NARAL Goes After Donovan for Crisis Pregnancy Center Award

NARAL Pro-Choice New York held a conference call this morning to highlight the fact that Republican attorney general candidate Dan Donovan received an award from Crisis Pregnancy Center of New York in 2003.

NARAL recently conducted a year-long investigation into the crisis pregnancy centers, which found that they discourage women from considering abortion, while presenting themselves as an unbiased outlet for pregnant women.

“We are disappointed that Dan Donovan has not been upfront with the women of our state,” said Kelli Conlin, the group’s president. “While insisting that he would protect reproductive rights, he has remained silent about his alliance with the very organizations that make it their purpose to prevent women from accessing reproductive health care.”

Conlin also criticized him for helping the group secure funding, based on a Staten Island Advance piece that says he “was instrumental in obtaining grants for the project for the past four years.”

NARAL been a strong backer of Donovan’s opponent, Eric Schneiderman, whose father previously sat on the board of the organization. Conlin introduced Schneiderman at his primary victory party last month.

Donovan has repeatedly stated that he will uphold the state’s pro-choice laws, regardless of his own personal views on the issue. NARAL and other groups have made a concerted effort to cast that as not good enough, saying the state needs a pro-active protector of abortion rights.

In response to this morning’s call, the Donovan campaign emailed a statement titled “The Real Story Impacting the Race for AG: Eric Schneiderman’s Purchase of NARAL” with this quote from a Village Voice piece about the ties between NARAL and Schneiderman’s father, Irwin, who previously sat on the group’s board.

“Irwin Schneiderman, the candidate’s wealthy father, has been a board member of NARAL for at least a decade, was once its chair, and also served as the treasurer of its political action committee, stepping down from his NARAL posts in April, according to Samantha Levine, the abortion rights league’s spokeswoman. Levine concedes that the senior Schneiderman has been the single largest donor to its political action committee, giving at least $75,000 in the last 6 years. In fact, Schneiderman was the only donor to each NARAL PAC through different two-year cycles, and has accounted for 50 percent of its Women’s Health PAC’s funding since 2004 and 47 percent of the total raised by the second PAC.”

Schneiderman’s campaign responded to the response:

“Once again, when faced with serious substantive questions about their candidate, the Donovan campaign unleashes long essays that totally avoid the questions. So we’ll make this real simple: Did Mr. Donovan secure grants for an anti-choice activist group for four years, how much was it for, and why did the group award him for this anti-choice activism? Does the Donovan campaign think that the Staten Island Advance, who reported this, is an unreliable news organization?”

We have inquired as to whether the grants secured by Donovan were public or private, and will update with any reply. Below is the Advance piece, provided by NARAL.

Staten Island Advance (NY)

May 8, 2003

Crisis Pregnancy Center plans tributes at fund-raiser

The Crisis Pregnancy Center of New York, with headquarters in New Dorp, will host its fourth annual spring gala, “Images of Life,” Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the Renaissance, Grant City.

The group will honor Deputy Borough President Dan Donovan, the Rev. Daniel Mercaldo and the Rev. Kevin Rhodes, who, through the years, have been instrumental in its success.

The two ministers helped start the center in 1985, with the Rev. Rhodes serving as its first board chairman. Mr. Donovan has been instrumental in obtaining grants for the project for the past four years.

The dinner is open to the public at $75 per person. Reservations may be made by calling (718) 667-4357, extension 12. The Rev. Timothy Mercaldo of Gateway Cathedral, son of the pastor, will head the entertainment for the gala.

The evening’s proceeds will benefit the mission of the Crisis Pregnancy Center, which is to reach out and make known the services available to women in a crisis pregnancy or those suffering from the effects of a past abortion. All services are free and confidential.

DANIEL DONOVAN

With more than 10 years of public service under his belt, Mr. Donovan has served as deputy bureau chief of the Special Narcotics Prosecutor’s Office for the New York County District Attorney, and in 1996, he was appointed chief of staff under Borough President Guy Molinari.

In January 2002, he was appointed Deputy Borough President of Staten Island by Borough President James Molinaro.

Always a great supporter of the Crisis Pregnancy Center, Mr. Donovan also played a key role in efforts to help provide financial support and assistance to families and victims who perished in the World Trade Center disaster.

[…]

The Crisis Pregnancy Center was first established by a group of concerned Staten Islanders who donated their time and money to meet the need of informing the community about the real facts surrounding abortion, sexually-transmitted diseases and the cause and effect of sexual activity.

While it also supplies material aid for both infants and pregnant women, its most important objectives is to provide a loving, non-judgmental environment for all those who find themselves in crisis.

The evening’s sponsors are the Ruane Family of Dongan Hills, the Christie Family Foundation, Inc., the Davis Family Foundation, Inc., Vincent Papandrea and the Zenna Family Foundation, all colleagues of John Ruane on the N.Y. Stock Exchange.

For more information regarding the gala and the Crisis Pregnancy Center of New Y! ork, the number to call is (718) 667-HELP, extension 12.

Rollanda Cowles