "counselors" who want to comfort women by speaking to them quietly and in a friendly manner.
Sadly, I guess the old saying is still true, a desk is a dangerous place from which to view the world.
This is why we worry. This is why we must remain vigilant. This is why we fight, because even in this amazing New Millennium the old, shameful double standard lives on. Even now, there are forces who want to take us back to the dark days when women suffered and died at the hands of back-alley charlatans.
More than four decades after Roe v. Wade, the battle for reproductive freedom rages on in legislatures and courtrooms across our country. But here in New York, Margaret Sanger's battle cry continues to drive us forward, that no woman can call herself free who does not own and control her own body.
Last year, despite our best efforts, the women of this state were denied their right to full equality under the law.
Led by the Democratic Women of the Assembly - with the courageous support of Republican Assembly Member Janet Duprey - we in the People's House lived up to our promise to shield women from the scourge of domestic violence, to protect and to defend a woman's right to choose, and to erase gender inequality in our state by passing the Women's Equality Act.
I am proud to tell you that this afternoon, the Assembly Majority will once again demonstrate its resolve and pass the Women's Equality Act - all ten points - because we believe that no woman in this state should be regarded as nine-tenths of a citizen.
I invite you to join us in the Assembly Chamber for the debate and the vote.
From this point forward, we must work together with Governor Cuomo and with the Women's Equality Coalition to achieve our goal and to hold accountable those elected officeholders who stand in our way.
However this legislative session unfolds, be assured of this:
For as long as I am Speaker of the Assembly, for as long as the People's House is guided by influential leaders you see here today, New York will continue to be a state where women control their own personal and private reproductive health decisions. New York will continue to strive to be a state that respects and empowers women.
So, please, we urge you to make the most of this, your Day of Action, and remember that you always have strong friends and supporters in the Assembly Majority.
Thank you and keep up the good fight.