Archive for the ‘Abortion’ 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?”

The Culture of Death and Lawlessness

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

The Culture of Death is a culture of lawlessness.  Once our nation violated the natural law by permitting the killing of innocents by abortion, it inevitably began to ignore or jettison other laws as well.  You can see this in what passes for Supreme Court “jurisprudence” on abortion, which has regularly invented Rube Goldberg-like legal arguments, twisted precedents, and distorted the meaning of language in order to perpetuate an unjust regime under which unborn children have no rights that our lawmakers are bound to respect.

News in the past few days has brought new evidence of the inherent lawlessness of the Culture of Death.  A report by the Congressional Accountability Office has revealed that the implementation of the Affordable Care Act has resulted in massive taxpayer subsidizing of elective abortion.

Remember, the Act was passed largely because of last-minute promises by the Administration.  They gave assurances that people would be able to buy plans that don’t cover elective abortions, and that no taxpayer funds would be used directly or indirectly to pay for elective abortions.  Health plans offered through the state exchanges would be permitted to cover abortion, but no taxpayer-funded subsidies were supposed to be used to buy coverage for elective abortion.  Insurers that covered elective abortions would be required to collect a separate payment from policy holders, in order to ensure that taxpayer subsidies did not pay for abortions.

Many of us doubted the sincerity of those promises at the time and were dubious of the Administration’s commitment to put them into practice.  Our pessimism has proven to have been right. The GAO’s report found the following:

  • Twenty-eight states allow insurance plans sold on their exchanges to cover abortion. In those 28 states, 1,036 plans include elective abortion coverage, while 1,062 only cover abortion in the case of rape, incest or to preserve the mother’s life.
  • Every single taxpayer-supported plan sold in New Jersey, Connecticut, Vermont, Rhode Island, and Hawaii covers elective abortion.
  • Other states, including our own, are nearly as bad — in New York, 405 out of the 426 plans offered cover elective abortions. In Massachusetts, 109 out of 111 cover abortions. In California, 86 out of the 90 plans cover it.  In these large states, between 95% and 98% of plans cover elective abortion.
  • The GAO specifically interviewed 18 insurers, who offered three-quarters of the coverage in the twenty-eight states that allow abortion coverage.  Fifteen confirmed that they covered all abortions, none of them charged separately for abortion coverage, and none of them even itemized the coverage on their bills.
  • To put it plainly, the law is being ignored on a massive scale.  Every American taxpayer is now paying for elective abortion, and millions of pro-life Americans have no choice but to pay out of their own pockets for the death of innocents.

    So much for promises and assurances from this lawless Administration, whose commitment to the Cult of Moloch is absolute.

    The Culture of Death corrupts everything it touches.  It has corrupted our legal and medical professions, and the rule of law itself.

    A Welcome, Disappointing Decision

    Monday, June 30th, 2014

    Pro-Lifers rarely win court cases, so it is very gratifying to win one in the Supreme Court. Unfortunately, even in victory, there is disappointment, and a sense that the constitutional rights of pro-life people have been relegated to second-class status.

    The case was McCullen v. Coakley, and it arose out of a terrible Massachusetts law that established a 35-foot buffer zone around abortion clinics. Pro-lifers were prohibited from entering that zone, which effectively banned any attempt to speak to women seeking abortions (“sidewalk counseling”) completely. However — and this is crucial — abortion clinic staff were permitted to be in the zone and speak to the women who were approaching the clinic.

    The Supreme Court, by a unanimous decision, found that the law was unconstitutional. However, the Court’s unanimity is actually deceiving — although all nine justices agreed that the law was invalid, the Court was actually split 5 to 4 on the reasoning. And the reasoning of the majority is very troubling.

    One of the fundamental principles of the First Amendment guarantee of free speech is that the government cannot pass a law that is based on the content of a person’s speech, and that discriminates against one particular point of view. The principle is called “viewpoint neutrality”.  The majority found that the Massachusetts law did not violate the requirement of neutrality, but still found the law unconstitutional because it burdened speech more than was necessary to fulfill the government’s legitimate objectives.

    But that reasoning is gravely flawed.  Take it out of the abortion context for a second. Consider the hypothetical case of a law that places a buffer zone around a mine entrance where there is a highly contentious strike taking place. Imagine that the law prohibits striking miners from being in that zone, but allows management employees to be in the zone and speak openly to strike-breaking workers seeking to enter the plant. Can anyone imagine a court upholding such an obviously biased law? Of course not — it would be a clear case of the government taking sides in a strike, and showing favoritism towards one point of view.

    The Massachusetts statute is exactly the same, and is clearly not “viewpoint neutral”. It was specifically designed and intended to prosecute and deter only pro-life speakers, while giving pro-abortion speakers free reign to speak and act.

    Nevertheless, the majority of the Court, led by the Chief Justice, implausibly concluded that the law was “viewpoint neutral”, because on its face it did not single out pro-life speech. This is absurd — everybody understands very clearly what the goal and effect of this law is.  As Justice Scalia stated in his concurring opinion,

    The obvious purpose of the challenged portion of the Massachusetts Reproductive Health Care Facilities Act is to “protect” prospective clients of abortion clinics from having to hear abortion-opposing speech on public streets and sidewalks.

    In short, although the Court unanimously struck down the law, there is only a minority of Justices who believe that pro-lifers deserve the full protection of the Constitution. This follows a disturbing trend in the Supreme Court, in which abortion distorts the Constitution — indeed, abortion corrupts everything it touches.

    Again, to quote Justice Scalia:

    Today’s opinion carries forward this Court’s practice of giving abortion-rights advocates a pass when it comes to suppressing the free-speech rights of their opponents. There is an entirely separate, abridged edition of the First Amendment applicable to speech against abortion.

    So, while it’s good that we’ve won a big case, it’s clear that pro-lifers continue to be treated as second-class citizens in our courts.

     

    Unsafe and Uncaring

    Thursday, April 10th, 2014

    It has long been suspected that the abortion industry in New York is essentially an unregulated operation.  There are some rules and regulations on the books that require certain minimal health and safety conditions at clinics, and requirements that clinics be licensed.  But up until now, it wasn’t known whether the government ever enforced these rules.

    Now we know.  They don’t enforce them.  They obviously don’t care about health and safety inside abortion clinics.  It’s clearly an untouchable industry.

    Last year, the Chiaroscuro Foundation, a staunch pro-life organization, filed Freedom of Information requests with the New York City and New York State Health Departments, asking them for information about inspections of abortion clinics in New York City.  The City Health Department immediately ducked, claiming that they have never done an inspection because, they claim, only the State has jurisdiction.

    The State Health Department dragged their feet, and eventually the Chiaroscuro Foundation had to sue them to get access to the public records.  After much wrangling in court, the State produced some records, and what they contained was truly appalling.  Here’s how Chiaroscuro described it:

    The New York State Health Department has failed to inspect the majority of the state’s estimated 225 abortion clinics and several of the clinics that have been inspected were cited for cringeworthy violations, according to Freedom of Information Law documents obtained by the Chiaroscuro Foundation.

    Over the course of more than a decade, there were zero inspections of unlicensed clinics offering abortion services and of the state’s 25 licensed clinics, eight of those clinics were not inspected at all. A mere 45 inspections were conducted over that time period and no clinics were inspected on an annual basis.

    The 17 clinics that did receive inspections revealed disturbing violations, including an Anesthesiologist cited for relying on a broken monitor to assess the patient’s vital signs, failure to ensure a registered professional nurse is present in the recovery room to monitor post-operative patients and unsanitary practices of reusing suction tubing for aspiration of human contents. The State Health Department has refused to disclose the names of the clinics who committed violations, making it impossible for women to know which clinics are sanitary and safe…

    There were 1,145,261 abortions performed in New York City from 2000-2012 a total of 1,515,108 in New York State from 2000-2012.

    Click on this link to the description of the actual inspection violations that were found, if you have a strong stomach.

    Now think about this for a minute:

    No inspections of unlicensed clinics in the last decade.  None.  

    No routine annual inspections of any clinics.  None.

    And only now, after a decade of neglect of their duties, a year after receiving the FOIL request, but within days of being publicly embarrassed in the New York Post, the State Health Department is finally scrambling to do inspections — but of only the licensed clinics.  The unlicensed places will continue to operate in the shadows with impunity.

    And this is the state where the Governor wants to expand access to abortion?  Despite being right next door to the state where late-term abortionist Kermit Gosnell butchered women and children for years in an un-inspected clinic?  Seriously?

    The old “pro-choice” mantra was “safe, legal and rare”.  They clearly don’t care about rare, and they clearly don’t care about safe.  But they sure care a lot about doing whatever it takes to make sure it’s “legal” — regardless of the risks to women and children.

    Truth and the Governor’s Abortion Expansion Plan

    Friday, March 21st, 2014

    Catholics from around New York State made the trek to Albany on March 19, to join in the “Catholics at the Capital Day”.   One of the major that we went there to discuss was Governor Cuomo’s abortion expansion plan, which is part of a bill with the name, “Women’s Equality Act”.

    Many of the participants in the day, when speaking with their “pro-choice” legislators, were accused of lying about the contents of the WEA.  Unsurprisingly, these ill-informed solons were just repeating the propaganda talking points put forward by the pro-abortion lobbying groups.

    So it’s worth taking a few minutes to review the truthfulness of the two essential arguments that we are making about this bill:

    The WEA would expand abortion

    It is true that the expressed purpose of the abortion provisions in the “Women’s Equality Act” is to “protect a woman’s right to obtain an abortion…  as established in Roe v. Wade”.  But this bald statement is used by pro-abortion advocates to claim that the bill does nothing more than to “codify existing law”.

    In fact, the Governor’s proposal is much more radical, and would expand abortion rights far beyond current federal and state law.

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

    So if the goal is really to “codify” current federal constitutional law on abortion, a reference to Roe is completely misplaced.  This proposal would actually codify the high-water mark of liberal abortion law, and ignore the subsequent legal developments that have pared that standard back.  It would lock in place an abortion law that is extremely permissive and hostile to any attempt to regulate or restrict the practice in any way.

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

    In fact, by appealing to the very liberal legal standard of Roe, the legislation sends a signal to the courts that they should strike down any reasonable regulation of abortion — like restrictions on public funding, a partial birth abortion ban, the criminalization of violence against unborn children, and robust conscience protections for medical practitioners who don’t want to participate in abortion.  It would make it difficult, if not impossible, to enact bills that enjoy wide public support in our state and across the nation — like restrictions on late-term abortions, health and safety regulations on abortion clinic , parental notification requirements and full informed consent provisions.

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

    By any standard, that’s an expansion of abortion.

    The WEA permits non-doctors to do late-term abortions

    A second major argument that we offer is that the bill would allow non-doctors to do surgical abortions, even up until the moment of birth.

    The bill accomplishes this by repealing the current requirement that only doctors can perform abortions (a provision found in the Penal Law).  Instead, it would grant the Health Department broad authority permit anyone — even non-health professionals — to do abortions.  It would immunize any non-doctor abortionist from any criminal prosecution, for practicing medicine without a license, or any kind of professional misconduct action.

    In other words, the Governor’s law would permit abortion with impunity for anyone who has the approval of the Health Department — whose highest officials are, naturally, appointed by this ardently “pro-choice” Governor.

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

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

    By the way, this is not just us making this claim.  Pro-abortion supporters  conceded on the floor of the Legislature last June that the bill would allow non-doctors to do abortions, and at least one influential legislator is writing to constituents that it is a major goal of the bill.

    So what’s the truth about the WEA?

    We already have over 100,000 abortions in New York State.  The great majority of them are performed on women who have had at least one previous abortion.  More African-American babies in New York are aborted than are allowed to be born.   37% of pregnancies in New York City end in abortion.

    That’s the truth.  That’s the tragedy of abortion in New York.  And we need more truth, less tragedy.

    Unity and Joy in Defense of Life

    Thursday, February 13th, 2014

    There are many graces and joys that come to those who are involved in the pro-life, pro-family cause.  One of these is the opportunity to meet and work with friends and allies in other Christian communities.

    The March for Life is a great experience every year, with thousands of people of all faiths gathering with joy and dedication. The New Yorkers for Life coalition with our evangelical friends has been very effective. I’ve been blessed by my collaboration with Alliance Defending Freedom and Focus on the Family. It is truly enriching to stand together with our Christian brethren in unity and strength.

    The other night, I had another one of these wonderful experiences. I was invited by my friend Chaplain Viviana Hernandez, to attend an event conducted by “Life Team”. This is an organization of interfaith clergy and laypeople, established by Chaplain Hernandez and Fr. Peter Pilsner in response to the abortion crisis in New York City, and the hostile policies of the City government. They have done great work building a body of committed Christians in the black and Latino communities, who are dedicated to rolling back the Culture of Death in our City.

    The event took place at the Bethel Gospel Tabernacle in Jamaica, Queens. This is a serious Christian community, very dynamic and active, with an impressive leader in Bishop Roderick Caesar. The room was filled with members of their church and others who joined them. There was a great deal of praise and worship, and I found it very moving.

    The talks were powerful. A pastor from Connecticut offered suggestions on how to speak to women who are heading into abortion clinics.  A young lady shared her incredible personal post-abortion witness, and outlined her commitment to the pro-life cause — including her participation in 2012 in a walk from Houston to Dallas as public witness to the cause of life. Pastor Beverly Caesar (Bishop Roderick’s wife) gave a powerful personal testimony and was very uplifting and encouraging. A young man sang a beautiful and touching song he specially composed to honor his own mother’s decision to choose life. Members of the community spoke of their commitment to oppose the abortion mentality that has afflicted the black community.  Plans for a new pregnancy resource center in the neighborhood were also discussed.

    Confronting the Culture of Death can be very daunting and discouraging at times.  But the message of this evening was very clear.  The cause of human life is God’s cause, and He will lift us up in this struggle.  God’s love and mercy are always at the heart of all that we do, and we must find ways to welcome people into the heart of God, who will heal their wounds.  We are united in the Holy Spirit for this mission.

    The Lord has said very clearly, “those who honor me I will honor” (1 Samuel 2:30).  I had the privilege of spending some time with a wonderful group of people who are honoring God by their commitment to the defense of human life.  I am confident that God will indeed honor them for their fidelity to His great cause.

     

    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.

    What Shall We Do to Build a Culture of Life?

    Sunday, October 20th, 2013

    (I was invited this weekend to speak at all the Masses at St. Augustine’s Church in Ossining, one of our beautiful parishes, for Respect Life Month.  Here is the text of my talk.)

    When St. John the Baptist moved among the people, he preached to them about the approach of the Messiah.  The people kept asking him the same question — “what shall we do?”  And now, all of us who are concerned about respect for life ask that same question.  “What shall we do?”

    In 1985, in his encyclical letter, The Gospel of Life, Blessed Pope John Paul II addressed the threats that are so serious and widespread that they have created a virtual “culture of death”. We see this in violent crime, war, terrorism, torture, human trafficking, the drug trade, the arms trade, and abject poverty.  But at this time, abortion and euthanasia must be the focus of our attention here in the United States. They involve unjust attacks on people when they are most vulnerable and defenseless, and they are tolerated and even approved by our society as “rights”.

    But it’s important to remember that we don’t just say “no” to things, we say “yes” to becoming a people of life and for life, and to building a new culture of life.

    To make this more concrete, I would like to offer a number of practical ideas.

    Our first task is speaking the truth about the sacredness of every human life – about how God loves every single human person, and that every human life has dignity from the moment of conception.  This is not just a principle of our faith — we rely on the basic scientific fact, available to everyone who has seen a sonogram or a video of “life in the womb”.  Human life – the life of each one of us, the life of Jesus himself in his human nature – began at conception, and carries on until our natural death, and then on into eternal life.  Every one of us, regardless of our age, disability or diminished “quality of life”, is always and forever a human person and must be treated with reverence.  Our first task is to speak this truth about the gift of human life – always with love.

    The second task is prayer.  We must pray constantly, with determination, patience and trust.  We thank God for the gift of life, and we ask Him to protect all vulnerable lives.  We do this as individuals, and we also pray as a community.  For example, praying the Rosary as a group, participating in the National Night of Prayer Vigil every December, or holding a Holy Hour on the Feast of the Incarnation of Christ (the Annunciation), or inviting people to spiritually adopt unborn children and pray for them during their nine months in the womb (kids especially love this).  We also celebrate life when we have special Masses and blessings of engaged couples, expectant parents, or new families, or communal anointing of the elderly and ill.  Life is a great gift!  And we should celebrate that in our prayer.

    The third task is to serve those in need, especially the most vulnerable.  For example, we help the elderly by visiting and offering companionship, or we offer expectant mothers alternatives to abortion.  There are many wonderful groups that do that, like Good Counsel Homes and the Sisters of Life.  We can help them by taking up collections (for example, a “baby bottle” campaign to collect small change), or by running baby showers for the new moms, or by volunteering to help with simple tasks, like driving the moms to doctors’ appointments.  Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, has been emphasizing our duty as Christians to reach out personally  to the needy and those who seem lost in our society and without hope, and this is a beautiful way to promote and defend human life.

    A particularly important way we serve others is through public policy advocacy. Last Spring, the New York State Legislature came very close to passing a bill that would have expanded abortion in our state.  We already have 110,000 abortions a year.  We don’t need any more abortion, we need more life!  But this bill would have allowed even more abortion by allowing non-doctors to do abortions, and removing the few remaining regulations on late-term abortions.  This bill was defeated because citizens raised their voices in opposition, by letter, call, email, participation in public witness and prayer rallies in Albany and locally.  The bill was defeated, but it will come back, and we have to be ready.

    I’d like to take a moment to say a special word about how we can serve women and men who have experienced an abortion.  The Gospel of Life is a message of hope and mercy and healing.  Those who have experienced an abortion should never give in to discouragement and despair.  Our loving God is always ready to give forgiveness and peace in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  The Sisters of Life run regular retreats for those who have experienced abortion, and other groups like Lumina provide support for the healing process.  Pope Francis has spoken movingly about the power of God’s mercy, and how we all can invite others to experience that mercy themselves.  There is always hope and healing available.

    The most important way we build the culture of life is within our own families, where we welcome and nurture new life, and where we support, comfort, and defend our elderly and disabled loved ones.  Our families should be a school of life!  So, married couples should never stop working on our marriages.  Parents can never stop working on your relationship with your children, teach them how to live virtuous, chaste lives and about the value of every life.  In the end, strong families and marriages are the foundation of the culture of life.

    Each and every one of us has a role to play in this mission given to us in the Gospel of Life.  So many people are doing so much already, and God bless you for that and thank you.  But every one of us can do something.  Please speak to members of your local pro-life committee, or check out the website of the Respect Life Office of the Archdiocese.

    At the end of every Mass, we often hear the words, “Go, and announce the Gospel of the Lord”, or “Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your life”.  These words don’t just mean that Mass is over – they also mean that we are being sent on a mission.  We are called — each one of us — to go back out into our regular lives and proclaim the Gospel of Life.

    By bearing witness to the dignity of every human person.  By helping parents recognize that even though a pregnancy may be difficult or inconvenient, a child is always a blessing.  By ensuring that every young woman understands that there are alternatives to abortion, and that she will be given the help and support she needs.  By making certain that all of our elderly are protected against abandonment, and are always be loved and cared for.

    And ultimately, our mission is to love, defend and serve all our brothers and sisters, from conception until natural death.  By our words and our deeds we can build a new culture of life in our land.  We ask the question, “What shall we do?”  And when, one day, we are asked by Our Lord, “What did you do?”, we will be able to answer, we were a people of life and for life, and Our Lord will be pleased with that answer, He will thank us, He will be proud of us, and He will receive us into eternal life with Him.

    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.