Archive for the ‘Governor’ Category

What About the Other Women?

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013

In support of the radical abortion expansion bill, the “Reproductive Health Act”, advocates have been arguing that the bill would make no changes in current New York law. Instead, they argue that it’s an integral part of a “women’s equality agenda”.

We certainly support most, if not all, of the items on the Governor’s “women’s equality” agenda. But the thing is, we’re looking at making things better for all women — and making sure the law protects all women.

Unfortunately, the supporters of the RHA are leaving a lot of women out of the “women’s equality” agenda — the unborn ones.

Current New York law recognizes society’s strong and legitimate interest in protecting unborn women. It criminalizes a direct attack on an unborn child, outside of the context of a lawful abortion — like domestic violence incidents where the assailant is trying to cause a miscarriage. And even in the case of abortion, it recognizes that unborn children are worthy of some protections, such as our statute requiring that abortions be performed only by doctors, and regulations of abortion clinic practice.

That’s because the vast majority of New Yorkers, as revealed in a recent poll, understand that unborn human life is not a mere afterthought.

But the Reproductive Health Act would largely strip these protections from the law, and leave unborn children — including the women — vulnerable to domestic violence and unregulated abortion practices. The requirement that only doctors perform abortions would be eliminated, and the standard of review for abortion regulations would be raised so high that virtually nothing would pass scrutiny.  Even a ban on sex selection abortions — which deliberately target women — would almost certainly fail to satisfy the standards required by RHA.

What’s ironic is that in the 2011 State of the State Address, when speaking of future state workers, the Governor referred to them as “the unborn”. He knows what he’s talking about. And so do we.

Too bad that, in pursuit of legitimate legislative measures in support of some women, the advocates for the Reproductive Health Act are all too willing to disregard the women in the womb.

New Yorkers Speak Loud and Clear: No Abortion Expansion

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

In our efforts to oppose the Reproductive Health Act, we’ve been stressing over and over again that we already have too many abortions in New York, and that New Yorkers don’t support an expansion of abortion in our state.  A new poll not only confirms this point, but puts an exclamation mark on it.

Sponsored by the Chiaroscuro Foundation, the poll surveyed likely New York voters.  Although a majority (55%) described themselves as “pro-choice”, 66% thought that there was no need to expand access to abortion — and this number grew to 79% when they were told that we already have over 111,000 abortions in our state each year.

Only 17% approve of unlimited abortion on demand through the ninth month of pregnancy (which is the current law, thanks to the Supreme Court, and which would be confirmed by the Reproductive Health Act.); 80% disapprove of such a policy, 61% strongly.

A large majority of New Yorkers oppose the following, which would be permissible under the Reproductive Health Act:

  • 92% oppose abortion for selecting the sex of a baby;
  • 89% oppose abortion for reducing triplets or twins to a single child;
  • 75% oppose allowing non-doctors to perform abortions; and
  • 71% oppose forcing Catholic hospitals to allow abortions.
  • Large majorities also support the following reasonable regulations of abortion, all of which would be impermissible under the Reproductive Health Act:

  • 87% support providing information about options and risks to pregnant women before they make an abortion decision;
  • 78% approve of a 24-hour waiting period prior to an abortion; and
  • 76% approve of parental notification for minors’ abortions.
  • Kathy Gallagher, the director of pro-life activities for the New York State Catholic Conference, summed it up best:

    “These poll results should send a strong message to government officials: New Yorkers, even those who self-identify as ‘pro-choice,’ don’t want more abortion in the state.  The public desires prudent and reasonable regulations on the abortion procedure. New Yorkers want abortion to be truly rare. Politicians promoting the radical agenda of groups like Planned Parenthood and Naral are out of step with everyday New Yorkers, be they Republican or Democrat.”

    All Catholics — indeed, all people who believe that enough is enough –  should send a message to their government officials  that they oppose the Reproductive Health Act.

     

    Time for a Real Women’s Agenda

    Monday, February 11th, 2013

    I’ve already written a great deal about the Reproductive Health Act (see here, here and here), which has been proposed by the Governor as part of his “Women’s Equality Act”.

    One thing that has unfortunately been lost in the debate over this abortion expansion bill is that many of the other parts of the Governor’s agenda are things that most New Yorkers — including the Church — would like to support.  Things like ensuring equal pay for equal work; expanding the ability to enforce laws against sexual harassment; strengthening laws against discrimination in employment and lending (particularly against pregnant women); strengthening and enforcing current laws against sex trafficking.

    But by including the Reproductive Health Act in in the bill, the passage of other good women’s initiatives is being unnecessarily jeopardized.  We would like to see abortion taken off the table, so that the welfare of women can be addressed and promoted in a way that generates real consensus across the state.

    The Church, and other pro-life people who work at places like pregnancy services centers,  have a great deal of experience working with vulnerable women, especially those who are struggling with a crisis pregnancy.  Based on this experience, we could propose some other items to include in a real women’s agenda.  These proposals would not endanger the lives of unborn women and leave their mothers with the emotional scars of abortion.  Instead, they would enhance the welfare of the women of our state, particularly by giving encouragement and support to make the life-affirming decision to carry their babies to birth:

  • Promoting adoption by mandating parental leave equal to that provided to birth parents, and providing tax deductions or tax credits to those who adopt. A public relations campaign to encourage adoption, particularly of children with special needs and those in foster care, would also be good.
  • Providing funding for alternatives to abortion, particularly for low-income women.  For years, the government-funded Maternity & Early Childhood Foundation has been doing that on a shoestring, and the Governor’s proposed budget would eliminate all funding for this Foundation.
  • Ensuring that women have all the relevant information before making an abortion decision — bills like the “Woman’s Right to Know Act” or a bill requiring a sonogram — and a waiting period to ensure that there’s enough time to reflect.
  • Prohibiting abortion for sex selection.  This practice particularly targets female children, and is the ultimate form of discrimination against women.
  • Strengthening and enforcing New York’s anti-obscenity laws. Women are the primary victims of pornography — they are objectified and demeaned by it, and many of the women in porn are coerced or raped.
  • Helping victims of domestic violence, by giving them unpaid leave of absence from jobs, ending housing discrimination, and strengthen orders of protection.
  • Passing an unborn victims of violence act, which would permit prosecution of domestic violence criminals who target children in the womb.
  • The Governor has some good ideas for woman that shouldn’t be held back by an abortion bill that goes too far and is out of step with what New Yorkers want.  Taking the Reproductive Health Act off the table would allow people of all beliefs to unite behind a real agenda for women.

    The Reproductive Health Act and Criminal Law

    Thursday, February 7th, 2013

    As part of our efforts to educate people about the Reproductive Health Act, we have been pointing out that the bill would remove any criminal penalties for a violent attack on an unborn child.  The bill’s supporters have been countering by saying that there would still be sufficient criminal sanctions available, if RHA is passed.

    Here’s why they’re reading the law wrong.

    Current New York law criminalizes a direct attack on an unborn child outside of the context of a doctor performing an abortion with the mother’s consent.  If the unborn child is over 24 weeks of gestation, this crime would be a felony punishable by up to seven years in prison; before that, it’s a felony punishable by up to four years in jail.

    Without these criminal abortion laws, there is no way to bring a prosecution for a direct attack on an unborn child.  The reason is that New York has a “born alive” rule, under which you can only be a victim of a crime — a “person” under the law — if you are born alive.  Before that, you aren’t a “person”.  Yes, it seems absurd, but that’s been the law for many years.

    If you want a more detailed legal explanation for how this plays out, here it is — if you don’t, you can skip the next paragraph.

    The basic problem stems from the nature of the assault and homicide statutes, and the required intent elements that must be proved, when taken together with the “born alive” rule.  The assault and homicide laws are “specific intent” laws — the prosecution must prove that the assailant had “intent to cause serious physical injury to another person”.  Since an unborn child is not a “person” within the meaning of the law, no assault that is intended to harm that child can be the basis of a prosecution.  Nor can the doctrine of “transferred intent” lead to a prosecution.  That principle holds that if a person intends to assault one victim, but harms another, they are liable for injuries to the second victim.  But the assault and homicide statutes specify that the injury must be caused to the intended victim “or to a third person”. Again, since an unborn child is not a “person”, the injury to the child cannot be the basis of a criminal charge under the theory of transferred intent.  Of course, there is always the possibility of bringing charges for any injuries caused to the mother — but those are separate and distinct from the offenses directed against the unborn child, which can only be brought under the criminal abortion statutes.

    The criminal abortion statutes are reasonable and necessary, and have a long history in our law.  By having this provision, New York law shows that it has a legitimate interest in protecting unborn life, which it will defend in criminal court.  This interest has been repeatedly recognized and upheld by the Supreme Court — even in the original Roe v. Wade case that legalized abortion.

    These laws are especially important because deliberate attacks on an unborn child are frequently part of a domestic violence incident.  And, not every attack on the unborn child causes some kind of physical harm to the mother.  For example, an involuntary dose of RU-486 or emergency contraception might only cause harm to the unborn child, not to the mother, and thus could not be prosecuted at all if RHA is enacted.  Think of it — a man could slip a woman a dose of EC with the intent to kill their unborn child, yet he could completely escape prosecution.

    The result of all of this is clear — without the criminal abortion statutes (which would be repealed by RHA), an assault on an unborn child cannot be the basis of a criminal charge unless there is an independent injury to the mother.  And even then, the only victim whose rights would be defended would be the mother — the child would be merely a piece of evidence at trial, not a human being who had been victimized.

    The proper way to address this flaw in the current law is not to remove the abortion provisions from the Penal Law, as RHA would.  Instead, the Legislature should enact an Unborn Victims of Violence Act, which would provide criminal penalties for assaults upon unborn children, regardless of the impact on the mother.  Thirty-six states and the federal government have these laws, and they have been upheld in the courts. The RHA may well prevent that law from ever being passed in New York State.

    The broader issue at stake here is the legal theory embodied in RHA — it treats the life and well-being of the unborn child as irrelevant, and asserts that the state is only concerned with maternal health.  This would completely abdicate the state’s legitimate interest in protecting unborn life — which has even been recognized by the Supreme Court.

    The RHA is focused solely on the mother and on ensuring her unlimited access to abortion.  The unborn child would have no legal rights, and no defense from assault, under RHA.

    Real Facts About the Governor’s Abortion Expansion Bill

    Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

    In support of Governor Cuomo’s abortion expansion plan, known as the “Reproductive Health Act”, his spokesman recently said:

    “State law needs to be updated so that it is consistent with federal standards and once and for all makes a woman’s right to choose unassailable in New York state… This is not an expansion of abortion rights. It’s a codification of existing federal law. Any suggestion to the contrary is not only baseless, but a distortion of the facts.”

    Perhaps the Governor’s staff needs to do a little legal research before they accuse people of lying about what federal law of abortion actually is.  Perhaps then they will understand how extreme the Governor’s Reproductive Health Act is.

    Unlike the Governor’s bill, federal law does not consider the right to abortion an unqualified “fundamental right”, on the same legal plane as the right to vote or political speech.  Nor does federal law maintain that all regulations of abortion must stand up to the highest standard of review by courts (“compelling state interest/strict scrutiny”).  No federal law has ever given permission to non-doctors to perform abortions.  No federal law outlaws “discrimination” against abortion in the granting of state licenses, provision of services, etc.  No federal law has virtually eliminated basic criminal penalties for involuntary or back-alley abortions.

    Yet the Governor’s bill does all that, and more.

    If the Governor really wants to codify federal law, perhaps he’ll agree to passing a partial birth abortion ban?  Or an unborn victims of violence ban, protecting unborn children from criminal assaults?   Or a restriction on taxpayer funding so that abortion on demand is not being subsidized?  Or an expansion of conscience protection for health professionals who do not wish to participate in abortions, based on their religious or moral beliefs?

    All of those provisions are current federal law.  All of those offer a higher level of protection for unborn children, compared to current New York law.  All of those, and more, have been enacted by other states, and are supported by wide majorities of Americans — laws requiring parental involvement in abortion decisions by minors, providing support for pregnancy alternatives comparable to that given to abortion clinics, requiring full informed consent (including sonograms) before an abortion, limits on late-term abortions of fully-developed children, bans on sex-selection abortions, etc.

    The fact is that all of these reasonable regulations of abortion would be impossible under the Governor’s abortion expansion plan.

    The fact is that the Governor’s plan goes far beyond federal law, far beyond common sense, and far beyond what New Yorkers want and need.

    Top Ten Reasons to Oppose the Governor’s Radical Abortion Plan

    Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

    Now it appears that our pro-abortion Governor will be bundling the so-called “Reproductive Health Act” with a number of other “women’s initiatives”, to create an omnibus bill that offers something to everyone. Of course, most of the bill is mere window-dressing for his plan to remove all limits on abortion, and reinforce New York’s lamentable status as the state with the most expansive abortion laws.

    The New York State Catholic Conference has put out the Top Ten Reasons to oppose this radical bill.  here they are:

    10. It moves New York State in the opposite direction of “safe, legal and rare.”
    9.  It would undermine beneficial maternity and prenatal care programs, which could be deemed “discriminatory” for favoring childbirth over abortion.
    8.  It could be used to compel Catholic Charities and Catholic schools to counsel and refer for abortion.
    7.  It could be used to compel all hospitals, even Catholic hospitals, to allow abortions on premises.
    6.  It makes abortion immune to prudent regulations supported by large majorities of the public: parental notification for minors’ abortions, restrictions on taxpayer funding, informed consent or a waiting period for pregnant women.
    5.   By inserting a broad “health” exception into our law, it opens up third-trimester abortions for any reason at all, leading to more late-term abortions of viable, fully formed infants.
    4.   By repealing the requirement in current law that only a licensed physician may perform an abortion, it endangers women’s lives.
    3.   By tying the abortion expansion plan to helping victims of domestic violence and ending pregnancy discrimination in the workplace, these important objectives are held hostage to an illogical and ideological agenda.
    2.   It will not foster women’s health or dignity or promote women’s equality.
    1.   It defies common sense because New York is already the abortion capital of the nation, with 33% of pregnancies ending in abortion, over 40% in New York City.

    All the state-wide pro-life groups have joined in a new coalition to defeat the bill.  We’ve taken the name “New Yorkers for Life”, and have started up a Facebook page and Twitter account.  We would like to use these as rally points for pro-lifers, to express their opposition to the bill and to get more information.  Please spread the word to everyone you know, encourage people to “Like” the page on Facebook, and share it with their friends and contacts, and to “Follow” it on Twitter.

    The New York State Catholic Conference has put up an alert on the bill.  Please let others know about this, and urge them to contact their legislators and the Governor.

    We already have too many abortions in New York.  Enough is enough.

    How Many Abortions are Enough for Governor Cuomo?

    Saturday, January 12th, 2013

    111,212

    77,327

    41%

    Those are, in order: the number of abortions that took place in 2010 in New York State, abortions specifically in New York City, and the percentage of pregnancies in the City that end in abortion.  Stated in such bald terms, they are appalling, and each one of them represents a tragedy to mothers, fathers, and the unborn children.

    We want the number to be zero, of course, but you would think that even for a “pro-choice” politician with any sense of balance and sanity, those numbers would be too high.

    Apparently not for for our ideologically committed and politically ambitious Governor Andrew Cuomo.    He appears to be fine with even more abortions.

    In his State of the State speech last week, the Governor literally shouted his support for a woman’s “right to choose”, and called for the passage of a bill named the “Reproductive Health Act”.  The better name for the bill is the “Unlimited Abortion Act”, because it would remove any limitations on abortion, and prevent any further limitations.

    This bill has nothing whatsoever to do with reproductive health.  It is an extremist bill that would:

  • Establish the destruction of unborn human beings as a “fundamental right”;
  • Make it impossible to pass common-sense regulations, like parental notification laws;
  • Permit non-doctors to perform abortions;
  • Undermine or eliminate the conscience protections in law that protect religious liberties, under the guise of eliminating “discrimination” against the newly-recognized “fundamental right”;
  • Require Church-owned hospitals, social service agencies, and schools to promote, perform, or refer for abortions;
  • Force our schools to help pregnant girls to get an abortion, or risk being sued for “discrimination”;
  • Endanger the licenses of doctors, nurses, and other professionals if they don’t promote, perform or refer for abortions.
  • People need to let their elected officials know that we don’t want any more abortions in New York.  There are too many already.  An easy way to contact your representatives is through the New York State Catholic Conference’s Catholic Action Network.

    Pro-abortion politicians used to posture that they wanted abortion to be “safe, legal, and rare”.  But our Governor doesn’t even pretend to care any longer about how rare abortion should be.  He doesn’t seem to want any limits on it — even laws that have been proven in other states to reduce the number of abortions and that are supported by wide majorities.

    How many abortions are enough for our extremist pro-abortion Governor?   To even have to ask such a question is the essence of the modern tragedy of the Culture of Death.

    We are Now Enemies of the State

    Friday, October 21st, 2011

    I have been warning for some time about the intolerance that we are likely to face from the forces of “tolerance” who backed the bill legalizing same-sex “marriage” here in New York.

    The other day, the impending persecution became even clearer, as Governor Cuomo, the highest public official of New York State, declared us to be enemies of the state and nation.

    He was speaking to a group of “gay rights” advocates about the process that led to the passage of the so-called “Marriage Equality Act”.  He was remarkably candid about that process, including interesting remarks about the power of money in buying votes, and the behind-the-scenes negotiations for votes.  (By the way, this account of the event comes from the “Gay City News” — I refuse to link to such a source, so you’ll have to take my word for it).

    When asked if he found persuasive any arguments offered by the opposition to re-defining marriage, this is what the Governor of all New Yorkers said:

    “There is no answer from the opposition. There really isn’t. Ultimately, it’s, ‘I want to discriminate.’ And that’s anti-New York. It’s anti-American.”

    Savor that quotation for a moment, and drink in the depth of its arrogance, contempt, and hostility.

    No answer by defenders of marriage?

  • Not the thorough and comprehensive philosophical arguments rooted in natural law, offered by Sherif Girgis, Robert George and their colleagues?
  • Not the repeated statements of the United States Bishops and the New York State Bishops?
  • Not the arguments offered by the public in the 41 states that have rejected the re-definition of marriage?
  • Not the arguments that were deemed persuasive by 85 Senators, 342 Representatives, and President Clinton when the Defense of Marriage Act was passed in 1996?
  • Not the arguments offered by Mr. Cuomo’s predecessor as state Attorney General, Eliot Spitzer, that were found persuasive by our Court of Appeals in the case upholding the real definition of marriage?
  • Not the arguments we were giving legislators in the hallways of the State Capitol and their home offices, for weeks prior to the vote?
  • In reality, Mr. Cuomo doesn’t just disagree with our arguments, he denies their existence.  He clearly believes that they are pernicious, beyond the pale of proper discourse, and motivated only by hatred.

    That is why he has now declared that we are “anti-American” — that is to say, enemies of our nation.

    Those of us who have memories of American history are deeply angered and disturbed by such rhetoric.  We recall a time when Catholics (and the Irish in particular) were deemed to be a threat to America, and were openly persecuted. We thought that we were past those days, but obviously they are returning.

    And remember, the Governor’s thuggish remarks don’t just target 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 who all believe in the authentic, traditional meaning of marriage.

    It is a chilling moment when the top elected official of our state — a man who took an oath to uphold the Constitutions of our state and nation — has declared that so many people are political pariahs.  When he calls us enemies of the state.

    This is legitimately frightening.  We all know what the power of the state can do to its enemies.

    Once More Unto the Breach

    Sunday, April 3rd, 2011

    The Governor of New York State has let it be known that he will soon begin to demolish the foundation of society.

    Of course, he didn’t put it quite that way.  Instead, he promised to push for the passage of the so-called “Marriage Equality Act”, which would re-define marriage, which is the fundamental support of a healthy society.  The Governor is apparently not satisfied with the authentic meaning of marriage — a union of one man and one woman dedicated to the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of children.  Instead, he wants to change it to mean something that it cannot — a union between persons of the same sex.

    Several times in recent years, the State Assembly has passed the bill to re-define marriage, but it has only come up for a vote once in the Senate, where it was defeated in 2009.  But it has risen again, and it appears that the Governor will put some of his considerable political muscle behind it.

    This, in a state where there is a marriage and family crisis — where 41% of births are out-of-wedlock, only 66% of households with children are headed by a married couple, and there are over 50,000 divorces in families with children under 18.  Now is hardly the time to re-define marriage, leaving people with the impression that it is all about adult satisfaction and not about children, and that children don’t need both a mother and a father who are in a stable, life-long relationship.

    For more information about this critical issue, and how you can take action, visit the webpage of the Family Life/Respect Life Office.  There you can find resources to get the pro-marriage message into our parishes and communities, and to answer some of the common misconceptions about this issue.

    Ultimately, we need to make clear that this is not about “equal rights” or “discrimination”. Same sex couples have the right to live as they wish, but nobody has the right to re-define marriage for all of society.  Please take action today to defend marriage.

    Varia

    Sunday, February 20th, 2011

    The following are some of the highlights from the daily email briefing about news and events, which I send out to some of my friends and contacts (if you’re interested in subscribing to the daily mailing, leave your email address in the comments box):

  • Robert George weighs in on the Live Action debate.
  • Philosopher Christopher Tollefsen responds to those who disagreed with his moral critique of Live Action’s tactics.  Other response here and herePeter Kreeft defends Live Action,  as does Hadley Arkes.
  • As a charter member of the Kathryn Jean Lopez Fan Club, I give you three of her pieces: on the power of pro-life witness, the suffering of women, and the culture of death; an interview with Maggie Gallagher on the current status of the defense of marriage; and an interview of Brad Wilcox on the overall health  of marriage.
  • The forces of “tolerance” refuse to brook any dissent.  Now the “gay rights” crowd is going after the iPhone app that helps people prepare for Confession, because it has the audacity to state that homosexual acts are sinful.  Note the chilling term they use — “anti-gay spiritual abuse”.  In 1984, Orwell used the term “thoughtcrime”.
  • An amendment to the federal budget will cut funding from abortionists.  Also, the Protect Life Act, which will remove abortion funding from the health care law, has been approved by committee and sent to the full House for consideration.  The Democrats in Congress, however, continue to rally behind Planned Parenthood and resist measures to defund them.
  • A positive initiative in Kansas to support pregnant women.  Here in New York, of course, our Governor cut all funding for the pro-life Maternity and Early Childhood Foundation, while continuing unlimited Medicaid funding for abortion and tons of money for Planned Parenthood.  Red states, blue states.
  • Wesley Smith explains how to fight against the evil thoughts of Peter Singer, the Princeton philosopher who justifies infanticide.  Smith warns that we must oppose this now, lest infanticide become as accepted as abortion is now.
  • Why is our government funding an international program that is making it easier to carry on the exploitation of “sex workers”, including minors?
  • The Brave New World, Northern Chapter — a Canadian court will permit doctors to remove life support from a gravely ill baby, against her parent’s wishes; the court rejected the parents’ request to bring her home so she can die among her family.
  • The fight to keep Ireland pro-life continues.
  • (Please note that these links will take you to websites that are not affiliated with the Archdiocese.  We neither take responsibility for nor endorse the contents of the websites.)