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PATAKI IS HYPOCRITICAL ON WOMEN'S RIGHTS

As president of the Buffalo Chapter, National Organization for Women, I am outraged by the hypocrisy of Gov. Pataki and his Republican administration.

In Pat Swift's Aug. 1 Women Scope column, I read about events the Pataki administration plans for September in observance of the women's-rights sesquicentennial.

This statewide event, during which women runners will advance a torch symbolic of the women's-rights movement from Buffalo to New York City, has been dubbed by Republicans as "Women Run the State." Who do the Republicans think they are kidding?

For much of the last decade, women's votes have represented the margin of victory for many elected officials. Acutely aware of the significance of this, the GOP thinks it can dupe women into re-electing a governor who has undermined their quest for equality and justice.

Calling this event "Women Run the State" is an absolute farce. Women have been systematically excluded from full and equal political participation and representation in New York State government.

Last year, the state was ranked 40th by the Center for Women in Government. The Republican Party bosses, who decide who will be supported for elected office, are men. Traditionally, money and support go to male candidates.

This 19th century sexist attitude might serve as a partial explanation for why there is but one Republican woman senator and precious few Republican Assemblywomen. Under the existing administration, it doesn't appear that women will be taken seriously anytime soon.

The opening ceremonies of the 150th Anniversary of the First Women's Movement should have included a full stage of women governors, senators and leaders, but sadly it did not.

If Pataki is so committed to honoring the Seneca Falls dream, perhaps he could explain his actions when he vetoed funding that supports New York women. This includes $110 million for child care, $25 million for day care, $125,000 for osteoporosis, $1.5 million for family planning, $708,000 for displaced homemakers, $1.5 million in low-cost loans for women- and minority-owned business and $100,000 for a Veterans Coordinator.

Pataki, who continually bills himself as being pro-choice and pro-woman, seems to have no problem authorizing the signing of contracts between Catholic hospitals and non-sectarian hospitals. As a consequence, many women will lose access to contraception, counseling, abortion, tubal ligation, vasectomies, in-vitro fertilization and other services prohibited by the Catholic Church.

So much for separation of church and state. In addition, Pataki has allowed a Catholic HMO (Fidelis) to serve as the mandated Medicaid managed-care provider for thousands of women.

Kathryn Lake Mazierski Lockport

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