What Fresh Hell Is This?

February 22, 2007

Mayor Luke and the Question of Contraception

I was lucky enough to attend the 14th ward Democratic Committee meeting this evening. It was described at the committees's website as:
14th Ward Democratic Committee Candidate Night at the Sixth Presbyterian Church, corner of Forbes and Murray. Candidate night for Mayor, City Controller, School Board, City Council, and non-judicial County Offices. Doors will open at 6:30. Only candidates that have submitted "Letters of Intent To Seek the Endorsement" will be provided the opportunity to address the committee at this meeting. Candidates will be scheduled to speak at specific time.
And I was disappointed to hear the moderator say that only members of the committee would be allowed to ask questions. Bummer - I had a great one planned out for Mayor Luke.

In any event after the mayor spoke, the floor was opened for questions. A woman in the second row (or was it third?) asked our young mayor a rather probing question. She began by saying that she'd heard that Mayor Luke had mentioned in private to some committee members that he didn't think people should be using contraceptives. The woman then basically asked whether that was true and if not, for him to ease her concerns about his committment to privacy - considering he'd voted against the Peduto/Shields "bubble zone" ordinance.

Over the murmurs of the crowd ("What does that have to do with anything?" was one murmur I heard), Mayor Luke began a very interesting answer. First off, he denied ever having had a conversation about contraception with any committee member. Then he went on to say that while he DID vote against he ordinance, it's now the law and he's going to uphold the law.

Notice what's missing? Whether he thinks people should be using contraception (and it's only a short jump from there to whether women should have access to abortion services).

It may have been an oversight on his part. It may have been a dodge. And while the question may have come from left field, since it was asked, don't you think the people of Pittsburgh deserve a clear answer to the question?

We certainly didn't get it tonight.


Mike said...

I understand the pro-life thing (I'm pro-life). But any elected official that doesn't openly promote contraception doesn't deserve their office.

Contraception does more than prevent pregnancy, it also prevents the spread of diseases. I know that the moral brigade (of which the Mayor is apparently a closet member) will always be opposed to contraception.

But I dare these people to go into an urban Catholic hospital. See destitute patients suffering from late-stage HIV. When I was sick, I couldn't help but see it, and it was terrible.

Here I was getting treatment because I had a different disease (ulcerative colitis) and insurance. But there were people who could've been spared the suffering walking amongst others there.

If the moral brigade really wants to stop casual sex, and intravenous drug use, they should stop spending money on billboards featuring the Mayor's face and start educating the public. In the meantime, condom distribution--contraception--saves lives, and is in the public interest.

I know that the overwhelming majority of the Democratic Party supports contraception, and I hope that members of the Pittsburgh Democratic Party will uphold our shared belief in the public interest. I'm very unimpressed by the Mayor's answer.

Matt H said...

I was there as well. It wasn't a dodge at all.

Anonymous said...

Matt H -

You WORK for the Mayor, don't you?

No chance that that might sway your recollection just a teensy bit, now would it?

PghLesbian said...

It is clearly a dodge. The young woman wasn't concerned about the secret conversation as much as his position on contraception. Only in Pittsburgh could we have a 26 year old Mayor who walks the old-school Catholic line on condoms and birth control pills.

Richmond K. Turner said...

I don't see his views -- especially his private views -- on contraception in any way relevant. It was a private conversation. Assuming that it happened at all, we have zero way of knowing what he was talking about. Perhaps he was dicussing how he and his wife are handling this issue. I know that, as a Catholic, I really struggled with this issue myself when I was newly married.

But we're talking about the "right to privacy" here. About reproductive issues, no less. As you might recall, that's the rather weak foundation that Roe v. Wade is based on. If you want to say that Luke Ravenstahl (or any other politician) doesn't have a right to his or her own private beliefs about contraception, then you might as well throw Roe into the dustbin of history.

The "bubble law" issue, however, is a worthy and important topic. Who's to say that the city's existing law won't get overturned at some point in the future? If it does, and council passes a revised version of the law, it will come across the mayor's desk for signature. It is very important that all of us, regardless of where we stand on the issue, know what our next mayor would do in that situation.

Since Peduto sponsored the existing law, the answer is pretty clear in his case. But Ravenstahl still owes us an answer to this one.

Mike said...

No, this is about public health. It is relevant. Will the Mayor follow New York's lead, and establish a condom distribution program that will save lives (and the city money too, but the lives are the important thing here)? It is clearly a Christain thing to do to prevent disease. (I suggest that the Mayor read God's politics rather than listen to the religious right).

On another note, I'm ashamed that a large part of the so-called "progessive" community is standing on the sidelines as this crap goes down. If you're progressive, you're for contraception--period.

Matt I said...

Is Matt 'H' on the mayor's campaign staff?

@#$%! said...

I was also at the forum, and I'm not sure how Luke's response could possibly be characterized as "not a dodge at all."

Clearly, by putting her question in the context of the bubble zone dialogue, the woman was asking Luke to comment on his respect or lack thereof for privacy, as it relates to women's rights. She didn't want Luke to expound on his sex life. In fact, the nature of Luke's conversation with committee people doesn't really matter. She wanted him to acknowledge her question and offer up some kind of transparent view of his beliefs--his *political* beliefs--which have an impact on all of us living in this city.

Rather than acknowledging the question and respectfully providing an answer, Luke danced his usual dance: a joke, a denial, a dodging of the question, in hopes that we wouldn't notice his complete inability to contribute anything meaningful to the political dialogue in this city. Thanks, Luke. Noted.

Anonymous said...

"They better put our uteruses in a lock box and keep their hands off them!"

"Nothing better than institutionalized murder such as partial birth abortion"

- David DeAngelo

dayvoe said...

Ladies and Gentlemen;

It almost goes without saying that I have never said either of the sentences our anonymous troll is attributing to me.

If anyone has a site showing that I said anything even closely resembling either, I'd love to see it.

The burden of proof is on our troll's spindly shoulders.