Archive for the ‘State Legislature’ 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.

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.

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)

The Reproductive Health Act and Criminal Law

Thursday, February 7th, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why “Make Abortion Rare”?

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

On March 8, Catholics from around the state traveled to Albany for the annual “Catholics at the Capitol” day, sponsored by the State Bishops’ Conference.  The purpose of the day is to offer Catholics an opportunity to stand together on the broad range of issues of concern to us — protecting life, strengthening our schools, caring for the poor and sick — and to speak to our state legislators.

One of the issue papers distributed by the Conference was entitled “Making Abortion Rare”.  This document explained our Church’s opposition to the radical Reproductive Health Act, a bill that would lead to an increase in abortion, by placing it beyond any reasonable regulation.  A second issue was our opposition to the Governor’s elimination of all funding for the Maternity and Early Childhood Foundation.  That foundation supports local initiatives and organizations that offer alternatives to abortions, and have helped thousands of women have their babies.

These positions are a practical response to the challenge issued by Archbishop Dolan at his press conference in January about the appalling abortion rate in New York City: “I invite all to come together to make abortion rare, a goal even those who work to expand the abortion license tell us they share.”

Some of our pro-life supporters have expressed discomfort with saying that we wish to “make abortion rare”.  They are worried that this might imply that we are conceding the legality of abortion, and that we have given up our ultimate goal of defending every human life.

This concern is understandable, because people rightly can’t be satisfied with anything short of full protection for the unborn.  I understand this concern, but I believe it is unfounded.

Our ultimate goals in this struggle have never changed.  Nobody has any doubt about the position of the Catholic Church on abortion.  We are absolutely, unalterably, irrevocably opposed to legal abortion, and will never accept the legitimacy of laws that permit it.  We hold steadfastly to building a culture of life in which every life is valued in our society and its laws.

But while we pursue those ultimate goals, we have to take into account the political and cultural situation in which we find ourselves.  Then, relying on the virtue of prudence, we have to mitigate the harm that is being done by legalized abortion, and try to achieve realistically attainable results to advance the culture of life.

This approach was outlined in Pope John Paul II’s encyclical, The Gospel of Life:

The Church well knows that it is difficult to mount an effective legal defense of life in pluralistic democracies, because of the presence of strong cultural currents with differing outlooks. At the same time, certain that moral truth cannot fail to make its presence deeply felt in every conscience, the Church encourages political leaders, starting with those who are Christians, not to give in, but to make those choices which, taking into account what is realistically attainable, will lead to the re- establishment of a just order in the defense and promotion of the value of life. (90)

The challenge to “make abortion rare” is just such an initiative.  It takes into account the political and cultural fact that a complete abrogation of abortion laws is not attainable in our current cultural and legal climate.  It is directed not to people who are already committed to the cause of life.  Instead, it is an appeal to those who consider themselves “pro-choice”, but are uncomfortable with abortion and may be open to work with us on practical measures to reduce it.

In other words, it is an effort to change hearts, to rebuild the foundation for a true culture of life.  As hearts change, laws will follow.

Our vision and our goals will always remain the same.   As the United States Bishops said in their statement, Living the Gospel of Life:

The Gospel of Life must be proclaimed, and human life defended, in all places and all times. The arena for moral responsibility includes not only the halls of government, but the voting booth as well. Laws that permit abortion, euthanasia and assisted suicide are profoundly unjust, and we should work peacefully and tirelessly to oppose and change them. Because they are unjust they cannot bind citizens in conscience, be supported, acquiesced in, or recognized as valid. Our nation cannot countenance the continued existence in our society of such fundamental violations of human rights. (33)

Election Results

Sunday, November 7th, 2010

Gallons of ink, and millions of electrons, have been spilled on the results of last week’s election, and what it means for our nation, our state, the political fortunes of the President and a host of other presidential contenders, our new-fangled voting machines, etc.

I’m more interested in real results.

On the national level, the switch of control of the House of Representatives to the Republicans has brought with it a pro-life majority. The narrowing of the Democratic majority in the Senate also increases the chances for some pro-life legislation. These election results present new opportunities for real gains on Culture of Life issues.

The top priority has to be passing the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act. Currently, restrictions on public funding for abortion comes through piecemeal amendments to the budget bills. This means that pro-lifers have to be vigilant about all the various ways that canny legislators and bureaucrats can find to promote abortion. So, the Hyde Amendment restricts funding through the Medicaid program, the Helms Amendment stops funding for oversees abortions, the Smith Amendment prevents federal employee health insurance plans from covering abortion, and the Weldon Amendment provides conscience protection to medical personnel. Each year, these amendments have to be passed against the opposition of pro-abortion members of Congress.

This bill would take the provisions of these individual amendments, make them permanent law, and apply them across the entire federal budget. This would cure the major flaw in the health care reform law, as well as offer genuine and solid conscience protection for all medical personnel. This is a bill that would easily pass the House, and has a decent chance of passing the Senate — public funding for abortion is deeply unpopular.  It would be very interesting to see what our pro-abortion President would do if this bill appeared on his desk.

That’s one result of the elections that we’re looking forward to.

On the state level, the results of the election are not as positive. Our state has elected an ardently pro-abortion Governor and a radically pro-abortion Attorney General. Both men have committed to pressing for the passage of the extremist Reproductive Health Act. The chaos over the results of the elections for the State Senate (the final outcome is still in doubt) leaves Culture of Life supporters with a deep sense of uneasiness that the real result of the state elections could be very, very bad. So, we must remain vigilant in monitoring what goes on in Albany.

Perhaps the most interesting result of the election is the continuing demonstration of the popularity of the pro-life position. Conventional “wisdom” characterizes a pro-life stand as an electoral loser, and encourages candidates to avoid it. Conventional wisdom is dead wrong.   Polls show that 30% of the voters in this election said that abortion “affected” their vote. But it’s the breakdown of that 30% that’s most interesting — 22% voted for pro-life candidates, while only 8% voted for pro-abortion candidates. That’s an advantage of almost three to one in favor of life.

This reflects an on-going trend that I’ve written about but that continues to elude the mainstream media. Our culture is slowly changing towards greater respect for life, and a greater desire to promote life. The new pro-life majority in Congress is just one reflection of this trend. More will follow.

That is a very encouraging result of the election.

On the Edge of the Abyss — Updated

Sunday, June 27th, 2010

New York State stands poised on the edge of an abyss.  Our State Legislature is contemplating enacting an evil law, called “The Reproductive Health Act”.  As with all acts of the Evil One, this bill is a lie.  It has nothing to do with the health of anyone’s reproductive system.

It is instead dedicated to the killing of unborn children, to enshrining that iniquitous practice in our laws to the maximum extent possible, and to forcing compliance with this monstrous practice by all citizens.

I have written about this bill before (see here), and the New York State Catholic Conference has an exhaustive analysis of the bill and an action alert to allow people to contact their legislators.  Anyone interested in the details of the bill should consult these sources, and consider what our legislators are on the verge of enacting.

For me, I would like to return to first principles, and contemplate the bigger picture.   We have to start talking seriously about the disturbing fact that the legal regime that permits abortion, and this bill in particular, undermine the nature of civil society itself, and call into question the fundamental legitimacy of our current system of laws.

In his great encyclical, The Gospel of Life, Pope John Paul had this to say:

The real purpose of civil law is to guarantee an ordered social coexistence in true justice, so that all may “lead a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way” (1 Tim 2:2). Precisely for this reason, civil law must ensure that all members of society enjoy respect for certain fundamental rights which innately belong to the person, rights which every positive law must recognize and guarantee. First and fundamental among these is the inviolable right to life of every innocent human being. (71)

Laws which authorize and promote abortion and euthanasia are therefore radically opposed not only to the good of the individual but also to the common good; as such they are completely lacking in authentic juridical validity. Disregard for the right to life, precisely because it leads to the killing of the person whom society exists to serve, is what most directly conflicts with the possibility of achieving the common good. Consequently, a civil law authorizing abortion or euthanasia ceases by that very fact to be a true, morally binding civil law. (72)

Abortion and euthanasia are thus crimes which no human law can claim to legitimize. There is no obligation in conscience to obey such laws; instead there is a grave and clear obligation to oppose them by conscientious objection…  In the case of an intrinsically unjust law, such as a law permitting abortion or euthanasia, it is therefore never licit to obey it, or to “take part in a propaganda campaign in favour of such a law, or vote for it”. (73)

Lest anyone think for a moment that this is merely a Catholic sectarian position, allow me to add another quote, this time from a man who was not Catholic, and is considered so significant a figure in American history that his birthday is recognized as a federal holiday:

… [T]here are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that “an unjust law is no law at all”

Now, what is the difference between the two? How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust.

Those words were written by Rev. Martin Luther King, in his famous “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”.

Make no mistake.  Legalized abortion has pushed America far into a Culture of Death.  The Reproductive Health Act would cast us even further into an abyss where death is celebrated, life is denigrated, good is called evil and evil good.

We must stand firm, and oppose this evil.

UPDATE —

The New York State Legislature adjourned on July 2 without taking any action on the Reproductive Health Act.  However, the state budget has not been finished and it is likely that the Legislature will return during the summer to finalize their fiscal negotiations.  As a result, it is still possible that RHA may be taken up by the Legislature when they return into session later this summer.  We need to be alert, since we may be called back into action on short notice.

Stop the Radical Reproductive Health Act!

Friday, June 18th, 2010

Our dysfunctional New York State Legislature, having failed for months in its fundamental duty to govern our state responsibly, is now threatening to ram through a radical pro-abortion bill, hoping that the public won’t notice.

The so-called “Reproductive Health Act”, which was first introduced by disgraced Governor Eliot Spitzer, and then adopted by Governor David Paterson, has languished in the State Senate for months, with no action imminent.  Now, on a Friday before the last week of the legislative session, it has been suddenly introduced in the Assembly, and may be pushed through the Legislature with virtually no consideration, public input, or debate.  Typical Albany shenanigans.

Make no mistake here.  This bill has nothing whatsoever to do with reproductive health.  It is an extremist pro-abortion bill that would establish the destruction of unborn human beings as a “fundamental right”, and make it impossible to pass common-sense regulations, like parental notification laws. It would also undermine or eliminate the conscience protections in law that protect religious liberties, under the guise of eliminating “discrimination” against the newly-recognized “fundamental right”. Church-owned hospitals, social service agencies, and schools could be required to promote, perform, or refer for abortions. Our schools could be required to help pregnant girls to get an abortion, or risk being sued for “discrimination”. And the licenses of doctors, nurses, and other professionals could be at risk if they don’t promote, perform or refer for abortions.  More information about the bill can be found on the New York State Catholic Conference’s website.

Any legislator who votes for this bill will not be able to hide behind the phony rubric of being “pro-choice”.  This bill is pro-abortion, pure and simple, and would compel every part of society to acquiesce in the legal regime that refuses to recognize the most fundamental right, the right to life, for unborn children.

The Catholic Conference is calling upon everyone who values human life to immediately contact their State Senator and Assembly Representative.  The easiest way is to send an e-mail through the Catholic Conference web site.  Phone calls should also be made; representatives’ phone numbers can be found on the Catholic Conference’s website.

Please don’t let the State Legislature get away with this injustice.  Take action now.  Spread the word.  And pray.