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!