Here is another in our continuing series of articles about things going on in Rochester.
Kathleen Gallagher is not what one imagines when they conjure up an image of a pro-life lobbyist for the New York Catholic Conference. Though dressed professionally, a small tattoo of the first initials of her husband and children is visible. Though tattoos are commonly thought of as unprofessional, as their inks can fade, change color and become less than “work appropriate,” Gallagher shows her with pride. To her, nothing could be more appropriate to her work than a reminder of her family.
Gallagher is unlike her peers in other ways, too. Because she works in a dominantly blue state, her job is dedicated to blocking pro-choice legislature instead of working with government officials to create pro-life legislation, like her red state peers typically do.
Currently, she’s working on defeating the Reproductive Health Act, which is essentially a stand-alone version of the abortion provision set forth in the Women’s Equality Act. One of the main concerns for pro-lifers like Gallagher is that it calls abortion a “right.” Such rhetoric could threaten conscience protections for healthcare professionals.
The Reproductive Health Act was designed to ensure that a woman will be able to have an abortion if her health is endangered. It would also have treated the regulation of abortions as an issue of medical practice and public health, instead of as a potential crime, thereby guaranteeing that all people could use or refuse contraception.
Considering the fact that seven out of 10 New York state citizens from both sides of political and religious divides backed it, Gallagher was up against a challenge.
On the day of its vote, Gallagher when door-to-door to each of the legislative offices, hoping to convince them to vote no on the bill. The lobbyist needed nine votes in order to defeat the Reproductive Health Act in the Senate Health Committee.
Things became tense once the meeting got underway. Pro-life Democrat Diaz and colleague of Gallagher said, “They are killing our babies, they’re stopping the growing of our communities.”
“This legislation is not only a menace to our minority community but also a threat to our women,” argued Diaz. “It will move New York state in the opposite direction of ‘safe, legal, and rare.’”
Democratic Sen. Diane Savino reasoned that the bill wouldn’t expand late-term abortions, but Diaz argued back that it would.
“If you don’t support a women’s right to choose, there’s nothing I can say to you,” Savino said in reply to Diaz.
The vote was close, but Gallagher’s pro-life lobbying paid off, defeating the bill by just a single vote.
On her win, Gallagher said, “That’s all we get around here, is victory by one vote.”