Archive for the ‘Abortion’ Category

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.

The Meanings of the Gosnell Verdict

Monday, May 13th, 2013

The Philadelphia abortionist, Kermit Gosnell, has now been convicted of multiple counts of murder. It is a sad testament to the disordered legal environment that prevails in America could a man who aborted viable babies every single day will only be held accountable to the law for a small fraction of the number of children whose lives he snuffed out so brutally.  It is equally bizarre that this man would now face the possibility of a death sentence as a penalty for these deaths that he caused (we pray that he will not be executed, so that he may have more time to come to repentance).

Many people are asking what is the significance of this verdict. I believe it has meaning far beyond this particular case.

It reveals the true nature of an industry whose product is death and heartbreak, masked by the duplicitous propaganda of “choice”. It indicts a profession that fails to rid itself of members whose practices are reminiscent of an ancient age of barbarism. It condemns the political and government mindset — not just in Philadelphia, but in other “liberal” areas like New York — so ideologically blinded in its devotion to sexual liberation without consequences that it ignores the duty to enforce rudimentary health and safety codes. It casts judgment upon a society so deeply steeped in the Culture of Death that it averts its eyes from the reality of abortion — thousands of lives snuffed out every day, others damaged physically or psychologically — until a grossly sensational story compels it to pay brief attention.

The verdict offers our wounded society a moment of painful self-awareness. It also holds out a chance to turn away from the path that leads to the Gosnell clinics around us, and enter instead the path of reason, compassion, love, and redemption. We must pray — and work — that our society chooses rightly.

Entering the Home Stretch on the Reproductive Health Act

Friday, May 3rd, 2013

The New York State Legislature is approaching the last six weeks of its session, and there are still some key things to be done to stop the Reproductive Health Act — the extreme Abortion Expansion Act.

Based on recent public statements, it appears that a stand-alone abortion expansion bill still lacks the votes needed for passage.  It’s very encouraging that the Senate Majority Leader, Dean Skelos, has repeatedly affirmed that he will not allow any kind of abortion bill to come to the floor of the Senate.  The Governor, however, is still seeking support for a bill and continues to insist that an abortion proposal will be included in an omnibus “women’s equality” bill — which would be extremely difficult to defeat.

So, we have to continue to stand together with our broad coalition of pro-life groups, “New Yorkers for Life”, and stress that while we support a real woman’s agenda, an expansion of abortion has no place in that.

Here are some practical things that can be done between now and the end of the legislative session in June:

  • Intensify our prayer efforts for conversion of heart of our public officials, and for courage in those who are opposing this bill.  It would be particularly important for specially-dedicated Holy Hours and Rosaries for this intention — this is the Month of Mary, and the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ is on June 2.
  • Public prayerful witnesses are also very important — like this recent one in the Bronx, or this one in Orange County.  Another prayerful witness is scheduled for May 29th in White Plains.
  • We need more organizations to sign onto the New Yorkers for Life Statement of Principles.  Please have your parishes, men’s or women’s groups, Knights of Columbus Councils — every organization you can think of — sign the statement.  This is very important — legislators are trying to get a sense of the depth of  feeling in their districts on this issue, and are paying attention to how many groups sign the statement.
  • Contact Majority Leader Skelos, to thank him for his strong public statements against the bill.  These messages can be sent through the Catholic Action Network.  By the way, just to give you an idea, almost 3,000 “thank you” emails have been sent to Sen. Skelos — just in the last few days.  Our voices are being heard!
  • Continue to contact our own elected officials, and write letters and op-eds for our local newspapers and other media outlets.  You can get information about local media outlets through the Catholic Action Network (click on “Media Guide”).
  • Keep people informed.  It’s vital that we counter the misleading statements by abortion activists about this proposal (e.g., that it would merely codify existing federal law and thus have no effect on the general availability of abortion).   There is a wealth of information on the websites of New Yorkers for Life, the New York State Catholic Conference, and this blog.
  • We are entering the home stretch for this legislative session.  This bill can be defeated.  Now is the time to renew our commitment to defend human life, and to call upon Almighty God for the grace we need to do His will.

    Philippians 4:13 says it all — “I can do all things in him who strengthens me.”

    What Stands Between Us and Gosnell?

    Monday, April 29th, 2013

    You can’t expect the Times to cover abortion stories fairly, but it shouldn’t be too much to ask them to read legislation and report it correctly.  Once again, though, they fail even that basic test of journalism.

    To their credit, the Times reported today on Live Action’s latest video expose of the ugly practices of an abortion clinic in the Bronx.  And ugly it was — callous, heartless, and openly admitting that they murder live-born babies.  But of course, that’s what abortion is, all the time, every day.  It’s remarkable that the Times has finally taken some small notice of that fact.

    Unfortunately, the Times then went on to give a distorted and bizarre description of the Reproductive Health Act, the bill being pressed by the Governor and the abortion industry here in New York.  The Governor has been keeping the details of his bill under wraps, but there is an actual bill already in the Legislature, and no matter which one finally moves forward, this description by the Times is far off the mark:

    “Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, a Democrat, has thrown his support behind legislation that will guarantee a woman’s right to an abortion after 24 weeks of pregnancy, if her health is in danger or if the fetus is not viable. The current law permits abortion after 24 weeks only if a woman’s life is in danger, although it is not enforced because federal court rulings have allowed less restrictive late-term abortions.”

    That would imply that RHA is only going to make minor adjustments to current New York law, to bring it into line with Supreme Court precedents.  But RHA goes far beyond that.  It would revolutionize our law, establishing abortion as a pre-eminent right that will be virtually immune from regulation, and enshrining New York as a wide-open territory for the abortion industry to do whatever it wants. It could be called the “Welcome Kermit Gosnell Act”.

    RHA would define abortion as unqualified “fundamental right”, placing it on the same legal plane as the right to vote or political speech.  It would require that all regulations of abortion stand up to the highest standard of review by courts (“compelling state interest/strict scrutiny”).  This means that all the reasonable regulations of abortion we see in other states — parental involvement in abortion decisions by minors, full informed consent (including sonograms), limits on late-term abortions, bans on sex-selection abortions, etc. — would be virtually impossible in New York.

    It would also make abortion even more unsafe than it already is.  Currently, New York law permits only doctors to perform abortions.  RHA would instead permit abortions to be done by any “qualified, licensed health care practitioner acting within the scope of his or her practice”.  This term isn’t defined in the RHA, but it could include any health worker that the New York State Health Department feels like certifying, without any further consultation with the Legislature or the people of our state.  In other words, if the abortion industry wants to have invasive surgery done by non-doctors, then RHA is the perfect bill for them — regardless of the health risks to women.

    Current New York law also requires late-term abortions to be done only in hospitals.  This is a common-sense safety requirement, since late-term abortions are inherently more risky for the mother.  It’s also necessary to give a baby born alive after an abortion medical assistance to sustain her life — which is already required in a provision of New York law that is obviously being flouted in that Bronx clinic, and, most likely, in others as well.

    RHA would eliminate this hospital requirement and allow post-viability abortions to be performed on an outpatient basis in storefront offices that lack the resources to address any threats to the woman’s life, and the specialized medical staff and equipment to provide life support to any baby who survives the abortion.  It would also re-define “viability” in a way that would eviscerate the current legal protection for born-alive babies — leaving it entirely up to the discretion of the abortionist whether to provide any care.  Anyone who watches the Live Action video, or who has followed the Gosnell trial, knows that this leads directly to infanticide.

    Here’s what’s most frightening about RHA.  New York already has a “wild west” atmosphere when it comes to abortion.  But this bill sends a signal to the New York abortion industry that they are a special, protected class, and that they don’t have to worry about oversight, or scrutiny, or consequences.

    Nobody can name a single abortion clinic in New York that has been closed or cited for health violations in years.  Freedom of Information requests have been made to state and city governments asking for information about inspections, but there has been no answer.  So, we have a city that spends millions inspecting restaurants and sellers of large carbonated beverages, but can’t seem to find any abortion clinics to inspect.

    If that’s not chilling enough, consider this. At a public hearing a few years ago, Christine Quinn, who is the Speaker of the City Council and front-runner for mayor, lauded a witness as a “hero” for all that she did for “women’s health” and “reproductive rights”.  That witness was the medical director at the “Dr. Emily” clinic visited by Live Action.  Just think about that — a late-term abortionist who is a “hero” to our most powerful politicians, and whose ordinary practice, according to her staff, is to kill live-born infants.

    The Grand Jury in the Gosnell case pointed out that a “pro-choice” political atmosphere in Pennsylvania discouraged regulation and oversight of the abortion industry, allowing that clinic to do its business for years under the radar.  Passing RHA in New York will only encourage even more of that kind of laissez-faire attitude in New York.

    No matter how the Times tries to downplay it, if RHA is passed, there is nothing that stands between New York and Kermit Gosnell — or those like him, who are already here, operating in secret.

     

    Clarity on the Reproductive Health Act

    Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

    It’s conceivable that some people had doubts about how much importance the Governor places on passing the radical abortion expansion plan, called the Reproductive Health Act.

    Any such doubts have now been clearly removed.

    The Governor appeared on a news show today and called repeatedly for “clarity” on this issue, and made perfectly clear his ardent support for legalized abortion with no restrictions.  Among his comments:

    “An issue like choice I do think is binary. Do you affirm Roe v. Wade? Are you pro-choice or not?”

    “You’re either pro-choice, or you’re not pro-choice. You should have a vote on the big ones. There should be a vote on choice. The women in this state have a right to know.”

    Since the Governor was insisting on a “right to know” about bills that he has not yet revealed, the reporter asked when legislators and the people would be able to see and evaluate the specific proposals.  He seized upon the reporter’s phrase, “the devil is in the details”, and made clear that he would press forward for a vote on the bills, despite objections about the unavailability of specifics.  He said the following:

    “Legislators sometimes don’t want to take the votes that will clarify: choice, corruption, public finance. Raise your hand! Yay or nay!”

    “Often times they don’t want the bill to come to the floor for a vote because they don’t want to take the position.  What we need to do is strip away the devil is in the details as just an excuse.”

    An interesting turn of phrase, “the devil is in the details”.  He surely is, when the details of the Reproductive Health Act include such evils as late term abortions with no legal limitations, non-doctors performing surgical abortions, risky late-term abortions being done in stand-alone clinics and not hospitals, threats to freedom of conscience, more wounded and hurt men and women, and a likely increase in the 100,000+ abortions that already take place in New York.

    This episode has certainly added some “clarity” to the debate over the Reproductive Health Act.  It’s now even more clear that there’s a grave danger that this radical bill will be pushed through the Legislature, and that the Culture of Death will further advance in our State.

    Join in Prayer for Life

    Friday, April 12th, 2013

    In his great encyclical, The Gospel of Life, Blessed Pope John Paul emphasized that the struggle to promote a genuine culture of life has to be fought on several fronts.  We are certainly called to defend life in the public square, to resist any law that fails to respect the basic human right to life.  This aspect of the pro-life cause tends to gain the most attention, but it is actually not the most important way in which we seek to transform our culture.

    The most important ways to build a culture of life is to serve those in need, and to celebrate life, particularly through prayer.

    And so, on Monday April 15, at 5 p.m., in the midst of the ongoing battle to prevent the New York State government from enacting the radical Reproductive Health Act, we will travel to Albany once again.  Our aim this time is not to lobby our legislators, to offer reasoned arguments against the expansion of abortion.

    This time, we are making our pilgrimage to Albany to join in the Candlelight Vigil for Life, sponsored by the new coalition, New Yorkers for Life, of which the Church is a member.  This is not a political event.  Our aim is to join in prayer.  We will pray for healing for those whose lives have been harmed by abortion.  We will pray for conversion in the hearts of our Governor and legislators.  We will pray that they will turn their paths away from this immoral and unjust law.  And we will pray for courage and assistance for all those who are vulnerable to abortion.

    If you are able, perhaps you can make travel to our state’s capital to join us.  If you can’t maybe you can pause for a few minutes from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m, to be in solidarity with us in prayer.

    Our society is deeply wounded by a lack of respect for life.  There are millions of people who have been wounded by offenses against life.  Our world needs healing, which only God can provide.  We will pray on Monday for that healing, for conversion of hearts, and for a transformation of our culture.

    Why We Continue to Resist the Reproductive Health Act

    Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

    One of the arguments that we are hearing from proponents of the Reproductive Health Act — a proposal that would expand abortion in New York even beyond its current abominable levels — is that the bill is nothing more than a “mere codification” of federal law.

    There are many problems with this “mere codification” argument.  First of all, it is factually false.   The Reproductive Health Act (both the actual one introduced in the Legislature, and any one that is likely to be introduced as part of a “Women’s Equality Act”) would significantly expand abortion.  For my explanation of how it would do so, check out my previous blog posts.

    We also resist this measure because it is a distraction from an authentic women’s public policy agenda — easier adoption laws and procedures, better access to day care, full funding for programs that offer alternatives to abortion, etc.  Abortion already hurts women, men, and society — and the Reproductive Health Act will make the problem worse.

    But even more fundamental to our opposition to the bill is the understanding that current federal law on abortion is evil.  It is a terrible injustice, it is a deplorable violation of basic human rights, and it is an ugly stain on our society’s character.  We cannot accept or even obey such laws.  We have “a grave and clear obligation to oppose them by conscientious objection” (Pope John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae 73).  Those who formulate our laws have a special obligation to protect the helpless, and anyone who engages in propaganda in favor of such a law or votes for it is committing a sin against justice and the common good (U.S. Bishops, Catholics in Political Life).

    Anyone who doubts where the expansion of abortion will lead, needs to consider two recent incidents.  The first is the trial of the abortionist Kermit Gosnell, whose late-term abortion clinic was a chamber of horrors.  The testimony at trial is a catalog of inhumanity, in the the casual violence and degradation of abortion as it is actually practiced in the real world.

    If the Reproductive Health Act is passed, non-doctors would be permitted to do abortions, and risky late-term procedures will be done at non-hospitals — and we should not be surprised if a Gosnell-like event takes place here.

    The second is the testimony of a Planned Parenthood flack, at a legislative hearing in Florida.  The lobbyist was opposing a proposal that would grant legal protections to any baby who is born alive during the course of an abortion.  Under questioning, she refused to acknowledge that the newly-born living child should automatically be given health care, and insisted that it would all be left up to the mother and the doctor — in other words, that a “post-birth abortion” would be an acceptable alternative.

    Now, we all know that Planned Parenthood is a deeply evil organization, and nothing should surprise us from them.  But this incident, together with the Gosnell story, highlights the inevitable effect of abortion on everything it touches — life is devalued, morality is debased, people’s hearts are hardened, and the medical and legal professions are corrupted.  Passing the Reproductive Health Act would only add to this de-evolution of our our civilization, deeper into a Culture of Death.

    We need to see abortion law, and the Reproductive Health Act, for what it really is.  And we need to take to heart what Pope Francis said the other day on his Twitter feed:

    We must not believe the Evil One when he tells us that there is nothing we can do in the face of violence, injustice and sin.

    We will continue to resist the Reproductive Health Act, or any similar measure that would “merely codify” the injustice of abortion in our laws.  Join the effort!

    What Ever Happened to “Safe”?

    Monday, March 4th, 2013

    For a long time, apologists and advocates for legal abortion liked to say that they believed that abortion should be “safe, legal and rare”.

    Well, we know that they’ve given up on “rare”.  And they certainly are unconditionally committed to “legal”.

    But it’s astonishing that they now seem to have given up on “safe”.

    Consider two elements of the proposed “Reproductive Health Act”, which is being treated by the pro-abortion movement as their Holy Grail legislation.

    Currently, New York law permits only doctors to perform abortions.  That’s a reasonable, common-sense provision that has been the law for many decades.  Until recently it was the law across the United States, and it has never been called into question by a court on constitutional grounds.

    The Reproductive Health Act would remove that section of the law, and instead permit abortions (prior to the third trimester) to be done by any “qualified, licensed health care practitioner acting within the scope of his or her practice”.  This term isn’t defined in the RHA, but it is defined elsewhere in New York law to include: doctors, physician assistants, chiropractors, dentists, physical therapists, nurses, podiatrists, optometrists, ophthalmic dispensers, psychologists, social workers, occupational therapists, speech pathologists and audiologists.  Thanks to that “scope of practice” clause in RHA, the decision to allow any of these persons to do abortions would be left entirely to the discretion of the New York State government, or private medical certification organizations — without any further consultation with the Legislature or the people of our state.

    So here’s the question: 

    How can it be “safe” to allow non-doctors, who have far less education, experience, and qualifications than physicians, to perform invasive surgery on women?

    A second troubling provision of RHA relates to late-term abortions.  Current New York law requires those procedures to be done only in hospitals.  This is another common-sense safety requirement, since late-term abortions are inherently more risky for the mother.  It’s also necessary to give effect to the current law that a baby born alive after an abortion must be given medical assistance to sustain her life.

    Instead, RHA would allow post-viability abortions to be performed on an outpatient basis in stand-alone clinics.   This is potentially very dangerous, since these clinics lack the resources to immediately address any threats to the woman’s life.   In many cases, the delay involved in calling an ambulance and transporting a gravely wounded mother can prove fatal.  Clinics also lack the specialized medical staff and equipment needed to provide neo-natal life support to any baby who survives the abortion.

    So here’s another question:

    How can it be “safe” to allow late-term abortions in facilities that lack emergency equipment and specialized staff that are needed to address grave threats to the lives of the mother and her child?

    This is where we are in the debate over legal abortion in New York State, thanks to the Reproductive Health Act.  And it leads us to ask another question:

    Is our society at the point where it’s so committed to maximizing the “legal” that it has given up on the “rare” — and is now sacrificing the “safe”?