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.