Archive for the ‘Legislation’ Category

The Radicalism of Roe v. Wade

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, December 4th, 2014

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

Permit me to do so, in four easy steps.

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

Step Two — The WEA states that:

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

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

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

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

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

Fighting Modern Slavery

Thursday, June 12th, 2014

Today, the New York State Senate took action to fight the scourge of modern slavery, by unanimously passing the Trafficking Victims Protection and Justice Act.

This bill is an important way to strengthen the fight against human trafficking in our state.  It is a terrible scandal and crime that thousands of people, particularly women and children, are suffering in our midst, having been brought here to serve as labor or sex slaves.  This is largely driven by the evil sex industry, particularly prostitution and pornography.

The number of victims of trafficking is staggering.  The UN estimates that there are over 1.5 million victims in the United States, Canada and Europe.  The majority (55%) of forced labor victims are women and girls.  And 98 percent of sex trafficking victims are female.  Children make up 26 percent of all victims — over 5.5 million child victims around the world.

And these numbers really do nothing to communicate the raw human suffering that is involved in this evil exploitation of vulnerable people.  It is difficult even to imagine the conditions under which sex slaves are forced to live and work.  The descriptions that I have seen rival the horrors of Dante’s Inferno.  

The Catholic Church around the world, and our own United States Bishops, have long been leaders in the battle against human trafficking.  Our bishops have an energetic anti-trafficking campaign, and Pope Francis has repeatedly denounced it as a “crime against humanity”.

Although New York enacted laws against human trafficking in 2007, our state continues to be a magnet for the modern slave trade.  By passing this bill, the State Senate has taken an important step forwards, and all our Senators are to be commended — particularly Sen. Andrew Lanza of Staten Island, who led the fight.

It is now imperative for the Assembly to take action.  In that house, the human trafficking bill is being held hostage by pro-abortion advocates.   The bill is part of the Governor’s “Women’s Equality Act”, which also has a provision that would expand abortion.  Pro-abortion Assembly representatives, and the leadership, have so far refused to allow the trafficking bill to be considered on its own.

Shame on them.  The victims of human trafficking are calling out for protection.  They can’t wait for Albany politics.  The time to end the modern slave trade is now.

The Struggle Against Abortion Expansion Continues

Friday, January 31st, 2014

Pro-abortion advocates traveled to Albany the other day to push for the passage of the Governor’s abortion expansion proposal, which is embedded in the “Women’s Equality Act”.  This plan first saw light as the “Reproductive Health Act”.  The Senate has already passed nine out of the ten parts of the WEA, which deal with such issues as domestic violence, pay equity, etc.  But the Assembly refuses to pass the valuable and good elements of the WEA, because their leadership insists on including the abortion expansion plan.

In conjunction with the pro-abortion rally in Albany, the Assembly voted once again to pass the entire WEA, with the abortion expansion plan included.  Editorial boards of newspapers around the state have been voicing their support for the WEA.  In response to one such editorial, I submitted the following letter to the editor:

I am writing in response to your editorial calling for the passage of the full 10-point “Women’s Equality Act.”  In your editorial, you note that the bill stalled in the Senate last year due to the provision that related to abortion.  But you mis-characterize that section of the bill, claiming that it would merely “codify existing federal abortion rights as affirmed in Roe v. Wade”.

In fact, the Governor’s proposal is much more radical, and would expand abortion rights beyond current federal and state law.  It would remove any obstacles to late-term abortions, and would allow non-doctors to do surgical abortions, even late-term abortions up until the moment of birth.

The bill also ignores regulations on abortion that have already been codified in federal law and that enjoy wide support among the public — like restrictions on public funding, a partial birth abortion ban, the criminalization of violence against unborn children, and robust conscience protections for medical practitioners who don’t want to participate in abortion.  It likewise ignores reasonable regulations of abortion that enjoy wide public support in our state and across the nation.   Polls consistently show that wide majorities of New Yorkers oppose late-term abortions and permitting non-doctors to do surgical abortions, and they support reasonable regulations like parental notification requirements and full informed consent provisions.

The Senate rejected the abortion provision of the Women’s Equality Act because the people of New York State don’t want an expansion of abortion.  Most New Yorkers realize that 110,000 abortions are already far too many, and that too many men and women have been wounded by abortion.

The Legislature could pass the beneficial and uncontroversial provisions of the Women’s Equality Act at any time — the individual components have been introduced in the Assembly and the Senate has already passed them.  They shouldn’t be held hostage to a radical agenda that seeks to expand abortion.

Abortion activists will never compromise in their efforts to enact this abortion expansion plan.  They will accept no limitations on abortion, and are not even satisfied with the current status quo.   Pro-life people, and those who consider themselves “pro-choice” but are uncomfortable with abortion expansion, need to make their voices heard.  The best way is through the New York State Catholic Conference’s Action Center.

Any Chance for Reasonableness?

Tuesday, October 1st, 2013

There’s even more furor and confusion than usual in Washington, as the House, Senate and White House struggle over the passage of budget bills, raising the national debt limit, funding for the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, and government shut-downs.  But something important is being overlooked — the continuing threats to the conscience rights of individuals and institutions in the Affordable Care Act and the regulations that are implementing it (including the HHS contraception/abortifacient mandate).

In a normal, functioning governmental system, important public policy measures are introduced as individual bills, public input is obtained through hearings, and the measure is openly debated by legislators.  Since we no longer appear to have such a system of government, important policy issues are tacked onto spending bills, and our government leaders rely on confrontational strategies and parliamentary gamesmanship to bend others to their will.

Lost in all of this is that crucial constitutional and natural rights are being threatened, and legislative action is needed to provide necessary protection for those rights.

One such proposal is to delay the implementation of the HHS mandate.  The Administration has already granted numerous waivers, delays, exemptions, and grace periods for various provisions of the Affordable Care Act.  What we would like to see is for Congress to vote to delay the implementation of the HHS mandate for one full year, which would give the Supreme Court time to decide some of the cases challenging the mandate.  In essence, all we are asking is that Congress put the controversy on hold, out of respect for the seriousness  of the constitutional rights at stake.

The House has already passed a continuing budget resolution that included that provision, but the Senate has rejected it.  We hope that a more conciliatory, reasonable approach will prevail, and that this common-sense measure would be accepted.

We also hope that genuine conscience protection legislation would be considered by Congress.  For example, the USCCB is advocating with Congress to include the Health Care Conscience Rights Act (which would provide broad protection for religious liberty among health care workers and institutions).   The bishops have also been pressing for legislation to address the specific conscience problems presented by the HHS mandate.

The situation in Washington is extremely frustrating, and it is difficult to see a solution to the partisan gridlock.  All we are asking is for some breakthrough of reasonableness, so that precious liberties aren’t lost in the process.

That shouldn’t be too much to ask.

The Mask Comes Off

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

During the bruising battle last Spring over Governor Cuomo’s abortion expansion bill, we repeatedly argued that one of the intended goals of the proposal was to permit non-doctors to perform surgical abortions.  In response, we were routinely derided as being alarmist and accused of lying about the bill.  Even the most ardent supporters of the bill denied having any such intention, and denied that it would have that effect.

They were wrong, of course, because the bill clearly would have permitted non-doctors to do abortions.  In fact, one of its supporters finally admitted that on the floor of the Assembly.

But it says something that the pro-abortion people still felt a need to conceal their ultimate goals.

Well, in California, they recently enacted a law that would permit physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and nurse midwives to do chemical and surgical early abortions.  The ostensible reason for this law is to increase “access” to abortion, which they see as an inherent part of women’s “reproductive health”.

Yes, you read correctly that midwives would be doing abortions, even though the entire purpose of their profession is to assist in giving birth.  And yes, an abortion is seen as being part of “reproductive health”, even though it prevents reproduction and is hazardous to the health of both mother and child. Such is the twisted mindset of the anti-life ideology.

It says something about the state of things in California that the pro-abortion people don’t even feel a need to hide things any more.  They are comfortable with being open, up-front, and honest about their goals — they want abortion to be unsafe, extremely legal, and anything but rare, and they don’t mind at all that people know about it.

This is an important lesson on the impact of the Culture of Death.  When respect for life becomes so attenuated, and the desire to deal death becomes so routine, truth is inverted into lies, and lies become respectable.  It is a cautionary tale for all of us, since we will certainly see a renewed effort by the Governor and his allies to pass an abortion expansion law here in New York.

Truth, Lies, and the Power of Prayer

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prayer and Witness are Powerful

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Spiritual Struggle

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Non-Doctors and the Abortionist’s Dream Act

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Real Law and the Abortion Expansion Bill

Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

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

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

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

So if the goal is really to “codify” current federal constitutional law on abortion, a reference to Roe is completely misplaced.  (Just to be clear, we would also oppose even a codification of the Casey standard, since that permits the unjust oppression of unborn children, particularly before viability.)

This is not just a lawyer’s quibble — it really matters in practice.  This proposal would actually codify the high-water mark of liberal abortion law, and ignore the subsequent legal developments that have pared that standard back.  It would lock in place an abortion law that is extremely permissive and hostile to any attempt to regulate or restrict the practice in any way.

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

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

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

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