Archive for the ‘Legislation’ Category

New York’s Death March

Friday, April 12th, 2019

In the past few months, the Governor of New York State has been leading our state ever more deeper into the Culture of Death. It began, of course, with the passage of the radical abortion expansion law in January, which legalized abortion for any reason throughout pregnancy and removed any legal protection for babies born alive accidentally during the course of a late-term abortion.

Now, the Governor has announced that he believes that physician-assisted suicide should be legalized. On the radio, he said “I say pass the bill. It’s a controversial issue. It’s a difficult issue. But it would need legislation. … I think it is a situation we have to address, definitely.”

Back in 1994, the Task Force on Life and the Law, appointed by the Governor’s father, evaluated and rejected the idea of legalizing assisted suicide. Among the reasons they gave were some prophetic warnings about the dangers to the most vulnerable among us:

“In light of the pervasive failure of our health care system to treat pain and diagnose and treat depression, legalizing assisted suicide and euthanasia would be profoundly dangerous for many individuals who are ill and vulnerable.  The risks would be most severe for those who are elderly, poor, socially disadvantaged, or without access to good medical care….

“No matter how carefully any guidelines are framed, assisted suicide and euthanasia will be practiced through the prism of social inequality and bias that characterizes the delivery of services in all segments of our society, including health care.  The practices will pose the greatest risks to those who are poor, elderly, members of a minority group, or without access to good medical care.”

These structural problems in the American medical system have certainly not been corrected in the years since the Task Force’s report.  Studies consistently show that disparities exist in access to and quality of healthcare across numerous demographic categories, particularly race, sex, socioeconomic status, and geographic location. These inequities are exacerbated by the economic pressures of the current medical system, where cost containment is a priority.

The people who will be at the greatest risk will be isolated elderly people, people with disabilities, and those with mental illness. In fact, the strongest opponents of legalizing assisted suicide come from the disability community, who see clearly that it would stigmatize them, send a message that their lives are not worth living, and result in pressure for them to take their lives. We should listen to their voices – just visit the website of the group Not Dead Yet and you will hear them loud and clear. They rightly fear that they will be the “collateral damage” of the legalization of assisted death.

We also need to pay attention to what is happening right next door to us, in Canada, where assisted suicide and euthanasia have already been legalized. Here are a few of the most recently-reported examples:

  • In Canada, there was an overall 50% increase in assisted deaths in 2018, with 1.5% of all deaths coming in that way.
  • In Ontario, the number of euthanasia deaths have skyrocketed even more, increasing by 78% in 2018 and 50% in 2017.
  • Canada has seen widespread violation of supposed safeguards, including unreported assisted deaths, killing of people who did not satisfy legal standards for euthanasia, etc. This is similar to the experience in Holland and Belgium, where there have been rampant violations of safeguards and no enforcement actions.
  • In a great majority of cases in Ontario, the assisted death was done by a doctor who had no prior relationship with the patient.

And we need to listen to the advocates for legalization, to see how radical their positions really are.

  • A proposed bill in Delaware was actually opposed by pro-assisted suicide advocates because it had too many patient protections in it. Those unacceptable provisions included the patient being 21 years old, having the terminal diagnosis be confirmed by a completely independent doctor, requiring that the patient have a mental health evaluation, and a tight definition of what constituted a “terminal” diagnosis.
  • The Delaware bill would also have re-defined assisted suicide as “palliative care”, an Orwellian distortion of a term that really means (according to the World Health Organization) treatment to ease symptoms but that affirms life and will not directly cause death.
  • A Connecticut bill that (like the bill pending in New York) would require the doctor to lie on the death certificate, raising opposition from law enforcement agencies that were concerned that the provision would prevent any investigation into whether the patient was murdered.
  • A New Mexico bill that would allow someone other than the patient to administer the deadly drugs, permit assisted suicide based solely on mental health conditions, allow prescription of the drugs by non-doctors and without seeing the patient in person but by “telemedicine” (talking to them over the internet).
  • A Minnesota bill that would violate religious and conscience rights by requiring doctors to refer patients for assisted suicide.
  • Repeated statements by assisted suicide advocates that oppose safeguards by calling them “barriers”, confuse the issue by using euphemisms like “medical aid in dying”, and routinely speak of how they intend to expand eligibility for assisted suicide with a goal of legalizing direct euthanasia.

The reality is that we are talking about murder by doctor. And there are no safeguards that can protect vulnerable patients from being exploited or mistreated. There is no way to change the inevitable message of these bills – that some lives are not worth living and that suicide is a legitimate option for people who have mental illnesses or disabilities.

The Governor is taking us down a very dark path. Instead of promoting death for the weakest and most vulnerable citizens, our government should be strengthening their legal protections and improving their access to quality health care. Our state is on a death march, and we must do all we can to change its course.

Will Congress Make Some People More Equal than Others?

Wednesday, March 27th, 2019

A bill was introduced earlier this month in Congress that is deceptively called “The Equality Act” (H.R. 5 / S. 788). It is the latest and most robust version of bills that have been kicking around in Congress for many years. Its ostensible purpose is to add “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the list of protected categories under federal civil rights laws. Its effect will be to make Christians and others who adhere to traditional sexual beliefs into second-class citizens.

Certainly, every human person must be protected against unjust discrimination. This is a bedrock principle of human rights, and it has continually been upheld by the Church for many, many years. Specifically with regard to homosexual persons, the Church could not be clearer: “They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2358).

But, despite its name, this bill will actually go much further than eliminating unjust discrimination in housing, education and employment. It is specifically designed to suppress the rights of religious people and institutions who dare to dissent from current progressive sexual dogma. This is done by one small section of the bill, which states “The Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (42 U.S.C. 2000bb et seq.) shall not provide a claim concerning, or a defense to a claim under, a covered title, or provide a basis for challenging the application or enforcement of a covered title.”

This is an astonishing provision to find in a proposed federal law. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which was passed by a virtually unanimous Congress, establishes that the federal government may not take any action that substantially burdens religious beliefs and practices unless there is a compelling reason and the offending action is done in the narrowest possible way. It was passed specifically to protect unpopular religions from oppression by majorities. But since 1993, society has changed dramatically, and it is no longer fringe religions like Santeria or Native American faiths that are unpopular with the powers-that-be. Now, its mainstream orthodox Christianity that is out of favor, particularly anyone who adheres to the traditional teachings of our faith about sex and sexuality.

By including this provision, the Equality Act would stigmatize and penalize any Christian who still believes that God made man and woman in His own image and likeness, that the differences between the sexes are significant and normative, and that morally acceptable sexual behavior is only between a man and a woman in the bonds of marriage. No matter how sincere your religious beliefs, no matter how severe the burden imposed on you, no matter how trivial the government policy, no matter how meritless the discrimination claim, you would never be able to assert your religious freedom as a defense if this bill passes. I’m not sure that there has ever been a single instance in American history in which such a fundamental right as religious liberty has been specifically eliminated by a federal statute. After all, a right without a remedy is no right at all – so if the Equality Act passes, it will effectively eliminate the right to religious freedom.

As for specifics about the kinds of harm that would be caused by this bill, in a letter to Congress, the US Bishops noted that it would:

  • Regulate thought, belief, and speech — It would compel people to conform to the new orthodoxy about sexuality or risk being sued for discrimination or creating a hostile environment. It will mandate inclusion of the new sexual orthodoxy in every training program in every workplace and school.
  • Hinder quality health care — It would require health professionals and institutions to perform medical procedures associated with “gender transition” that are objectively harmful, such as mutilation of genitals and hormone replacements. Catholic hospitals have already been sued over their refusal to maim patients because of their desire to change their “gender identity”.
  • Endanger privacy — Because there is no objective definition of “gender identity”, men and women would no longer be assured of personal privacy in traditionally sex-segregated spaces such as restrooms and locker rooms.
  • Threaten charitable services — It would force religious charitable agencies to either violate their principles or shut down. This is happening right now in Michigan to Christian adoption and foster care agencies, and it has happened in other locations as well.
  • Exclude people from various businesses, career paths and livelihoods — Professions like law, psychology and medicine will all be closed to those who do not wish to conform to gender ideology. Businesses will likewise be targeted to force conformity – just ask all those in the wedding industry who don’t want to participate in same-sex weddings and are being harassed by litigation or civil rights commissions.

In his great Memorial and Remonstrance,  James Madison made a powerful argument for religious freedom from any encroachment by the government. His words are worth quoting at length, because they embody the deep respect for the freedom of religions that was held by the Founders of our nation:

Because we hold it for a fundamental and undeniable truth, that Religion or the duty which we owe to our Creator and the manner of discharging it, can be directed only by reason and conviction, not by force or violence. The Religion then of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man; and it is the right of every man to exercise it as these may dictate. This right is in its nature an unalienable right… It is the duty of every man to render to the Creator such homage and such only as he believes to be acceptable to him. This duty is precedent, both in order of time and in degree of obligation, to the claims of Civil Society…We maintain therefore that in matters of Religion, no man’s right is abridged by the institution of Civil Society and that Religion is wholly exempt from its cognizance. True it is, that no other rule exists, by which any question which may divide a Society, can be ultimately determined, but the will of the majority; but it is also true that the majority may trespass on the rights of the minority.

Because if Religion be exempt from the authority of the Society at large, still less can it be subject to that of the Legislative Body…The Rulers who are guilty of such an encroachment, exceed the commission from which they derive their authority, and are Tyrants. The People who submit to it are governed by laws made neither by themselves nor by an authority derived from them, and are slaves.

Our government is now sliding towards a kind of totalitarianism on sexual matters, propelled by a tiny minority of people who have managed to gain the allegiance of a very powerful political party that now holds a majority in the House of Representatives. We are already living under such a regime here in New York, and this special interest group is seeking to extend it across the nation.

We need to be  very clear about the injustice this Equality Act is seeking to bring about. It is seeking to reduce Christians into second-class citizens whose rights are not to be respected when they conflict with those of the favored few. That is not equality at all, but tyranny.

Defending Infanticide is Now Pro-Abortion Dogma

Tuesday, February 26th, 2019

Yesterday, the United States Senate couldn’t muster enough votes to pass a bill banning infanticide. Yes, you read that correctly. A practice that in a civilized society would be unthinkable has become the latest bastion of pro-abortion dogma.

Here’s what happened. The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act (S.311) was brought to the floor of the Senate by its sponsor, Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska. Because of the procedural rules of the Senate, it needed 60 votes to close debate (to end a purely theoretical filibuster). Everyone understood that this was not just a procedural vote, but was really a substantive vote on the bill itself. So a “yes” vote was to ban infanticide, and a “no” vote was against it.

In a normal world, a bill like this would pass unanimously. But that’s not the world we live in. Instead, the bill only got 53 votes. Every Democrat except three voted against it.

It’s particularly interesting to note what some of the Democrats said about the bill. Here’s Sen. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii: “That is the actual intent of this bill, reducing access to safe abortion care would threaten the health of women in Hawaii”. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire called the bill “the latest salvo in the far-right wing assault on a woman’s constitutionally protected right to an abortion”. Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia said that the bill is unnecessary since there’s already a federal Born Alive Infant Protection Act. And our own inimitable Sen. Chuck Schumer (who is also the Minority Leader) said that the bill “is carefully crafted to target, intimidate, and shut down reproductive health care providers.”

Strikingly, none of the Senate Democrats gave even passing recognition that what we are talking about is a living, breathing human being who has already survived the abortion and is completely outside of her mother’s body. She is at a very vulnerable state in life, completely dependent on others for the means to continue living. Instead of showing even a modicum of compassion, they have completely dehumanized that baby, all in defense of an unlimited right to an abortion. Correction — an unlimited guarantee of a dead baby.

It never ceases to amaze me to see the amount of ignorance, misinformation, and duplicity that comes out of the mouths of public officials. Let’s start with looking at the key parts of what the bill actually says:

§ 1532. Requirements pertaining to born-alive abortion survivors

“(a) Requirements for health care practitioners.—In the case of an abortion or attempted abortion that results in a child born alive:

“(1) DEGREE OF CARE REQUIRED; IMMEDIATE ADMISSION TO A HOSPITAL.—Any health care practitioner present at the time the child is born alive shall—

“(A) exercise the same degree of professional skill, care, and diligence to preserve the life and health of the child as a reasonably diligent and conscientious health care practitioner would render to any other child born alive at the same gestational age; and

“(B) following the exercise of skill, care, and diligence required under subparagraph (A), ensure that the child born alive is immediately transported and admitted to a hospital.

So it explicitly states that it only applies if a baby is born alive and the abortion is over. All it requires is that the doctor give the baby ordinary health care, the same care that would be given to any other patient. Perhaps I’m blind, but I’m not seeing anything “carefully crafted” to have any effect whatsoever on the health of the mother, access to abortion, intimidating abortionists, or shutting down clinics. Only through the bizarre lens of abortion ideology can anyone see such things.

You would also expect federal lawmakers to understand the basic nature of federalism. The federal Born Alive Infant Protection Act (Pub.L. 107-207) redefined the term “person” in federal statutes, regulations and administrative acts to include “every infant member of the species homo sapiens who is born alive at any stage of development”. The emphasis there is on the word ” federal“. That definition has no effect on state laws, which oversee virtually all abortions that take place in the United States. So it provides no protection to children born alive unless they’re lucky enough to be born on a military base or a VA hospital. This new Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act was specifically designed to expand the protections of that earlier law to include everyone, everywhere.

And here’s the thing that tells us a lot about where we are in our country, and where the Democratic Party has gone. The Born Alive Infant Protection Act passed both houses of Congress in 2002 virtually without opposition. It passed the House by voice vote and in the Senate by unanimous consent. Obviously, a lot has changed since then. Banning infanticide is no longer something on which there is a political consensus. That’s how far the Culture of Death has advanced.

One good thing may be coming from all of this. The abortion extremism that we’re seeing in actions like this, along with the passage of the New York abortion expansion bill and the movement on similar bills, is starting to have a positive effect on the culture. A new poll from Marist College, sponsored by the Knights of Columbus, shows that there has been an increase in the number of people who call themselves “pro-life”. The poll also showed that the vast majority of Americans (71%) oppose late-term abortions, including majorities of Democrats and independents, and that only 18% believe that abortion should be legal up until birth.

The poll didn’t ask how many people thought that babies born accidentally after an abortion should be left to die without receiving basic health care — maybe because until a few weeks ago it was unthinkable that anyone would believe that. Not only is it no longer unthinkable, it’s now the law in New York and the pro-abortion movement is obviously fully committed to making it legal everywhere.

The unthinkable has become the new pro-abortion dogma.

Legalizing Baby Selling

Wednesday, February 20th, 2019

The recent abortion expansion bill isn’t the final word on how our state government views babies to be commodities that can be bought, sold, or discarded. The Governor, when he submitted his annual budget last month, snuck in a bill that would legalize commercial surrogate parenting. That is to say, it would legalize baby-selling.

Way back in the 1990’s, when our present Governor’s father was in that office, New York State was a leader in banning commercial surrogacy. That move stemmed from the controversy over “Baby M”, a child conceived through surrogacy in New Jersey. Governor Mario Cuomo and the Legislature followed the unanimous recommendation of the Task Force on Life and the Law and banned the practice here in New York. It was clearly seen as an exploitation of women and degrading to human life.

But now the current Governor has broken with his father and has managed to get the Task Force on Life and the Law to reverse their earlier recommendation. Nothing has really changed. The dangers of surrogacy are still just as real as they were in the 1990’s, as a powerful minority report from Task Force members pointed out. But the majority of the Task Force was moved, it seems, by the desire to open up parenthood to same-sex couples. This is a terrible example of how a special interest group can influence public officials who are more concerned with counting votes and rewarding supporters, regardless of the dangers to the common good.

Those dangers are self-evident from the way that commercial surrogacy works. A contract is agreed upon between “intended parents” and the “gestational carrier”. The “carrier” is not related to the “parents”, and she will become pregnant with an embryo that has been created in a laboratory through in vitro fertilization (IVF). The egg and sperm aren’t necessarily from the intended parents — they can come from complete strangers.

The standard surrogacy contracts impose all sorts of obligations on the “carrier”, and there is a severe penalty if she doesn’t comply — if she violates any provision, she forfeits any payment under the agreement and has to reimburse the “parents” for any of their expenses. This could entail tens of thousands of dollars in penalties and lost income. Talk about coercion.

The contract specifies that the “carrier” will completely relinquish all parental rights upon the birth of the child. It also gives the “parents” the power to control virtually every aspect of the “carrier’s” life, subjecting her to medical oversight by a doctor chosen by the “parents” and restrictions on her activities, including, believe it or not, her sexual activities with her husband.

Even worse, the contract gives the “parents” complete discretion over whether the “carrier” will have an abortion, if the “parents” decide that the unborn child has a disability, or if it is a multiple pregnancy and they want to “reduce” the number. It is hard to believe, but it’s true — the “carrier” must submit to an abortion or pay a substantial financial penalty.

Funny how we’re not hearing the Governor shout about “her body, her choice”.  Instead it’s “have the abortion or pay up”.

The economic imbalance of these arrangements should cause outrage among supposed “progressives” and feminists. Low-income women are certainly going to be more attracted to enter into these contracts, and the costs of IVF and the surrogacy arrangement ensures that only high-income people could afford to be “intended parents”. The minority report of the Task Force did the math, and found that the average “carrier” would be earning below minimum wage for her efforts. So much for the “progressive” commitment to economic justice and ending inequality.

Our current laws still ban selling bodily organs, selling of babies, paying people to surrender parental rights, we set limits on payments to mothers giving children up for adoption. But this bill would shatter that consensus. I doubt it will stop here.

In other times, this would be seen as an appalling example of indentured servitude or even slavery, treating mothers and children as commodities to be bought and sold. Most countries, including all of Europe, have banned it as a violation of fundamental human rights. Developing countries have outlawed it because they don’t want their women being treated as mere incubators for rich Western “fertility tourists”. But here in the moral free-fire zone of America, it’s a supposedly enlightened practice celebrated by the media and vigorously promoted by gay rights groups.

By including this bill in his budget, the Governor has corrupted the democratic process through a raw exercise of power. In our dysfunctional governmental process, it is extraordinarily difficult for an item in the budget to be removed by the Legislature. And given the influence of “progressives” and gay rights groups in the Democratic party that controls the Legislature, there appears to be little interest in removing or even debating this dangerous proposal.

We can still try to hold back this measure, by contacting our legislators and urging them to oppose legalizing baby-selling. The New York State Catholic Conference has been leading this fight, and they have an alert in their Action Center that will allow us to send emails to our representatives. We also have more information on our website about the dangers of commercial surrogacy.

With this bill, as with the abortion expansion law, the Governor has also sent a signal to the world that in New York, morality is obsolete. There is no apparent concern for the exploitation of poor women. None for the babies thrown away through economically-coerced “fetal reduction”. None for the “excess embryos” trapped in frozen limbo through IVF. None for the children who will be separated from their birth mother and perpetually confused by the question of who their parents really are.

Powerful, influential and wealthy people want to buy babies, and our state government is going to open up the market place.

No Justice for Unborn Victims

Monday, February 11th, 2019

The falsehoods about the radical new abortion law keep coming, only now they’re highlighted by an unspeakable tragedy.

Last week, in Queens, a man brutally attacked his girlfriend who was five months pregnant. He clearly targeted the unborn child in her womb, and the result was that the mother and child both died. Prosecutors first sought to bring charges against the man for criminal abortion, as well as for murdering the mother. But thanks to the Governor’s abortion expansion bill, the crime of abortion no longer exists in New York, so there will be no justice for that poor unborn child who was brutally killed.

This should shock the conscience of everyone. 38 states, the District of Columbia, and the federal government already authorize a criminal prosecution for killing or harming an unborn child. New York is the outlier on this — even super-liberal California has a law that protects unborn children from violence. But not here. We’re the radicals now.

Abortion advocates display either appalling ignorance or disingenuousness when they reply to the outrage over the new law’s decriminalization of murder. For example, one of the sponsors of the Reproductive Health Act recently opined that “Physical assault resulting in the loss of pregnancy qualifies as first-degree assault”.

Do they even read the law before making those kinds of ridiculous statements? The offense of Assault in the First Degree, Penal Law 120.10, requires that “serious physical injury” be caused to a “person”. Since an unborn child is not a “person” in New York law, you would have to prove that the assault caused that kind of grave injury to the mother. But there’s no way that a forced miscarriage could possibly qualify under the definition of “serious physical injury”. Penal Law 10.00(10) defines that as “physical injury which creates a substantial risk of death, or which causes death or serious and protracted disfigurement, protracted impairment of health or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily organ.”

You don’t have to be a lawyer to see that an attack on an unborn child doesn’t fit that definition. So it’s no accident that there is no reported case of any prosecutor in New York ever bringing a charge like that for an attack on an unborn child. That’s because the bill sponsor’s claim is nonsense, and she just doesn’t want to admit the fatal flaw in her bill.

It also isn’t good enough to say that “oh well, he’ll be prosecuted for murdering the mom so that’s enough punishment”. Would it be enough to say that the Parkland murderer should only face one charge, instead of being held responsible for killing each and every one of those children? Or should we now revise the 9/11 memorial in lower Manhattan to erase the unborn children who died in that attack? Aren’t those children mourned by their parents and relatives just as much as anyone else who died?

Not only that, but there are many instances where an assault on the unborn child results in no injury to the mother, but death to the child. Just last year, a doctor was sentenced to 20 years in prison for using an abortion pill to cause the death of an unborn child. A quick Google session found several other instances in the last few years in which a man secretly gave a pregnant woman the abortion pill in an effort to kill the unborn child. One of them took place right here in New York in 2014.

None of these men could be prosecuted in New York now, because the pills didn’t cause any kind of injury to the mother. So these kinds of criminals are now being given a free shot at hurting or killing an unborn child — one who is wanted by her mother.

Fixing this should be a ground ball. It has nothing to do with affecting legalized abortion in any way. Every version of an Unborn Victims of Violence Act that’s been offered here in New York makes that clear. The amendments that were offered before the Reproductive Health Act was passed also made that clear. But the pro-abortion ideologues who pushed the Governor’s bill are unwilling to budge an inch from their refusal to recognize any intrinsic value in the life of an unborn child. For goodness sake, even Roe v. Wade recognized the legitimate state interest in protecting the life of an unborn child, particularly after viability. Why can’t the pro-abortion movement even give a bit of legal recognition and protection to babies that are wanted by their mothers?

That voice you hear is from a baby who was brutally killed in her mother’s womb in Queens. She cries out to God for justice. There is none for her in New York.

The Truth About Late Term Abortions

Wednesday, February 6th, 2019

In the wake of the passage of the abominable Reproductive Health Act here in New  York, and the move to pass similar bills in Virginia, New Mexico and Rhode Island, abortion advocates and apologists have turned on the fog machine to hide the truth. That’s because the truth is horrifying.

They have been claiming that late-term abortions are rare, that they are only done for desperate reasons like imminent fetal demise, that the bills do not legalize abortion up until the moment of birth, that a live birth in the course of an abortion never happens, and that in any event that would not constitute infanticide.

All of these claims are false.

According to a study from the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute, approximately 1.3% of all abortions are done after 21 weeks. Since they estimate the total number of abortions to be about 900,000, that means that every year, about 12,000 abortions take place after the time that a child can feel pain and has a chance to live outside of the womb. Can something that happens as much as 12,000 times a year be called rare?

Let’s put that in context. There were about 14,000 firearm homicides in the US in 2016, according to the CDC. I doubt that anyone considers gun violence to be “rare”. Consider also that there were 35 people killed in school shootings in the United States in 2018, and that is typically called an “epidemic” or a “wave” in the media. There were about 350 people killed in 2018 in what are called “mass shootings” (incidents that involve multiple victims).

All of these acts of violence are deplorable tragedies that get a great deal of media attention. But the 12,000 late-term abortions are invisible by comparison. They’re not “rare”. They’re being ignored.

Late term abortions are also not being done only in the so-called “hard cases” of severe fetal disability or to preserve the mother’s life or health. The pro-abortion Guttmacher institute published an academic study in 2013 that concluded this: “data suggest that  most women seeking later terminations are not doing so for reasons of fetal anomaly or life endangerment”. Rather, the most common reasons for delaying until the third trimester were not recognizing the pregnancy, difficulty in making the decision to abort, disagreeing with the father of the child, not knowing where to get an abortion, difficulty getting to an abortionist, and financial difficulties.

This is not to minimize the struggles of the women who have late-term abortions, or those who are facing the tragedy of adverse diagnoses of their baby. But let’s make sure we’re telling the truth — most late term abortions have nothing to do with “hard cases”, they really are just delayed birth control. And this new law permits that and does nothing to prevent it.

As for whether the RHA legalizes abortion up until birth for pretty much any reason, all you have to know is how the Supreme Court defines “health of the mother”, which is one of the acceptable reasons for a late abortion under the law. It’s defined as “all factors — physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman’s age — relevant to the well-being of the patient” ( Doe v. Bolton, the companion case to Roe v. Wade). There is nothing that wouldn’t fit within that definition, especially since the decision is made between the mother and the doctor who’s been hired to kill the baby.

The idea of a baby being born alive during the course of a late-term abortion has also been derided. But academic studies from Europe have estimated that the number of children who survive an abortion after 23 weeks is almost 10%, and the number rises the later the pregnancy progresses. Since there’s no reason to think that we’re any different from Europe, that means that as many as 1200 babies may be born alive in the United States during the course of a late abortion – babies that could potentially survive with basic medical care.

One study revealed that some babies born after a post-22 week abortion lived as long as 270 minutes, with a median of 66 minutes.  The studies show that such babies are routinely abandoned to die of neglect, often suffering in pain as they struggle to continue living. And this could be going on in hospitals where, right down the hall, heroic efforts are being made to save preemies in the neo-natal intensive care unit.

This is infanticide by any reasonable definition of the word. In the ancient world, it was common practice to kill unwanted children by exposure — leaving them out in the open to die. It is just as much a murder to leave a helpless child to die without ordinary medical care as it is to strangle her or dismember her. One of the great social accomplishments of Christianity in its first few centuries was the eradication of this abhorrent practice. We are reverting to barbarism.

We often read heart-breaking stories of children who die of neglect by their parents. Those stories are usually front-page news and result in calls for drastic legal reforms and interventions. The aborted live babies die in silence, ignored and invisible.

There’s no doubt that we will continue to see op-eds in the Times by the Governor and other pundits, “fact-check” articles put out by major media outlets, and “spin” being  pitched by TV talking heads. But the truth about late-term abortion is out there, and it really is horrific.

Here’s What the New Abortion Law Really Says

Wednesday, January 30th, 2019

We are frequently questioned or challenged to substantiate the arguments that we have been making about the effect of the Reproductive Health Act. People keep asking us to show them “where in the bill does it say that”?

Here is a detailed explanation of how the bill (now the law) does precisely what we have accused it of doing. The language of the bill is in italics, followed by the legal analysis.

§ 2599-aa. Policy and purpose. The legislature finds that comprehensive reproductive health care is a fundamental component of every individual’s health, privacy and equality. Therefore, it is the policy of the state that:

1. Every individual has the fundamental right to choose or refuse contraception or sterilization.

2. Every individual who becomes pregnant has the fundamental right to choose to carry the pregnancy to term, to give birth to a child, or to have an abortion, pursuant to this article.

The term “fundamental right” is extremely significant. This language incorporates the constitutional law principle that “fundamental rights” cannot be regulated except for compelling state interests and in the most narrow way possible. Virtually no regulations of abortion survive this “strict scrutiny” standard.

3. The state shall not discriminate against, deny, or interfere with the exercise of the rights set forth in this section in the regulation or provision of benefits, facilities, services or information.

This language poses a direct threat to religious freedom and conscience rights. It gives the state the authority to deny licenses to individuals and institutions that do not provide or cooperate with abortion.

§ 2599-bb. Abortion. 1. A health care practitioner licensed, certified, or authorized under title eight of the education law,

To understand the significance of this, you have to understand that the Education Department oversees all the licensed professions like doctors, physician assistants, nurses, and others. So this provision authorizes the Education Department to permit non-doctors to do abortions and to set the limits on what they can do. So it’s entirely in their discretion to allow non-doctors to do surgical abortions like early suction aspiration abortions – where a vacuum is inserted into the womb and the baby is sucked out, often being dismembered in the process of being killed.

acting within his or her lawful scope of practice, may perform an abortion when, according to the practitioner’s reasonable and good faith professional judgment based on the facts of the patient’s case:

This means that the application of this law is entirely in the discretion of the abortionist. Since there are no penalties for violating the law, this standard is meaningless.

the patient is within twenty-four weeks from the commencement of pregnancy, or

This means abortion on demand for any reason at all for the first twenty-four weeks of pregnancy, including times when the infant has a heartbeat (about eight weeks), and can feel pain (about twenty weeks).

there is an absence of fetal viability, or

This term is undefined in the law, meaning that it is entirely up to the abortionist to determine the application of the law, with no third party (e.g., another doctor) having to concur. The doctor can therefore decide that an infant isn’t “viable”, for example, because she has a developmental problem that would require medical treatment for her to survive – in other words, virtually any kind of disability.

the abortion is necessary to protect the patient’s life or health.

This is the heart of the matter. This term “health” has been defined by the Supreme Court as meaning “all factors — physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman’s age — relevant to the well-being of the patient” ( Doe v. Bolton, the companion case to Roe v. Wade). In effect, it means any reason whatsoever, if the woman and the abortionist consider it relevant to her emotional or psychological or family health. Notice also that the bill considers only the mother to be a “patient”. The unborn child is a target.

§ 3. Section 4164 of the public health law is REPEALED.

This provision repeals the law that gave full civil rights protection to a child born accidentally in a post-twenty-week abortion, required that such abortions be done in a hospital, and that a second doctor be available to provide care to the infant. By repealing it, the bill guarantees that the infant will receive no care and will be allowed to die untreated. After all, the infant isn’t the doctor’s patient – just the mother. And the doctor has no obligation to provide treatment that he considers futile. And in the end, the entire purpose of the abortion is to produce a dead baby, so this part of the bill guarantees that.

§ 5. Sections 125.40, 125.45, 125.50, 125.55 and 125.60 of the penal law are REPEALED

This provision repeals all the criminal statutes that would penalize illegal abortions. It thus would prevent a serious criminal prosecution for a direct attack on the unborn child, an abortion by an unlicensed person (the “back-alley” practitioner), and a coerced abortion.

Many of the advocates for this bill – including the Governor and other elected officials – continue to spread falsehoods and deny what it really does. So let’s turn the question around on them. Take our worst-case scenarios, and ask, “where in the bill does it prohibit that?” The fact is, there is absolutely nothing in the bill, or the state of the law after its enactment, that would prohibit any of these following things.

  • Abortion up until the moment of birth for any reason – because of the broad definition of “health” that could include virtually anything the mother and the abortionist want it to mean.
  • Non-doctors doing surgical abortions (e.g. vacuum aspirations) – because it repeals the physician-only provision of the old law and leaves it entirely up to the Education Department to decide who can do abortions.
  • Pharmaceutical abortions prescribed online (the term is “telemed”) – again, because the scope of practice of the abortionist is entirely in the discretion of the Education Department.
  • New York becoming an abortion destination – because we will be one of the few states in the nation that permits late-term abortions for any reason without any regulation.
  • Aborting an infant with a disability who would need medical care to survive out of the womb – because of the vagueness of the term “viability”, and also because of the broadness of the term “health”.
  • Not treating an infant born alive accidentally – because it repealed the law that granted legal protection to such children, and because abortionists are not going to treat the child that they were in the process of killing in the womb moments earlier.
  • Prosecutions of non-licensed persons performing abortions (the old “back-alley” abortion) – because prosecuting the offense of practicing medicine without a license is up to the discretion of the Education Department and the Attorney General, and it’s very unlikely that New York’s staunchly pro-abortion government is going to do much about this.
  • An attack on an unborn child that does no harm to the mother but causes a miscarriage – because the unborn child is not a “person” under our law, the only possible crimes to prosecute might be misdemeanor assaults on the mother, a woefully inadequate remedy for such a heinous offense.

Much has been made of the idea that this bill only “codified Roe v. Wade“. But here’s what the Supreme Court actually said in Roe:

With respect to the State’s important and legitimate interest in potential life, the “compelling” point is at viability. This is so because the fetus then presumably has the capability of meaningful life outside the mother’s womb. State regulation protective of fetal life after viability thus has both logical and biological justifications. If the State is interested in protecting fetal life after viability, it may go so far as to proscribe abortion

This new law rejects the idea that the state has any interest whatsoever in protecting the life or health of an unborn child at any stage, much less the time when the baby can survive outside of the womb. That is a gross dereliction of one of the fundamental duties of any government, and it marks a return to barbarism.

That’s what the law says.  It is perverse to claim otherwise.

Abortion and Elections

Tuesday, November 13th, 2018

The election last week was a watershed event for the pro-life cause in New York. For the first time in years, the Democratic Party gained control of the Senate, giving it complete control of both houses of the Legislature and all of the State-wide offices, and also of appointments to the Court of Appeals and intermediate appellate courts.

Our blue state has gotten even bluer. This is the result of long-term trends, including the increased share of the Latino vote, the increased activism of young voters, growing numbers of people who do not practice any faith, and shifts in political views among college educated people (particularly women) and those who live in the suburbs. The deep unpopularity of the President was a major factor. No Republican has been elected to a state-wide office since 2002, and the likelihood of the GOP staging a significant comeback are bleak.

Why does this matter so much for the cause of life? Because the Democratic Party in New York has become the Extremist Pro-Abortion Party. The Governor ran a campaign that highlighted his support for a vast expansion of abortion under the guise of “codifying Roe v. Wade“. Remember, 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.” The new Democratic majority in the State Senate has promised to pass the Reproductive Health Act as one of their first priorities in the upcoming legislative session, and we expect more anti-life bills to follow — like discriminatory measures targeting pregnancy centers and mandated coverage of contraception and abortion in all health insurance policies.

Make no mistake. This is an extremist agenda. 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 official statistics tell the horrible story of abortion in our state. 86,627 abortions in New York State in 2015; 367 abortions per 1,000 live births (so over a quarter of all pregnancies in our state ends with an abortion); 505 abortions per 1,000 live births in New York City (so over a third of all pregnancies in the City ends with an abortion); 1,038 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 abortions in our state after 20 weeks, after the time when unborn children can feel pain. The current abortion regime in our state has decimated entire swaths of our population and has left millions in post-abortive pain. It is the very definition of a gross dereliction of duty by our government.

The legislation being promoted by the Governor and the Democrats would make things even worse. It would expand the availability of late-term abortions on demand; it would permit non-doctors to do abortions, including late-term abortions; it would virtually eliminate the ability of the State or local governments to regulate the practice of abortion; it would 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 it would eliminate the legal obligation to have a doctor on hand to care for a baby born alive after an abortion. That’s not a “pro-choice” bill, it’s the abortion industry’s dream list.

I am in the middle of reading the book Gosnell: The Trial of America’s Biggest Serial Killer. The recently-released movie is based on this book. It’s the story of how Kermit Gosnell was brought to justice, almost by accident, for running an atrocious abortion mill in Pennsylvania. The book is a harrowing read. The clinic was filthy, staffed by unprofessional morally depraved incompetents, and the patients were treated worse than animals. The doctor was a psychopath who kept body parts and intact dead babies as trophies of his work. He and his staff routinely and callously killed any baby born alive and threw them in the garbage. It is horrifying and stomach-turning reading.

The worst thing about the Gosnell case is that it was permitted to happen because of the pro-abortion ideology of the state government of Pennsylvania, who were criminally negligent in responding to complaints and inspecting the clinic. The “pro-choice” governor of that state made it clear that abortion clinics were off limits to government regulators. Gosnell was permitted to commit mass murder with impunity because of the complicit inactivity of the government.

Now that the Pro-Abortion Extremist Party is in full control of the New York government, the Gosnell case stands as a vivid warning of what may happen here. We’ve already seen the results of an abortion industry that has no accountability. We’ve seen videos of women being taken from clinics in ambulances due to complications from abortions, the State Health Department inspects virtually no abortion clinics, and they have never shut down an unlicensed clinic in recent memory. Neither the State government nor local law enforcement has been interviewing women who have been coerced into abortions, or who were the victims of sex traffickers or child rapists who were never reported by abortion clinics.

Elections obviously have consequences. Voters obviously were unaware of or indifferent to the current Culture of Death that exists in our state. St. John Paul, in The Gospel of Life, spoke of a “a war of the powerful against the weak” and a “conspiracy against life”. New York is deeply in the grips of this conspiracy. We need to become even greater prayer warriors, defenders of women who are vulnerable to abortion, and promoters of the truth of the beauty and dignity of every human life. We have powerful adversaries, and we have our work cut out for us.

The Truth is on Trial

Tuesday, October 9th, 2018

[On October 4, I was honored to receive the Great Defender of Life Award from the Human Life Foundation. The following is the text of my acceptance address.]

As we’ve all seen in recent weeks, one of the greatest challenges of our time is that the truth is on trial. We’ve heard that we live in a post-truth and post-moral society. But nothing could be more dangerous than to fall for the pernicious lie that there is no such thing as objective, eternal moral truth.

We see this all around us. Academia has long peddled the idea that “everything is relative”, and that we can define our own “truth”. In the public square we see the truth subordinated to political ends or distorted by “spin” and ideology. I don’t have to cite specific examples. Just pick up the newspaper.

We can see this in the sufferings of the Catholic Church that I love and serve. We see it especially when we listen to the victims of abuse, as I do. We see what happens when people betray the truth, ignore it, hide it or hide from it. For the longest time we didn’t realize — and in some places we still don’t realize — that the only way to address the problem is with the truth, by living according to it and accepting the consequences. If you want to see the case study of what happens when we fail to uphold the truth, look at the Church.

The denial of truth is certainly not a new phenomenon. But in the communication age, it is spreading like a virus and is having a corrosive effect on society on all levels — from our public institutions down to our own individual lives.

Truth is on trial, and the vulnerable are at risk. In reality, we are all at risk.

My particular focus is on the degradation of the law. Up in the Bronx, at the majestic County Courthouse, you can see inscribed above the north portico: “The administration of justice presents the noblest field for the exercise of human capacity.” That certainly presupposes that there is such a thing as justice, and that there is nobility in serving it.

Does anyone believe this anymore? I do, but I certainly wasn’t taught that in law school, and it’s hard to see it anywhere in our politics or government. It has been replaced by legal positivism — the idea that there is no objective morality, that the law is nothing but an expression of power, special interest, and domination, and that there is no law but man’s law.

You can see the danger. If there is no law but man-made law, then nothing is safe and, as my first-year Contracts professor told us — “It’s all up for grabs”. Pope Benedict warned us about this, “A purely positivistic culture… would be the capitulation of reason, the renunciation of its highest possibilities, and hence a disaster for humanity, with very grave consequences.”

How far we have come from the day, when in the midst of the slavery debate, the great statesman William Seward said “there is a higher law than the Constitution, which regulates our authority over the domain, and devotes it to the same noble purposes.”

Instead we have a Supreme Court that echoes the infamous Dred Scott decision by holding that unborn human beings have no rights that born people are bound to respect. A Court that says that absolute personal autonomy is the highest value, and that everyone can somehow define the meaning of the universe for himself. A Supreme Court Justice who cynically instructed his law clerks that the most important thing to know about the Court is five — the bare majority needed for a decision.  A series of nominees who are forced by the confirmation process to talk about decisions that were wrong the day they were decided – Roe and Casey in particular – and call them “settled law” that have to be respected as “precedent”.  Not much has changed since Frederick Douglass said of the Dred Scott Supreme Court, “[they] can do many things, but [they] cannot change the essential nature of things — making evil good, and good, evil”. But they certainly are still trying, and will continue to try.

We see this in every issue we face in the pro-life movement, where the powerful first devalue, then dehumanize, and then dispose of the weak. For the past few years I’ve spent a lot of time on the issue of assisted suicide. People with disabilities and elderly people are being told their lives have no value because they lack some kind of quality or capability or because they are too costly to maintain. They are being told that they are better off dead. Insurance companies won’t pay for treatment but they will pay for suicide drugs. Doctors become killers, laws put people in danger rather than protecting them, the advocates hide behind phony terms like “medical aid in dying”, they claim that it’s not really “suicide” and they call it “compassionate”. This is what the denial of the truth brings us to.

Yes, the truth is on trial. We are on trial. The stakes are very high. But we have an answer because our movement is at its heart a truth-teller.

One of the fundamental truths we hold is that there is a law that governs us all — the natural law.

It is a universal objective moral order that God wrote in our hearts and in our very nature, but it is discernible by reason also. The truth of this law does not depend on power, identity, feelings, culture, or the whims of courts or legislatures. It is real, eternal, binding on us all and essential for our safety and happiness. All human laws must conform to it, or at least not contradict it, or they are not binding on us, and we must try to correct them. James Wilson, Founding Fathers and one of the first Supreme Court Justices, said “it should always be remembered, that this law, natural or revealed, made for men or for nations, flows from the same divine source: it is the law of God… Human law must rest its authority, ultimately, upon the authority of that law, which is divine”. All the Founders of our nation believed this. Abraham Lincoln believed it. Can you imagine any Supreme Court nominee saying this now?

This higher law stands against any abuse of power, whether by individuals or governments. Under this law, abortion and euthanasia would be unthinkable – nobody can take into their own hands the absolute, unaccountable power over life and death.

The natural law and its objective moral truth are the cure for the pessimism and nihilism of the legal positivists.  It gives us the foundation to uphold what is right and good and most human — polices that embody justice, charity, and the common good, and laws that protect the most vulnerable, and defend religious freedom and human rights.  How much better life would be, if these fundamental truths were embodied in our law. How much more happiness there would be in our world.

This is why our movement is so important. We are the advocates for the weak and vulnerable who are most at risk when the powerful act as if there is no truth, no eternal law, and “it’s all up for grabs”. In the end, we know that we will be judged — as individuals and as a nation — not according to man’s “settled law”, or the Supreme Court’s precedents, but by God’s eternal law.

And we prove these truths by how we love — from the mother vulnerable to abortion, to the single parent struggling to survive, to the disabled person living in loneliness. Including loving those who oppose us. Love is the most powerful argument for the truth.

Our society has lost sight of these truths. But we are here to remind them.

We hold these truths to be self-evident:

  • Every human being has been endowed by God with dignity and rights that cannot be taken away by anyone.
  • The first and foremost of these rights is the right to live.
  • Every unique individual human being has inestimable value that is not dependent on productivity or ability or usefulness or convenience.
  • It is a fundamental injustice to hurt or kill an innocent person no matter their age or condition.
  • The government has a solemn duty to protect and defend everyone.
  • It is a disgraceful dereliction of duty for the government to stand by and do nothing while innocent lives are taken, or, even worse, to encourage it or pay for it.
  • We are all united in one human family — what hurts one hurts us all.
  • Because either everybody’s life matters or nobody’s life matters.

Our challenge is the same it has always been, in every movement to eliminate injustice and oppression — from abolitionism to the civil rights movement to our pro-life movement. Abraham Lincoln once said, “[T]he real issue… is the eternal struggle between these two principles—right and wrong—throughout the world.  They are the two principles that have stood face to face from the beginning of time; and will ever continue to struggle.”

This is our struggle, our trial, in our time – to defend every human life.

We do this because have an unshakable confidence. We are not be discouraged by the powerful forces that oppose us. We will speak the truth with love. We will uphold the law that God has written into every human heart. We will lift up the weak and vulnerable. We will dare to do our duty to them.

And we know that by the grace of God and our hard work, our cause — our glorious cause — will triumph in the end.

Concerns About Health Care Reform

Thursday, March 23rd, 2017

The House of Representatives is poised to vote on a proposal to reform the Affordable Care Act. The new bill, called the American Health Care Act, is being pushed forward under a procedural rule that permits a bill to pass by only 50 votes in the Senate, to evade the usual Senate rule that 60 votes are required to close debate and vote on the substance of the bill itself. The bill is going to be yet another major piece of legislation that will be supported only by one of the parties, and opposed by the other — there will be virtually no bipartisan support for the bill in either the House or the Senate.

This bill has some significant reforms that are very positive developments for the cause of human life:

  • Restriction of Federal Funding for Abortion — The bill will not permite federal tax credits to be used for any health plan that covers elective abortions.
  • Codifying the Hyde Amendment — This very important measure limitats federal funding for abortion to those cases involving rape, incest, or to preserve the life of the mother. While we do not consider this to be ideal in principle, it is a recognition that taxpayer money should not be used for the vast majority of abortions.
  • Limits on Funding for Planned Parenthood — The bill would prohibit Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood clinics for one year. Murder Incorporated gets over half a billion dollars a year in grants and reimbursements, so anything that would cut any part of their money stream is a good idea.
  • Supporting Pregnant Women — The bill would retain the requirement that insurance plans cover maternity care, which would be deemed an “essential health benefit”.

However, there are problems with the bill, also from a pro-life perspective:

  • Caps on Medicaid funding — The bill would convert Medicaid from an open-ended entitlement that is guaranteed federal funding into a block grant to the states with a fixed upper limit. The argument for this is that it will encourage the states to increase efficiency and control costs. However, it is basic economics that any time the supply of any kind of commodity (such as health insurance payments, in this case) the result can be rationing enforced by the government. This is very troubling. The great bulk of Medicaid expenditures is for elderly, handicapped, and terminally ill patients. Our concern is that a cap on Medicaid spending may lead to pressures to limit life-sustaining treatments that are morally obligatory — which would lead to involuntary euthanasia (causing death by omitting treatments) and increased pressure for people to choose assisted suicide.
  • Continued Mandatory Contraception Coverage — Contraception would continue to be included as a required benefit. This is both immoral and unnecessary. Since some forms of “contraception” actually cause early abortions, it also undercuts the bill’s limitations on funding for abortion.
  • Lack of Conscience Protection — Current federal conscience protections are not adequate either in substance or in enforcement. Greater protections have to be enacted into law that will prevent discrimination against individuals and institutions that decline to participate in morally offensive activities, such as abortion, contraception, sterilization, assisted reproduction, suicide and euthanasia.
  • Large Numbers of People Losing Health Insurance — The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that as many as 24 million people will lose insurance coverage under this bill. While those numbers have been disputed, there is no disagreement that fewer people will have coverage. This is very troubling, since the most likely people to lose access to health care will be poor and disabled people, and may increase incentives for women to have abortions.

The current Affordable Care Act is deeply flawed in many ways. But any reform effort should be sure to correct those problems and not cause other problems. The USCCB has written to Congress about these concerns. We have to press Congress to address those concerns and guarantee true and morally acceptable health insurance coverage to all Americans.