Archive for the ‘Governor’ Category

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]

 

Truth, Lies, and the Power of Prayer

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

Last Friday, the Governor’s Abortion Expansion Act was defeated.  The final days of the legislative session were chaotic and hard to understand, and there were many behind-the-scenes maneuvers going on.  But in the end, the Assembly voted — to their shame — for more abortion in our state, but the Senate refused to go down that path.

It was a close call.  The change of only one vote in the Senate would have resulted in an expansion of late-term abortions, and permission for non-doctors to do abortions, among other things.  Don’t ever let anyone tell you that elections don’t matter.

There were several key lessons that were learned in the last few weeks of this long effort — remember, we have been working against this bill for over six years.

Lies Don’t Work — the Truth Will Come Out.

For months, the proponents of the bill were telling blatant falsehoods about what it was all about.  They claimed — inconsistently — that it was a “historic” measure that would ensure abortion rights, and also that it did nothing to change New York law.  They argued that it would not permit non-doctors to do abortions — although in the end, during the legislative debate, they finally admitted that it would.  And they said that it wouldn’t increase late-term abortions — although that was the only possible result of including a broad “health of the mother” justification for destroying viable unborn children.

These falsehoods were in the very heart of the Governor’s proposal, and they couldn’t be glossed over or ignored.  Eventually the strength of the truth carried the day, and the key Senators were persuaded to oppose the bill.

Abortion law in general is based on a great lie — that human life is disposable.  This bill built lie upon lie, and in the end couldn’t stand.

Prayer and Witness are Powerful

There were powerful and wealthy forces promoting the Governor’s “Women’s Equality Act” — of which the abortion plank played the central role.  The Governor himself is a potent political figure, and he had all his administration to rely on to promote the bill.  The press was, as usual, not with us.  Abortion advocacy groups were spending time, money and energy to push for the expansion of abortion.

Just to give you an idea of what we were up against, in May there were press reports that groups allied with the Governor were committing over $1,000,000 to run advertisements in favor of the agenda.  And that was only a small part of the money spent by abortion advocates.

On our side, we had a coalition of committed but cash-poor organizations.  But we had some things that our adversaries did not — the power of prayer and public witness.

So we concentrated on using inventive means of social networking, YouTube advertising, local prayer rallies, a candlelight vigil in Albany, Holy Hours, Rosaries.  In the last, critical week, hundreds of pro-lifers went to Albany to give public witness in the hallways of the Legislature, cheering on the lawmakers who were standing up for life.

We must never underestimate the power of prayer and public witness.  In any uphill struggle, we can always count on the power of God, and the impact of people who are willing to stand up and make their faith known.

Thanks be to God for the strength and support that He gave to us, and for the grace that He shone into the hearts of the legislators who stood with us.   May that grace also convert the hearts of those in the grips of the Culture of Death.

Remember, “If God is for us, who is against us?” (Romans 8:31)

The Spiritual Struggle

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

The legislative session in New York is winding down to its last chaotic week, and the fate of the Governor’s stealth abortion expansion bill is still undecided.  Today, pro-life people from around the state will be traveling to Albany for one final effort to oppose this evil bill.

At times like these, it is all too easy to think that the entire fight is about politics, and media, and activism.  But it’s not — a great spiritual celestial battle is taking place around and within us.

We see its signs everywhere — the addiction to lies to justify abortion,  hardening of human hearts towards vulnerable people, the building of structures of sin to protect abortion, desensitization to violence and evil, a growing commitment to consequentialism and utilitarianism, a spirit of division in communities and families, and hatred and intolerance, particularly towards God and people of faith.  All of these, of course, are the weapons and fruits of our Enemy, deployed in spiritual combat against us.

Perhaps more than anything else, we see the tragedy of the potential loss of souls.  This legislation is undoubtedly very important, but it pales in significance next to the possible loss of a even single human soul.  And that is always the highest goal of our Adversary.

At times like these, it is valuable to recall the words of St. Paul:

For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. (Eph. 6:12)

We who are in this struggle feel this acutely.  We are deeply troubled and saddened in heart by the sight of baptized Christians who openly support abortion, or even avidly advocate for it.  These are our brothers and sisters in Christ, yet they have accepted the Enemy’s lies and damaged their communion with Our Lord — hurting themselves, and hurting us as well.  As much as we seek to convince them of their mistakes, we must also dedicate ourselves to prayer and acts of reparation, offered up for their conversion and their reconciliation to the Body of Christ.

We also feel it in our own hearts, in our very common feelings of powerlessness and defeatism, and the frustration, anger and bitterness that go along with them.  We are ever mindful of our own sins, and we become burdened by our weakness and unworthiness.  These too are weapons of the Enemy, meant to discourage us — literally, to rob us of our courage.  Prayer and reparation are also called for, that we may receive the graces of fortitude and perseverance.

We also must remember that in this struggle, we have mighty allies who also strive endlessly against the Enemy.   We are always under the protective mantle of Our Blessed Mother, the Queen of Heaven.  We are united in prayer with the Church around the world and throughout time.  We are continually strengthened by Our Lord, particularly in the Sacraments.  And we fight alongside the angelic hosts and our patron saints — think of it, we bear arms alongside St. Michael, and we draw swords with St. Joan!

We are confident that the Spirit is with us, and will lift us up.  And at times like these, in the midst of this struggle, it is always worth calling to mind the words of our Lord:

In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)

Non-Doctors and the Abortionist’s Dream Act

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

For months, we have been predicting that the Governor’s abortion expansion proposal would permit non-doctors to perform abortions.  That was because the only bill that he would allow us to see was the Reproductive Health Act, which would have allowed any “licensed qualified health care practitioner” to terminate the life of an unborn child.

Now the Governor has finally released his actual bill, and I’ve taken to calling it the Stealth Abortion Expansion Act, because it does all the same terrible things as the former bill, but it does so in such subtle ways that at first blush  might seem insignificant, but which take on great meaning once properly understood.

A case in point is the way that the Governor’s bill would permit non-doctors to do surgical abortions, even late-term abortions up until the moment of birth.  It’s done by a combination of several key changes to current law they might easily be overlooked by the casual observer:

First, by repealing all of the current Penal Law provisions that permit criminal prosecutions of some abortions, if they are “inconsistent” with the rest of the bill.  Those sections of the law right now include a specific requirement that, to be lawful, an abortion must be performed by “a duly licensed physician” (Penal Law section 125.05(3)).  The Governor’s bill would erase that requirement from the law — again, to the extent that it is “inconsistent” with other parts of the bill.

Next, the bill is silent about who could do abortions.  It doesn’t even have the provision from the old Reproductive Health Act about a “licensed qualified health care practitioner”.  The only reference in the bill to a physician is to authorize an abortion at any stage in pregnancy if a doctor deems it necessary for her “health”.  But it doesn’t say anything about who would actually do the abortion.

This silence is very significant, when taken together with the following provision in the bill:

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” (emphasis added)

To understand the incredible breadth of this simple sentence, you have to know that the Health Department, acting under wide authority granted to it by the Education Law, can define the proper “scope of practice” for health professionals.  It can also enact wide-ranging regulations that govern surgical and medical activities.  Those determinations are not reviewable by courts, and do not have to be ratified by the Legislature.  The decision would be made by bureaucrats in Albany, accountable to nobody.  They wouldn’t even have to publish regulations for the public to see — they routinely make such decisions by private letter rulings given to interested parties.

As a result, this sweeping provision would give the Health Department the unlimited authority to permit anyone — even non-health professionals — to do abortions.  It would immunize any such non-doctor abortionist from any criminal prosecution under the old Penal Law sections (that would be “inconsistent” with this section of the bill) or for practicing medicine without a license, or any kind of civil proceeding (including an action for professional misconduct).   That means abortion with impunity for those favored by the Health Department.

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.

This is a stunning expansion of abortion.  And it is not an accident, given that the bill was written in collaboration with abortionists and their apologists.

I’ve been calling the Governor’s proposal the Stealth Abortion Expansion Act.

We should be calling it the Abortionist’s Dream Act.

The Real Law and the Abortion Expansion Bill

Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

The Governor has finally released his abortion proposal, as part of a “Women’s Equality Act”.   The Cardinal and his brother Bishops have issued a strong and clear statement on the bill.  The Bishops make clear that they are eager to support measures that would really enhance the lives of women in our state.  But they also make clear that the abortion component is totally unacceptable, and is, in effect, a stealth abortion expansion bill.

I urge everyone to read that statement, and then take action to oppose this proposal.  But there are a couple of things that I would like to add on my own behalf, because there are some inaccurate things being said by promoters of the bill — principally the allegation that it merely “codifies federal law” by enacting the standards set in the infamous Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade.

Actually, Roe v. Wade is no longer the controlling federal constitutional standard on abortion.  It’s important to understand a bit of the history here, to get why this matters so much.  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.  (Just to be clear, we would also oppose even a codification of the Casey standard, since that permits the unjust oppression of unborn children, particularly before viability.)

This is not just a lawyer’s quibble — it really matters in practice.  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).

So this proposal cherry-picks 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.

If the bill really doesn’t expand abortion rights, then what purpose does it serve, and why are the pro-abortion advocates so enthusiastic about it?  The fact is, this bill would permit abortion for any reason up to the moment of birth, it would allow non-doctors to do abortions, it could coerce cooperation with abortion by those with moral objections, and it would eliminate any chance of reasonable regulations of abortion.

This bill would give the pro-abortion advocates just about everything they’ve ever dreamed of — a more permissive environment for abortion, with virtually no legal limits.

Entering the Home Stretch on the Reproductive Health Act

Friday, May 3rd, 2013

The New York State Legislature is approaching the last six weeks of its session, and there are still some key things to be done to stop the Reproductive Health Act — the extreme Abortion Expansion Act.

Based on recent public statements, it appears that a stand-alone abortion expansion bill still lacks the votes needed for passage.  It’s very encouraging that the Senate Majority Leader, Dean Skelos, has repeatedly affirmed that he will not allow any kind of abortion bill to come to the floor of the Senate.  The Governor, however, is still seeking support for a bill and continues to insist that an abortion proposal will be included in an omnibus “women’s equality” bill — which would be extremely difficult to defeat.

So, we have to continue to stand together with our broad coalition of pro-life groups, “New Yorkers for Life”, and stress that while we support a real woman’s agenda, an expansion of abortion has no place in that.

Here are some practical things that can be done between now and the end of the legislative session in June:

  • Intensify our prayer efforts for conversion of heart of our public officials, and for courage in those who are opposing this bill.  It would be particularly important for specially-dedicated Holy Hours and Rosaries for this intention — this is the Month of Mary, and the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ is on June 2.
  • Public prayerful witnesses are also very important — like this recent one in the Bronx, or this one in Orange County.  Another prayerful witness is scheduled for May 29th in White Plains.
  • We need more organizations to sign onto the New Yorkers for Life Statement of Principles.  Please have your parishes, men’s or women’s groups, Knights of Columbus Councils — every organization you can think of — sign the statement.  This is very important — legislators are trying to get a sense of the depth of  feeling in their districts on this issue, and are paying attention to how many groups sign the statement.
  • Contact Majority Leader Skelos, to thank him for his strong public statements against the bill.  These messages can be sent through the Catholic Action Network.  By the way, just to give you an idea, almost 3,000 “thank you” emails have been sent to Sen. Skelos — just in the last few days.  Our voices are being heard!
  • Continue to contact our own elected officials, and write letters and op-eds for our local newspapers and other media outlets.  You can get information about local media outlets through the Catholic Action Network (click on “Media Guide”).
  • Keep people informed.  It’s vital that we counter the misleading statements by abortion activists about this proposal (e.g., that it would merely codify existing federal law and thus have no effect on the general availability of abortion).   There is a wealth of information on the websites of New Yorkers for Life, the New York State Catholic Conference, and this blog.
  • We are entering the home stretch for this legislative session.  This bill can be defeated.  Now is the time to renew our commitment to defend human life, and to call upon Almighty God for the grace we need to do His will.

    Philippians 4:13 says it all — “I can do all things in him who strengthens me.”

    What Stands Between Us and Gosnell?

    Monday, April 29th, 2013

    You can’t expect the Times to cover abortion stories fairly, but it shouldn’t be too much to ask them to read legislation and report it correctly.  Once again, though, they fail even that basic test of journalism.

    To their credit, the Times reported today on Live Action’s latest video expose of the ugly practices of an abortion clinic in the Bronx.  And ugly it was — callous, heartless, and openly admitting that they murder live-born babies.  But of course, that’s what abortion is, all the time, every day.  It’s remarkable that the Times has finally taken some small notice of that fact.

    Unfortunately, the Times then went on to give a distorted and bizarre description of the Reproductive Health Act, the bill being pressed by the Governor and the abortion industry here in New York.  The Governor has been keeping the details of his bill under wraps, but there is an actual bill already in the Legislature, and no matter which one finally moves forward, this description by the Times is far off the mark:

    “Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, a Democrat, has thrown his support behind legislation that will guarantee a woman’s right to an abortion after 24 weeks of pregnancy, if her health is in danger or if the fetus is not viable. The current law permits abortion after 24 weeks only if a woman’s life is in danger, although it is not enforced because federal court rulings have allowed less restrictive late-term abortions.”

    That would imply that RHA is only going to make minor adjustments to current New York law, to bring it into line with Supreme Court precedents.  But RHA goes far beyond that.  It would revolutionize our law, establishing abortion as a pre-eminent right that will be virtually immune from regulation, and enshrining New York as a wide-open territory for the abortion industry to do whatever it wants. It could be called the “Welcome Kermit Gosnell Act”.

    RHA would define abortion as unqualified “fundamental right”, placing it on the same legal plane as the right to vote or political speech.  It would require that all regulations of abortion stand up to the highest standard of review by courts (“compelling state interest/strict scrutiny”).  This means that all the reasonable regulations of abortion we see in other states — parental involvement in abortion decisions by minors, full informed consent (including sonograms), limits on late-term abortions, bans on sex-selection abortions, etc. — would be virtually impossible in New York.

    It would also make abortion even more unsafe than it already is.  Currently, New York law permits only doctors to perform abortions.  RHA would instead permit abortions to be done by any “qualified, licensed health care practitioner acting within the scope of his or her practice”.  This term isn’t defined in the RHA, but it could include any health worker that the New York State Health Department feels like certifying, without any further consultation with the Legislature or the people of our state.  In other words, if the abortion industry wants to have invasive surgery done by non-doctors, then RHA is the perfect bill for them — regardless of the health risks to women.

    Current New York law also requires late-term abortions to be done only in hospitals.  This is a common-sense safety requirement, since late-term abortions are inherently more risky for the mother.  It’s also necessary to give a baby born alive after an abortion medical assistance to sustain her life — which is already required in a provision of New York law that is obviously being flouted in that Bronx clinic, and, most likely, in others as well.

    RHA would eliminate this hospital requirement and allow post-viability abortions to be performed on an outpatient basis in storefront offices that lack the resources to address any threats to the woman’s life, and the specialized medical staff and equipment to provide life support to any baby who survives the abortion.  It would also re-define “viability” in a way that would eviscerate the current legal protection for born-alive babies — leaving it entirely up to the discretion of the abortionist whether to provide any care.  Anyone who watches the Live Action video, or who has followed the Gosnell trial, knows that this leads directly to infanticide.

    Here’s what’s most frightening about RHA.  New York already has a “wild west” atmosphere when it comes to abortion.  But this bill sends a signal to the New York abortion industry that they are a special, protected class, and that they don’t have to worry about oversight, or scrutiny, or consequences.

    Nobody can name a single abortion clinic in New York that has been closed or cited for health violations in years.  Freedom of Information requests have been made to state and city governments asking for information about inspections, but there has been no answer.  So, we have a city that spends millions inspecting restaurants and sellers of large carbonated beverages, but can’t seem to find any abortion clinics to inspect.

    If that’s not chilling enough, consider this. At a public hearing a few years ago, Christine Quinn, who is the Speaker of the City Council and front-runner for mayor, lauded a witness as a “hero” for all that she did for “women’s health” and “reproductive rights”.  That witness was the medical director at the “Dr. Emily” clinic visited by Live Action.  Just think about that — a late-term abortionist who is a “hero” to our most powerful politicians, and whose ordinary practice, according to her staff, is to kill live-born infants.

    The Grand Jury in the Gosnell case pointed out that a “pro-choice” political atmosphere in Pennsylvania discouraged regulation and oversight of the abortion industry, allowing that clinic to do its business for years under the radar.  Passing RHA in New York will only encourage even more of that kind of laissez-faire attitude in New York.

    No matter how the Times tries to downplay it, if RHA is passed, there is nothing that stands between New York and Kermit Gosnell — or those like him, who are already here, operating in secret.