Planned Parenthood's politics arm jumps into District 3 race as endorsements roll in

The political campaign arm of Planned Parenthood Massachusetts is wading into the race for the District 3 Council seat, the latest in a slew of endorsements the various candidates are picking up ahead of the Sept. 12 preliminary.

Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund of Massachusetts (PPAF) said it’s backing Savin Hill labor lawyer Matt Patton in the seven-way preliminary. The field will be winnowed to two people seeking to replace Frank Baker, who is leaving in January after 12 years in the job.

The abortion rights organization also said it supports three at-large candidates: Incumbents Ruthzee Louijeune and Julia Mejia, and newcomer Henry Santana, who until earlier this year worked for the Wu administration as director of civic organizing.

“PPAF is proud to endorse a group of candidates for city council that have proven records and clear visions for advancing reproductive health equity in their community,” Dr. Nate Horwitz-Willis, the organization’s executive director, said in a statement. “These candidates will not only be effective, unapologetic champions for reproductive rights but are also committed to taking action to ensure residents have access to medically accurate, unbiased information about sexual and reproductive health care and their options, as well as comprehensive sex education.”

Horwitz-Willis added that Patton “understands that reproductive equity means having access to everything one needs to grow and raise their family if and how they choose, including equitable access to resources, quality education, affordable childcare, and the full spectrum of sexual and reproductive health care."

Patton, who works for the law firm Lichten and Liss-Riordan, is handling a lawsuit against a Worcester crisis pregnancy center. The suit alleges that Patton’s client was told by the clinic that her pregnancy was healthy when it was unviable. She later needed emergency surgery and the health clinic, “run by anti-abortion activists,” nearly cost his client her life, according to Patton.

“The issue of protecting a women’s right to choose and access to reproductive healthcare is more than politics–it is life and death,” Patton said in a statement. “Which is why it baffles me that all the candidates in the race for District 3 City Council have not joined me in signing Reproductive Equity Now’s pledge to fight for this and other rights." The statement did not name the candidates.

Separately, other District 3 candidates have picked up their own endorsements.

Afreda Harris, a community activist who served on the mayorally appointed School Committee, is backing John FitzGerald, a Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA) official. “I have come to know him as a true public servant who’s always available to help those in need. I know he will be a great addition to the City Council, and I am proud to support his campaign,” Harris said in a statement.

FitzGerald noted that she is known as a basketball mentor in addition to her time on the School Committee. A Roslindale resident, she is considered its longest serving member, having held a seat for nearly 20 years before stepping down in 2013.

Another longtime activist, Dorchester’s Lew Finfer, is supporting Ann M. Walsh for District 3. Known as a community organizer, Finfer is the former director of the Massachusetts Communities Action Network (MCAN), an umbrella organization for faith-based groups. Finfer and Walsh live near each other in Lower Mills.

“When my dog Emma ran home while we were in Dorchester Park after being spooked by a large dog, she got as far as Ann's yard and Ann got her home to us; that's neighborly constituent services,” Finfer said.

“Ann Walsh is a thoughtful, compassionate person with the common sense and commitment to both lead and join with us to help make Dorchester even better for all of us,” he added.

“I heard of Lew Finfer long before I met him as a neighbor in Boston,” Walsh said in her own statement. “As a student of social justice movements, I knew Lew as a leader in moving Boston’s communities forward. I am honored to have his support as we work together to bring a fresh start to District 3.”

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