Archive for the ‘Governor’ Category

The Battle is Far From Over

Friday, January 25th, 2019

The catastrophic enactment of the Reproductive Health Act has left pro-lifers, both in New York and beyond, feeling numb, angry and dispirited. The bill legalizes abortions up until the moment of birth, allows non-doctors to do abortions, removes any legal penalty for a domestic violence attack against an unborn child, and eliminates protections for babies born accidentally in an abortion. Perhaps the better name for the law is the “Guaranteed Dead Baby Act”.

It was the most devastating defeat for the pro-life cause in New York since the original legalization of abortion in 1970 and the failure to repeal the law in 1972. It came at the end of twelve years of fighting, in which we were able to hold off the passage of various versions of the law, including one specifically drafted by the Governor’s office and slipped into his budget. But after last fall’s election, which swept away the GOP control of the Senate, the passage of the bill was foreordained.

We never gave up – our bishops issued strong statements of opposition, we sent information to our parishes, our allies in the Evangelical churches fought hard, and about 40,000 emails were sent to the Legislature through the Catholic Conference’s Action Center. But elections have consequences. If it wasn’t clear before, it certainly is now. This is what happens if Catholics, other Christians, and all good people fail to make life a priority in their voting decision. And that means voting only for pro-life candidates and refusing to vote for anyone who favors legal killing of unborn children.

The injury was compounded by the insult of Governor Cuomo’s celebratory mood, climaxed by his decision to have state facilities lit up in pink to mark the passage of the bill. The obscenity of that decision is best seen in the lighting of the Freedom Tower’s pinnacle in pink. Remember, the Freedom Tower is built on a grave – the last resting place for the victims of 9/11, which included several unborn children. Every day in the United States, more children are aborted than the number of people who were murdered on 9/11. The Governor took a war memorial that belongs to all Americans, and perverted it into a beacon of the Culture of Death.

But the battle is far from over. The pro-abortion advocates who pushed for this horrific bill are powerful, rich and arrogant. They think we’re going to give up or that they can force us to conform, but they’re seriously mistaken. We will never stop working to create a Culture of Life and Civilization of Love. So what do we do now? Here are some thoughts.

The real question of abortion is not up to any legislature or governor. It will be decided one pregnancy at a time. The pro-abortion message relies on fear of all kinds — losing autonomy or lifestyle, the opposition of families, abandonment by the baby’s father, and so on. Every pregnant woman’s situation is unique, and we must be ready to respond to them as individuals, not as puppets in a political theater, and help them through their fears to hope and joy.

This is where our pregnancy assistance programs are so important. We clearly need to make a massive new investment in supporting pregnant moms and post-natal moms and babies. We have many great pregnancy support initiatives. One example is the wonderful Mother Theresa Home in Buffalo. Another is the Visitation Mission of the Sisters of Life. There are many, many more.

These pregnancy centers are in the cross-hairs of the pro-abortion movement, which desperately wants to shut them down. After all, they can’t handle it if women actually hear the truth and feel the love of people who will support a decision for life. The Supreme Court recently upheld the free-speech rights of  pregnancy centers, but they didn’t resolve the issue definitively. We expect further legislative and enforcement threats to the centers, so we have to be ready to defend them.

That leads to another key issue – the protection of religious liberty and conscience rights. Our resistance to abortion is grounded in the truth. We can never compromise with lies, and we can never permit anyone to force us to accept them. New York already has robust anti-discrimination protections for people who oppose abortion for religious or moral reasons. But people don’t know their rights and the government isn’t going to tell them. A major publicity campaign has to be undertaken to ensure that people know that they don’t have to knuckle under to the pressure to cooperate in abortion, and that they can’t be punished for their religious beliefs. This can lead to a wonderful legal irony – filing complaints and making our hostile state and local governments enforce the anti-discrimination laws to protect us.

We also have to keep our eyes open for the next big pro-life battle front – this time, at the other end of life. We are not a one-issue movement that only cares about abortion. There is a serious, well-funded and relentless effort to legalize assisted suicide and euthanasia, and they have set their sights on New York. This battle has been going on for a while, but it’s going to move to center stage now.

This is a spiritual battle, not just against political adversaries but against the powers and principalities (see Eph 6:11-18). On the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Cathedral of St. Patrick was filled for a Holy Hour and Mass for life. The Holy Spirit uplifts us, even in our dark hours, and nothing can prevail against Him. We have to convert our anger against this bill and its supporters into prayer. Remember what Jesus told us: “In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

The rich and powerful people in our society like to call themselves “the resistance” because they oppose the President and march wearing silly hats. But they’re just oligarchs in exile who want to recapture power. We are the real resistance. Our goal is not power, but conversion of heart for those who are appalled by injustice. Our message is “come, join us”, and not “we will force you to agree”. The most important tactic is our willingness to testify to the truth by our words and our actions, and our refusal to cooperate with injustice and lies.

We are in the epicenter of the Culture of Death, so if anyone really wants to fight it, this is the place. It’s easy to be pro-life in the deep red states, where they’ve already enacted every pro-life law imaginable and there are few abortion clinics. If you want to go where the action really is, come to New York.

We will never give in to the Culture of Death. We need to keep on our lips the brave words of the prophet Daniel when he stood up against the powerful people who wanted him to conform: “Be it known to you, O king, we will not serve your gods or worship the [pink] image which you have set up” (Daniel 3:18). Amen to that.

Even More Gubernatorial Abortion Radicalism

Tuesday, August 14th, 2018

Just when you thought New York Governor Andrew Cuomo had gone about as far as he could in supporting extremist abortion laws and policies, he manages to find ways to go even more radical.

Last week, the Governor announced a new state-funded website that gives people information about how to get an abortion. In bold, large-font type with strange capitalization reminiscent of Twitter rants, his internet announcement invokes an approaching anti-abortion apocalypse in such exaggerated and hyperbolic terms that they would exceed the most generous Orwellian standards:

In Light of Widespread Reports that Crisis Pregnancy Centers Provide Misleading, Medically Inaccurate Information on Reproductive Services to Dissuade Abortion, Campaign Connects Women to Accurate Information on Options for Unintended Pregnancies, Including Abortion. Facing Relentless Federal Attacks on Reproductive Rights, Governor Cuomo Will Fight Back to Protect Women’s Access to Reproductive Rights and Continue to Call on Senate to Codify Roe v. Wade

These alleged “widespread reports” actually come from the Governor’s allies in the abortion industry, and he gladly parrots all of their propagandistic talking points. As for “relentless attacks”, those are only in the fervid imaginations of abortion zealots, whose company the Governor regularly keeps and who are happy to number him among the true believers by endorsing him for re-election.

Does anyone really believe there’s a lack of access to abortion in New York? My office did some research a few years ago and found over 40 places to get an abortion in the City of New York alone. Mr. Google is happy to provide an extremely long list of abortion clinics in New York State, just for the asking. A simple search yields over 22 million hits, some of which might not be a place to have a child killed, but an awful lot of them are, and some of them are even helpfully reviewed by Yelp.

The horrific official abortion statistics from the New York State Health Department put the lie to any claim that there is difficulty getting abortions in our state:

  • 86,627 – the total number of abortions in New York State in 2015 — more than two sell-out crowds at the Mets’ Citi Field.
  • 367 – the number of abortions per 1,000 live births in the state. In other words, over a quarter of all pregnancies in our state ends with an abortion.
  • 505 – the number of abortions per 1,000 live births in New York City. In other words, over a third of all pregnancies in the City ends with an abortion.
  • 1,038 – the number of abortions per 1,000 live births for African-Americans in New York City. So there are more abortions than live births among African-Americans.
  • 2,106 – the number of abortions in our state after 20 weeks — after the time when unborn children can feel pain. How much more inhumane can we be, than to dismember a living human being who feels the pain of it?
  • 2,854 — the number of abortions where the mother had already had at least 5 prior abortions.

Seriously, if those numbers don’t horrify you, or at least give you pause, then I fear for the state and fate of your soul.

The Governor’s attack on pro-life pregnancy centers is truly bizarre. His press flacks said, “We are launching this public awareness campaign to combat the insidious spread of misleading, medically inaccurate information about reproductive health and to ensure all New York women know the options they are legally entitled to.”

Insidious? Really? You mean when pregnancy center volunteers actually tell women the real facts about the stages of fetal development, the potential side-effects of abortions, and remind them that an abortion ends the life of a real human being? Horrors. Of course, they cite no actual evidence whatsoever that pregnancy centers pose a threat to anything, because there is none. Anyone who thinks that volunteer-run, shoe-string-budget pregnancy centers are some kind of massive stealth threat to women’s health has drunk too much pro-abortion Kool-Aid.

One can only assume that the people who write the Governor’s scripts haven’t seen the videos of women being taken from Planned Parenthood clinics in ambulances due to complications from abortions, or they didn’t read the recent stories of the doctor who pleaded guilty this year to killing a woman in a botched abortion. Or perhaps they didn’t ask the Governor how many abortion clinics his Health Department has inspected recently (because it’s virtually none) and how many unlicensed clinics they’ve shut down (absolutely none). They certainly have never interviewed the women who have been coerced into abortions, or who were the victims of sex traffickers or abusers who were never reported by abortion clinics. I guess they were too busy complaining about pregnancy centers to investigate the abuses of the abortion industry.

Or perhaps they have discerned certain truths that are embedded deep in their hearts, and are reacting angrily because they feel threatened in their distorted worldview. Perhaps they realize that if women are truly presented with their options, in a loving and supportive environment, they might actually choose not to have an abortion. Perhaps they’re afraid that women will reject the lie that they cannot fully participate in life if they have an inconvenient pregnancy. Perhaps they’re worried that more and more women will see that life is a beautiful gift, and that when we receive it generously we become better people.

The truth is a frightening thing, when you’re in the grip of a radical anti-life ideology.

The Idolatry of Abortion

Wednesday, July 18th, 2018

Once upon a time, people who called themselves “pro-choice” insisted that nobody is really in favor of abortion, but rather they see it as a sad necessity for women who are forced to deal with an unwanted pregnancy. We even heard from President Clinton – and the First Lady – that they thought that abortion should be “safe, legal and rare”. These attitudes reflected the ambivalence of ordinary Americans about abortion. While most people support legal abortion in some cases, most actually oppose it and would impose restrictions on it in most cases.

While the ambivalence of Americans remains, the reticence of abortion rights supporters is long gone. The leading lights of that movement are revealing their true beliefs that abortion is a positive good that is not to be regretted but rather is to be celebrated. We are at the point where there is a virtual idolatry of abortion, where it is seen as a sine qua non for the active participation of women in society.

The nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court has been the catalyst for an astonishing amount of overheated rhetoric about abortion. We’ve seen claims that his confirmation will lead to the deaths of women, and even the display of the mythical coat-hanger meant to evoke illegal and dangerous abortions that are supposedly just around the corner. The fear-mongering will undoubtedly get even worse once the Senate convenes its confirmation hearings.

The most notable practitioner of waving the bloody shirt has been our Governor. His devotion to legalized and unrestricted abortion is long-standing, and his preference for outrageous rhetoric is well known. This is the man who once said that pro-lifers “have no place in the state of New York, because that’s not who New Yorkers are.”

He is now on the campaign trail pushing for the State Legislature to return to Albany for a special session to “codify Roe v. Wade” in state law. He recently made the bizarre statement that “If Roe v. Wade is overturned, women lose their right to choose in the state of New York today”. He must expect that nobody will actually fact-check him and realize that he is just making things up. The reality is that New York already has one of the most liberal abortion laws in the nation, one that pre-dates Roe and which permitted thousands of abortions prior to Roe. Abortion is available on demand, for any reason whatsoever, at any time prior to 24 weeks of pregnancy, and afterwards if the life of the mother is at risk. Overturning Roe will have no effect whatsoever on that – the vast majority of abortions will still be legal in New York.

The only way that the Governor’s statement makes any sense is when we realize that Roe was the high-point of abortion jurisprudence. It legalized late-term abortion to preserve a woman’s health – a term the Supreme Court defined so broadly that it means any reason whatsoever – and it was used by courts to strike down virtually all regulations on abortion at any stage of pregnancy. So what the Governor is really advocating for is unrestricted abortion and particularly late-term abortions on demand.

And that’s precisely what the Governor’s own abortion expansion bill would do. Back in 2013, the Governor introduced a radical bill as part of his “Women’s Equality Act” that would: expand the availability of late-term abortions on demand; permit non-doctors to do abortions, including late-term abortions; virtually eliminate the ability of the State or local governments to regulate the practice of abortion; immunize from criminal prosecution any person who directly tries to cause the death of an unborn child (e.g., in a domestic violence incident); and severely limit criminal prosecutions of unlicensed “back-alley” abortionists (which is ironic, given all the rhetoric about going back to the days of illegal abortions). That’s not a “pro-choice” bill, it’s the abortion industry’s wish list.

The Governor has also made the deeply weird statement that he will sue somebody for something in some court somewhere if the Supreme Court overturns Roe, and that’s why he really needs the Legislature to pass his abortion expansion bill now. I must have missed the class in law school where that makes any sense at all. Perhaps when the Governor was in law school he missed the class where they taught that the Supreme Court is the highest court in the nation, that there is no appeal to another court from its rulings, and that lower courts cannot overrule a Supreme Court decision.

The Governor also doesn’t seem to realize that Roe v. Wade is no longer the controlling law when it comes to abortion. In 1992, the Supreme Court decided the case of Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which permitted much more regulation of abortion than Roe did. By expressing his preference for the Roe legal standard, the Governor shows that he is out of step with public opinion, which supports many limitations on abortions, especially late-term abortions, and that he wants New York to have the most extreme abortion law possible.

Our Governor is not the only one who is going to such extremes. Many pundits and leaders of the Democratic Party are just as far out there. This is becoming clearer and clearer, and by the end of Judge Kavanaugh’s Senate auto da fe, it will be undeniable.

Perhaps the clearest example of how the pro-abortion movement has come to idolize abortion took place on late-night television recently. An unfunny comedienne staged a bizarre and crude “Salute to Abortion” that celebrated the unlimited right to destroy unborn children. “Progressive” pundits applauded, and politicians who publicly recoil from every incontinent tweet from the President were nowhere to be found or heard from.

There’s a reason for that. The ideology of abortion has reached the point in certain precincts in America where its adherents have turned it into a virtual idol. This is why we must continue to oppose the Governor’s radical abortion bill, and any effort to extend legal protection to the killing of unborn human beings.

Abortion Expansion is Still a Threat

Friday, April 6th, 2018

I have written before about the threat posed by Governor Cuomo’s abortion expansion proposal, which he introduced earlier this year as part of his budget. See my blogs ” The Governor’s Cruel Abortion Bill” and ” New York’s Insatiable Abortion Appetite“. This was a very dangerous threat, because by law a budget must be passed by April 1 and the only way to remove an item from the proposed budget is in the secret behind-the-scenes negotiations between the Governor and the leaders of the Assembly and Senate.

Thanks be to God, the pro-life members of the Senate and the Republican Senate Majority Leader, John Flanagan, held firm and the proposal was not included in the final budget bills that were passed on Good Friday. We have to be so grateful for all the efforts of the New Yorkers for Life coalition, particularly the New York State Catholic Conference and New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms. And we are extremely thankful for all the work done by our pastors and parishioners, especially those in the key Senate districts that we concentrated our efforts on.

But we can’t rest on our laurels. The abortion expansion threat is still very real. The Governor insisted in his post-budget press conference that he would continue to press for abortion expansion during the rest of the legislative session.

So we now have to focus our attention on the so-called Reproductive Health Act (A 1748/S 2796). This bill, in various forms, has been around for over a decade, and its current manifestation is virtually indistinguishable from the Governor’s budget proposal. It is a radical proposal that would give New York the most liberal abortion laws in the world — in fact, it would remove any limitations on abortion from our laws. It would:

  • Encourage more late-term abortions by removing our current law’s limit on abortions after 24 weeks there will be more late-term abortions in our state.
  • Permit non-doctors to do abortions by giving State bureaucrats unlimited discretion to grant a license to perform abortions to anyone they wanted.
  • Eliminate all criminal penalties for abortions so even if an abortion was involuntary or coerced, or if an unborn child is deliberately targeted for an act of violence, it could not be prosecuted. This would basically legalize domestic violence against unborn children.
  • Endanger children even after birth by eliminating a law that requires that a baby born alive after an abortion be given adequate health care. Instead, this bill would allow abortionists to leave those children to die of neglect and starvation.

For more detailed information about the bill, see our Office’s information page and this bill memo from the New York State Catholic Conference.

This horrible piece of legislation has already passed the Assembly, by the absurdly lopsided vote of 93 to 44. Of the forty-four Assembly members who represent parts of the Archdiocese, it is a disgrace that only seven cast pro-life votes against it — Kevin Byrne (Westchester/Putnam), Ron Castorina (Staten Island), Marcus Crespo (Bronx), Mike Cusick (Staten Island), Kieran Michael Lalor (Dutchess), Nicole Malliotakis (Staten Island) and Al Taylor (Manhattan). Kudos to them, and shame on their colleagues.

The Governor already displays an Ozymandias-like level of exaggerated self-esteem about his alleged accomplishments in office. He is in a tough primary race against a very liberal opponent, so it’s likely that he will push very hard for passage of the Reproductive Health Act to prove his “progressive” bona fides.

We can’t let that happen. We owe it to women, to unborn children yet conceived, and to all of our society to deny the Governor bragging rights for the passage of this horrendous and deadly bill.

Big Brother in Albany

Wednesday, February 7th, 2018

The public policy environment of New York State is almost invariably depressing. When you combine a corrupt dysfunctional State Legislature with an arrogant unaccountable Governor who rules as if endowed with the royal prerogative, there’s little reason for pride in the way the Empire State is led. In fact, it’s sometimes difficult to imagine how things could get any worse.

And then, earlier this week, the Governor veered frighteningly into the territory of the suppression of free thought and speech, and intolerance for religious freedom.

His press release trumpeted that the Governor had signed an Executive Order “banning all state agencies and authorities from doing business with companies that promote or tolerate discrimination” against “LGBTQ” people. At first glance, who could object to that? Discrimination is a bad thing, isn’t it? But read that statement again carefully. It doesn’t say “companies that discriminate”. It is aimed at companies that “promote or tolerate” discrimination. What in the world does that mean?

The answer can be found by reading further in the press release and the Executive Order. There it is made clear that the target of this new action is the very existence of religious agencies, and the intent is to suppress any deviation from the new orthodoxy of gender and sexual ideology. There we will find these nuggets (the original language is in italics and my comments are in regular text):

“Additionally, in October 2017, the federal government rescinded a contraceptive coverage mandate under the Affordable Care Act.” 

This is a reference to proposed new regulations that would finally end the interminable controversy over the HHS Mandate, which forced religious organizations to provide health insurance coverage for contraception and abortifacients. This was the mandate that caused the Little Sisters of the Poor and other Catholic institutions to fight for their rights all the way up to the Supreme Court.

This gives the game away right at the start. Those proposed regulations had nothing to do with discrimination laws or “LGBT” rights. They dealt solely with religious liberty and the HHS Mandate. By citing this completely irrelevant federal proposal, the press release inadvertently made clear that the Governor’s new order is rooted in animosity towards religious freedom.

“This action has permitted employers and organizations to claim broad exemptions from nondiscrimination laws, which has increased the vulnerability of LGBTQ rights.” 

This statement is absolutely false, misleading and incomprehensible. The Administration’s action on the HHS Mandate had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with anti-discrimination laws, and it had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with “LGBTQ” rights. It granted no exemptions of any kind whatsoever from non-discrimination laws, which the Executive Branch is not able to do anyway without an act of Congress. The idea that “LGBTQ rights” might be “vulnerable” (whatever that means) because of a decision relating to health insurance coverage of contraceptives is something that only an ideologue could believe.

This also gives the game away. This claim about exemptions from non-discrimination laws is the bogeyman raised by gay rights advocates to create a (non-existent but sympathetic) conflict between their interests and religious liberty. By parroting the advocates’ talking points, the Governor shows that the real intent of his Executive Order is to stigmatize religious freedom and threaten to penalize people for unacceptable thinking.

“With this executive order, New York reaffirms our commitment to protecting the rights of everyone.”

This is classic Orwellian doublethink — simultaneously believing in two utterly contradictory things. You cannot at the same time quash religious liberty and freedom of thought and still claim to be protecting the rights of everyone. This order is premised on the assumption that freedom is a zero-sum game with winners and losers — and the Governor has chosen which side he wants to win.

“Finally, the Governor announced that any school that refuses to protect transgender students will not receive state funding.”

Here is the unequivocal and direct attack on religious liberty. Note that the Governor’s order is aimed at “any school”, not just public schools. Catholic, Christian and Orthodox Jewish schools receive state funding for things like textbooks and computers as a matter of basic fairness to the parents of their students. They already protect all students from any kind of harassment or bullying or violence. But they do not and cannot recognize the idea of transgenderism, which is based on a false anthropology contrary to their religious beliefs. These faith communities continue to commit what contemporary sexual ideology considers to be an unforgivable heresy — namely, that God created every human person as male and female and that one’s “gender identity” must accept and conform to to the biological reality of male and female nature.

The amorphous language being used here — the vague undefined terms “protect”, “tolerate” and “promote” — shows that broad discretion is going to be given to unaccountable bureaucrats to police speech and thought as well as behavior. Who will decide what is sufficient to constitute “protection” and what standard will they use? Will it be enough to protect all students equally? Or will the state require Catholic, Christian and Jewish schools to violate their religious beliefs and treat some students in special ways that acknowledge the false notion of fluid gender identity? Does anyone trust this state government led by this Governor to act in a way that respects religious freedom as well as the rights to free speech, thought and association? Or are we witnessing the foundation of a Thought Police?

“Affected State Entities are hereby directed to amend their procurement procedures to prevent Affected State Entities from entering into contracts with entities that have institutional policies or practices that fail to address the harassment and discrimination of individuals on the basis of their gender identity, transgender status, gender dysphoria or any of the other protected classes enumerated above.”

This is the language of the Executive Order itself, and it carries much more weight than a press release. This is the directive that will be used by state agencies to come up with binding rules. If this language just spoke of banning companies that have been found guilty of actual acts of discrimination, then it would be one thing. Or if it dealt with government agencies subject to the Governor’s direct authority, that would make some sense.

But this Order is aimed at banning private companies “that have institutional policies or practices that fail to address” harassment and discrimination. This doesn’t seem to require proof of actual wrong-doing — that acts of discrimination have occurred or that the company failed to correct them. So how will we know if a policy “fails to address” discrimination? Who will decide that, and what standard will they use? Since our schools and institutions do not recognize the validity of transgenderism, are we per se guilty of this thoughtcrime because of our religious beliefs? Again, can we trust this state government led by this Governor to act in a way that respects religious freedom as well as the rights to free speech, thought and association?

To really capture the import of the Governor’s new policy, just consider his own words: “I can tell you that any school that refuses to protect transgender students will not receive a penny of state money and then they are out of business.” No subtlety to that threat. The only schools he could be talking about are religious ones, and everyone knows that means Catholic, Christian and Orthodox Jewish schools. The message is clear — conform or be destroyed.

Last year, the Supreme Court ruled in a case named Trinity Lutheran Church v. Missouri. It involved a religious school that was denied a government contract that was generally available to anyone else. The Court said,

The State has pursued its preferred policy to the point of expressly denying a qualified religious entity a public benefit solely because of its religious character. Under our precedents, that goes too far. The Department’s policy violates the Free Exercise Clause.

The Supreme Court saw clearly that our Constitution recognizes the fundamental human right to think and believe freely, and that government cannot penalize persons or organizations solely because of their religious beliefs. The Court rejected the fundamentally totalitarian idea that all private entities must be forced into harmony with the government’s ideology.

The Supreme Court sees what Big Brother in Albany does not. The future of freedom in our state is not looking good.

There are Never Enough Abortions for our State Leaders

Monday, January 23rd, 2017

Does anyone seriously think we need more abortions in New York, or that abortions are hard to get in our state? Apparently, our Governor and some leading Democratic legislators do. What can they possibly be thinking?

According to the most recent state statistics from 2014, there were 93,300 abortions in New York State. The Alan Guttmacher Institute, a well-known pro-abortion research group, puts the number highter, at 119,400. Thanks be to God, these number have been coming down in recent years, but regardless, it’s a mind-boggling number — in less than two years, the equivalent of the population of my home town, Yonkers, is exterminated.

There are few, if any, limits on access to abortion in New York. Women of every single county have abortions, and there are over 200 facilities where they take place, mostly stand-alone clinics. 79% of New York’s abortions are currently paid for by health insurance, 47% by Medicaid. In 52% of the abortions, the mother had at least one prior; in 15%, the mother had 3 or more priors;  in 4.3%, the mother had 5 or more priors. Nobody is having a hard time getting an abortion.

There is no evidence that wider access to abortion is necessary to preserve the health of women. The vast majority of abortions have nothing to do with health concerns. According to Guttmacher, “The three most common reasons — each cited by three-fourths of patients — were concern for or responsibility to other individuals; the inability to afford raising a child; and the belief that having a baby would interfere with work, school or the ability to care for dependents. Half said they did not want to be a single parent or were having problems with their husband or partner.” In other words, most abortions are taking place as a method of back-up contraception, and have nothing to do with the health of mothers.

So why are the Governor and legislators pushing for more abortions?

The Governor just announced a new set of regulations that would require every health insurance plan to cover “medically necessary” abortions, with no co-pays or deductibles. The term “medically necessary” isn’t defined in his rules, but pro-abortion advocates have typically used it to mean basically any abortion that a doctor either recommends or agrees to. In short, the Governor thinks that every woman in New York should be able to have an abortion for any reason whatsoever at any stage of pregnancy — for free. I’m sure the Governor understands economics, so I’m sure he understands very well that if you reduce the cost of something to zero, more people will avail themselves of it.

And take a look at the new bill that’s been introduced by Democrats in the Legislature (and that I would expect the Governor to sign into law, if it ever passes). This bill is really wicked. It would:

  • Permit non-doctors to do surgical abortions.
  • Increase the number of late-term abortions.
  • Endanger the few health and safety regulations that we currently have.
  • Compel hospitals and doctors to participate in abortions.
  • Eliminate any criminal penalties for back-alley abortions.

The worst part of this bill is so extreme that it boggles the mind. It would repeal a section of our Public Health Law (Section 4164, the “Baby Doe Law”) that gives full civil rights protection to any child who might be born alive as the result of an abortion. This law also requires a second doctor to be available during a late-term abortion — when the baby is likely to be able to live outside of the womb with basic medical care.

This evil bill would eliminate that law and treat those babies as non-persons — essentially saying, to paraphrase the infamous Dred Scott decision, that “a baby born alive after an abortion has no rights that born people are bound to respect”. Yet our Politburo-like Assembly passed the bill by a wide margin, and the only thing standing between it and the Governor’s pen is the slim pro-life majority in the Senate.

It is hard to conceive a reason to repeal these humane protections of basic human rights — unless you understand that the true motivation of pro-abortion advocates is to ensure the death of more “unwanted” babies.

This is what our state has come to. All the hooplah over marches for women and full civil rights for weak and vulnerable people is just a charade. The tragic reality is that powerful people in New York — particularly our Governor and Democratic legislative leaders — want to change the law so that there are more dead children, more damaged mothers and fathers, and an increase in the malign effects of the Culture of Death.

When will enough be enough?

The Radicalism of Roe v. Wade

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

During his tireless campaign to promote abortion here in New York, Governor Cuomo has repeatedly alleged that his Abortion Expansion Act would do nothing other than codify the law as established in Roe v. Wade in our state law.  Journalists and editorial boards have parroted this argument.

It’s essential that we grapple with this baseless claim, for several reasons.  One of the best ways to do so would be to pick up a copy of Clarke Forsythe’s new book, Abuse of Discretion.  In this very important work, Forsythe examines the shoddy, unprofessional way in which Justice Blackmun and his allies on the Supreme Court invented the holding in Roe without regard to basic principles of justice and fairness, and without any concern about the dangers to women that would come from legalizing abortion.

There are four important points that we should consider, so that we understand just how radical Roe really was, and thus how extreme the Governor’s proposal is.

First, we have to understand that the legal standard established in Roe was extremely liberal, and established a regime of abortion on demand, for all nine months of pregnancy, for any reason whatsoever.  Also, courts used it to strike down virtually every abortion regulation passed by state legislatures.

This can be seen clearly in the history of abortion decisions after Roe — virtually no regulations affecting abortion survived judicial scrutiny, including many common sense proposals like health and safety regulations and parental involvement laws. In essence, the entire abortion industry was exempted from any accountability or oversight.

Second, we also have to recognize that even the Supreme Court eventually backed away from the extremism of Roe, and eventually adopted a standard that permitted more leeway for states to regulate abortion. This led to the 1992 decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. In that case, the Court transformed the applicable legal standard in a way that made it possible for states to regulate abortion in more ways (e.g., by enacting bans of partial birth abortions, clinic health and safety regulations, etc.).

As a result, the governor’s proposal would actually enshrine the high-water mark of liberal abortion law, and ignore the subsequent legal developments that have pared that standard back towards a more reasonable system. It would lock in place an abortion law that is extremely permissive and hostile to any attempt to regulate or restrict the practice in any way.  It would create a system of abortion with impunity.

Third, we have to appreciate what a terrible piece of law Roe actually was — which speaks volumes about why we shouldn’t want anything to do with it here in New York.   I’m pretty cynical about what goes into judicial decisions, but even I was appalled at Forsythe’s account — backed by meticulous research — of the way that the Justices manipulated, schemed, and maneuvered in preparation for the Roe decision. They heedlessly took the case under false pretenses (supposing that it was to be decided on merely a procedural point of law), and disregarded the need for any facts about the nature and impact of abortion. They irresponsibly failed to consider the devastating impact their decision would have on public health as a result of invalidating every abortion law in the nation, and removing abortion from any possibility of further regulation.

Finally, and most importantly, Forsythe exposes, based on an astonishing number of scientific and medical studies, just how bad abortion on demand has been for women’s mental and physical health.   This includes short and long-term physical side effects and complications from the surgery, a correlation with a host of mental health problems, increased risks of breast cancer, plus the horrors that have occurred at unlicensed and unregulated clinics.  The simple fact is that abortion is not good for women.

This is the tragically misguided abortion regime that our Governor wishes to foist upon New York. I heartily recommend that people should read Clarke Forsythe’s excellent and important book, Abuse of Discretion, to understand just how radical, and how dangerous, that would be.

How the Abortion Expansion Act Would Let Non-Doctors Do Abortions

Thursday, December 4th, 2014

The debate continues over Governor Cuomo’s abortion expansion plan (currently packaged as the tenth point, “Part J”, of his Women’s Equality Act). The current trope being used by the WEA’s backers and abortion supporters is that in opposing the bill, we are not being truthful in saying that the bill would allow non-doctors to do abortions. Part of the way that they make this argument is to ask “show me where it says that in the bill”.

Permit me to do so, in four easy steps.

Step One — Current New York law permits only doctors to perform abortions (see Penal Law section 125.03(3)).

Step Two — The WEA states that:

No prosecution or proceeding shall be brought or maintained under the penal law or otherwise for acts that are authorized or permitted pursuant to this section or by this chapter and the education law (Part J, Section 1, emphasis added)

Step Three — Title 8 of the Education Law governs the practice of various health professions (e.g., doctors, nurses, physician assistants, midwives, etc.) health professionals. Under that law, the New York State Education Department has wide authority to define the “scope of practice” for professionals — in other words, what procedures they can perform within the law. As a result, the WEA would give the New York State Education Department Office of the Professions the authority to permit non-doctors to perform surgical and chemical abortions, simply by re-defining their “scope of practice”.

Step Four — Disregard everything I just said, and listen instead to the words of Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, the chairman of the Assembly Health Committee, one of the leading experts in health care law and policy in the Legislature, and a co-sponsor of the WEA. In a letter to constituents, Mr. Gottfried says:

The current New York law only allows a physician to perform an abortion. However, there are forms of abortion that are well within the ordinary scope of practice of physician assistants and nurse practitioners. Since, under Roe, abortion should be regulated on the same terms as other health care, the physician-only provision should be repealed and the ordinary rules of scope of practice should apply. The WEA language would do this. (emphasis added)

There it is, plain and simple.  So, the next time a newspaper editorial accuses us of lying, or a public official asks “where does it say that in the bill”, just hand them a copy of this blog post.  And then ask them, “do you really think it’s a good idea for non-doctors to be doing invasive, risky surgery on women?”

Truth and the Governor’s Abortion Expansion Plan

Friday, March 21st, 2014

Catholics from around New York State made the trek to Albany on March 19, to join in the “Catholics at the Capital Day”.   One of the major that we went there to discuss was Governor Cuomo’s abortion expansion plan, which is part of a bill with the name, “Women’s Equality Act”.

Many of the participants in the day, when speaking with their “pro-choice” legislators, were accused of lying about the contents of the WEA.  Unsurprisingly, these ill-informed solons were just repeating the propaganda talking points put forward by the pro-abortion lobbying groups.

So it’s worth taking a few minutes to review the truthfulness of the two essential arguments that we are making about this bill:

The WEA would expand abortion

It is true that the expressed purpose of the abortion provisions in the “Women’s Equality Act” is to “protect a woman’s right to obtain an abortion…  as established in Roe v. Wade”.  But this bald statement is used by pro-abortion advocates to claim that the bill does nothing more than to “codify existing law”.

In fact, the Governor’s proposal is much more radical, and would expand abortion rights far beyond current federal and state law.

The fundamental reason for this is that Roe v. Wade is no longer the controlling federal constitutional standard on abortion.  The legal standard established in Roe was very liberal, and courts used it to strike down virtually every abortion regulation passed by state legislatures.  But as time went along, the Supreme Court backed away from the extremism of Roe, and eventually adopted a standard that permitted more leeway for states to regulate abortion.  This led to the 1992 decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which purported to retain the “central holding” of Roe, but which actually transformed the applicable legal standard in a way that made it somewhat more possible for states to regulate abortion successfully.

So if the goal is really to “codify” current federal constitutional law on abortion, a reference to Roe is completely misplaced.  This proposal would actually codify the high-water mark of liberal abortion law, and ignore the subsequent legal developments that have pared that standard back.  It would lock in place an abortion law that is extremely permissive and hostile to any attempt to regulate or restrict the practice in any way.

In addition, the proposal not only ignores the current constitutional standard, it also ignores other important developments that have already been codified in federal  law — like the Hyde Amendment (restrictions on public funding), the partial birth abortion ban, the criminalization of violence against unborn children (Lacy and Conner’s Law), and more robust conscience protections (like the Church Amendment and the Hyde-Weldon Amendment).

In fact, by appealing to the very liberal legal standard of Roe, the legislation sends a signal to the courts that they should strike down any reasonable regulation of abortion — like restrictions on public funding, a partial birth abortion ban, the criminalization of violence against unborn children, and robust conscience protections for medical practitioners who don’t want to participate in abortion.  It would make it difficult, if not impossible, to enact bills that enjoy wide public support in our state and across the nation — like restrictions on late-term abortions, health and safety regulations on abortion clinic , parental notification requirements and full informed consent provisions.

So this proposal cherry-picks existing federal law, selecting only the liberalized pro-abortion elements that the advocates want, and rejecting the reasonable pro-life elements that they consistently oppose whenever they appear.

By any standard, that’s an expansion of abortion.

The WEA permits non-doctors to do late-term abortions

A second major argument that we offer is that the bill would allow non-doctors to do surgical abortions, even up until the moment of birth.

The bill accomplishes this by repealing the current requirement that only doctors can perform abortions (a provision found in the Penal Law).  Instead, it would grant the Health Department broad authority permit anyone — even non-health professionals — to do abortions.  It would immunize any non-doctor abortionist from any criminal prosecution, for practicing medicine without a license, or any kind of professional misconduct action.

In other words, the Governor’s law would permit abortion with impunity for anyone who has the approval of the Health Department — whose highest officials are, naturally, appointed by this ardently “pro-choice” Governor.

It actually gets worse.  The bill would permit abortion of any child who is not “viable” for any reason, at any time in the pregnancy.  But this key term is completely undefined in the bill — it would be left entirely in the discretion of the abortionist to determine if a child is “viable” or not, with no legal standard to go by and no requirement that any other person (much less a trained doctor) concur with that determination.

Think about that for a second.  This bill would allow non-doctors, people with far less training and experience than physicians, to make their own decisions about whether a baby could survive outside the womb, and then to perform surgery to kill that child — even up to the moment of birth.

By the way, this is not just us making this claim.  Pro-abortion supporters  conceded on the floor of the Legislature last June that the bill would allow non-doctors to do abortions, and at least one influential legislator is writing to constituents that it is a major goal of the bill.

So what’s the truth about the WEA?

We already have over 100,000 abortions in New York State.  The great majority of them are performed on women who have had at least one previous abortion.  More African-American babies in New York are aborted than are allowed to be born.   37% of pregnancies in New York City end in abortion.

That’s the truth.  That’s the tragedy of abortion in New York.  And we need more truth, less tragedy.

Who Are the Real Extremists?

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

The Governor of the State of New York has an unfortunate tendency to engage in absolutist, take-no-prisoners political rhetoric.  Just a few years ago, he declared that anyone who opposed redefining marriage was “anti-New York and anti-American”.   So it really should be no surprise when his rhetoric gets out of hand, and shows a lack of respect for those who take opposing positions in good faith.

Nevertheless, the remarks he made the other day are particularly disturbing.  Commenting on some internal disputes among his Republican rivals, the Governor of all New Yorkers (even those who disagree with him) said this:

“Who are they? Are they these extreme conservatives who are right-to-life, pro-assault-weapon, anti-gay? Is that who they are? Because if that’s who they are and they’re the extreme conservatives, they have no place in the state of New York, because that’s not who New Yorkers are.” (emphasis added)

I’m not a Republican, so it’s not for me to defend that party, or to get into the middle of an election-year political scrum.  But the Governor’s overheated language goes way beyond his political opponents.

Apparently our Governor thinks that there’s no place in our home state for anyone who believes that the laws should respect the right to life of all people, including the unborn, and who believe in the authentic definition of marriage.

But let’s ask ourselves — Who are the real extremists here?

It’s the public officials and the advocates who aren’t satisfied with New York being the abortion capital of America, a place with over 110,000 abortions each year.  It’s the people who oppose any reasonable regulations on abortion, including involving parents in decisions made by minors, full informed consent requirements, and so on.  It’s those  who want non-doctors to be able to perform abortions.  It’s the pro-abortion advocates who oppose health and safety regulations of clinics and who fight against any effort to inspect clinics.  It’s those people who want to redefine marriage and the family beyond recognition.   And it’s those who refuse to recognize faith-based objections, and slander those who stand on their faith for life and marriage.

This is not just a Catholic issue.  The Governor’s rhetoric encompasses the Catholic Church, but also the Orthodox Jewish community, the Evangelical Christian community, many mainline Protestant Churches and Muslims, and others of no religious faith at all.

It is deeply troubling when an elected official, who took an oath to uphold the Constitutions of our state and nation, casts out of polite society all those who disagree with him.  Remarks like these reflect not only a noxious political climate in our nation, but a deep-seated spiritual malady that St. Augustine called the libido dominandi, the lust to dominate and rule.

In an ironic way, it’s fortunate that the Governor made his unpleasant remarks in the midst of the U.S. Bishops’ “9 Days for Life” campaign of prayer, penance, and pilgrimage.  It’s a reminder that if we’re going to be “extremists” about anything, it should be in our prayer.  In particular, we can focus on the “9 Days for Life” prayer intention for tomorrow, the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision:

For an end to legal abortion in our nation and for the conversion of all hearts, so that the inherent rights of every human being—especially those most at risk of abuse and rejection—will be upheld.

Friday’s prayer intention is also particularly appropriate:

For elected leaders who oppose any restriction on the abortion license: may God allow them to grasp the brutal violence of abortion and the reality of post-abortion suffering experienced by countless women and men.

All of our society is enriched when people of faith bring their values into the public square, and nobody benefits when people are cast out of our political debate.  Let us pray for genuine tolerance, and for a conversion of heart so that our beloved state can show authentic respect for life and marriage.

[This blog post was reprinted in the New York Post as an op-ed]