Defending Infanticide is Now Pro-Abortion Dogma

February 26th, 2019

Yesterday, the United States Senate couldn’t muster enough votes to pass a bill banning infanticide. Yes, you read that correctly. A practice that in a civilized society would be unthinkable has become the latest bastion of pro-abortion dogma.

Here’s what happened. The Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act (S.311) was brought to the floor of the Senate by its sponsor, Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska. Because of the procedural rules of the Senate, it needed 60 votes to close debate (to end a purely theoretical filibuster). Everyone understood that this was not just a procedural vote, but was really a substantive vote on the bill itself. So a “yes” vote was to ban infanticide, and a “no” vote was against it.

In a normal world, a bill like this would pass unanimously. But that’s not the world we live in. Instead, the bill only got 53 votes. Every Democrat except three voted against it.

It’s particularly interesting to note what some of the Democrats said about the bill. Here’s Sen. Mazie Hirono of Hawaii: “That is the actual intent of this bill, reducing access to safe abortion care would threaten the health of women in Hawaii”. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire called the bill “the latest salvo in the far-right wing assault on a woman’s constitutionally protected right to an abortion”. Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia said that the bill is unnecessary since there’s already a federal Born Alive Infant Protection Act. And our own inimitable Sen. Chuck Schumer (who is also the Minority Leader) said that the bill “is carefully crafted to target, intimidate, and shut down reproductive health care providers.”

Strikingly, none of the Senate Democrats gave even passing recognition that what we are talking about is a living, breathing human being who has already survived the abortion and is completely outside of her mother’s body. She is at a very vulnerable state in life, completely dependent on others for the means to continue living. Instead of showing even a modicum of compassion, they have completely dehumanized that baby, all in defense of an unlimited right to an abortion. Correction — an unlimited guarantee of a dead baby.

It never ceases to amaze me to see the amount of ignorance, misinformation, and duplicity that comes out of the mouths of public officials. Let’s start with looking at the key parts of what the bill actually says:

§ 1532. Requirements pertaining to born-alive abortion survivors

“(a) Requirements for health care practitioners.—In the case of an abortion or attempted abortion that results in a child born alive:

“(1) DEGREE OF CARE REQUIRED; IMMEDIATE ADMISSION TO A HOSPITAL.—Any health care practitioner present at the time the child is born alive shall—

“(A) exercise the same degree of professional skill, care, and diligence to preserve the life and health of the child as a reasonably diligent and conscientious health care practitioner would render to any other child born alive at the same gestational age; and

“(B) following the exercise of skill, care, and diligence required under subparagraph (A), ensure that the child born alive is immediately transported and admitted to a hospital.

So it explicitly states that it only applies if a baby is born alive and the abortion is over. All it requires is that the doctor give the baby ordinary health care, the same care that would be given to any other patient. Perhaps I’m blind, but I’m not seeing anything “carefully crafted” to have any effect whatsoever on the health of the mother, access to abortion, intimidating abortionists, or shutting down clinics. Only through the bizarre lens of abortion ideology can anyone see such things.

You would also expect federal lawmakers to understand the basic nature of federalism. The federal Born Alive Infant Protection Act (Pub.L. 107-207) redefined the term “person” in federal statutes, regulations and administrative acts to include “every infant member of the species homo sapiens who is born alive at any stage of development”. The emphasis there is on the word ” federal“. That definition has no effect on state laws, which oversee virtually all abortions that take place in the United States. So it provides no protection to children born alive unless they’re lucky enough to be born on a military base or a VA hospital. This new Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act was specifically designed to expand the protections of that earlier law to include everyone, everywhere.

And here’s the thing that tells us a lot about where we are in our country, and where the Democratic Party has gone. The Born Alive Infant Protection Act passed both houses of Congress in 2002 virtually without opposition. It passed the House by voice vote and in the Senate by unanimous consent. Obviously, a lot has changed since then. Banning infanticide is no longer something on which there is a political consensus. That’s how far the Culture of Death has advanced.

One good thing may be coming from all of this. The abortion extremism that we’re seeing in actions like this, along with the passage of the New York abortion expansion bill and the movement on similar bills, is starting to have a positive effect on the culture. A new poll from Marist College, sponsored by the Knights of Columbus, shows that there has been an increase in the number of people who call themselves “pro-life”. The poll also showed that the vast majority of Americans (71%) oppose late-term abortions, including majorities of Democrats and independents, and that only 18% believe that abortion should be legal up until birth.

The poll didn’t ask how many people thought that babies born accidentally after an abortion should be left to die without receiving basic health care — maybe because until a few weeks ago it was unthinkable that anyone would believe that. Not only is it no longer unthinkable, it’s now the law in New York and the pro-abortion movement is obviously fully committed to making it legal everywhere.

The unthinkable has become the new pro-abortion dogma.

Legalizing Baby Selling

February 20th, 2019

The recent abortion expansion bill isn’t the final word on how our state government views babies to be commodities that can be bought, sold, or discarded. The Governor, when he submitted his annual budget last month, snuck in a bill that would legalize commercial surrogate parenting. That is to say, it would legalize baby-selling.

Way back in the 1990’s, when our present Governor’s father was in that office, New York State was a leader in banning commercial surrogacy. That move stemmed from the controversy over “Baby M”, a child conceived through surrogacy in New Jersey. Governor Mario Cuomo and the Legislature followed the unanimous recommendation of the Task Force on Life and the Law and banned the practice here in New York. It was clearly seen as an exploitation of women and degrading to human life.

But now the current Governor has broken with his father and has managed to get the Task Force on Life and the Law to reverse their earlier recommendation. Nothing has really changed. The dangers of surrogacy are still just as real as they were in the 1990’s, as a powerful minority report from Task Force members pointed out. But the majority of the Task Force was moved, it seems, by the desire to open up parenthood to same-sex couples. This is a terrible example of how a special interest group can influence public officials who are more concerned with counting votes and rewarding supporters, regardless of the dangers to the common good.

Those dangers are self-evident from the way that commercial surrogacy works. A contract is agreed upon between “intended parents” and the “gestational carrier”. The “carrier” is not related to the “parents”, and she will become pregnant with an embryo that has been created in a laboratory through in vitro fertilization (IVF). The egg and sperm aren’t necessarily from the intended parents — they can come from complete strangers.

The standard surrogacy contracts impose all sorts of obligations on the “carrier”, and there is a severe penalty if she doesn’t comply — if she violates any provision, she forfeits any payment under the agreement and has to reimburse the “parents” for any of their expenses. This could entail tens of thousands of dollars in penalties and lost income. Talk about coercion.

The contract specifies that the “carrier” will completely relinquish all parental rights upon the birth of the child. It also gives the “parents” the power to control virtually every aspect of the “carrier’s” life, subjecting her to medical oversight by a doctor chosen by the “parents” and restrictions on her activities, including, believe it or not, her sexual activities with her husband.

Even worse, the contract gives the “parents” complete discretion over whether the “carrier” will have an abortion, if the “parents” decide that the unborn child has a disability, or if it is a multiple pregnancy and they want to “reduce” the number. It is hard to believe, but it’s true — the “carrier” must submit to an abortion or pay a substantial financial penalty.

Funny how we’re not hearing the Governor shout about “her body, her choice”.  Instead it’s “have the abortion or pay up”.

The economic imbalance of these arrangements should cause outrage among supposed “progressives” and feminists. Low-income women are certainly going to be more attracted to enter into these contracts, and the costs of IVF and the surrogacy arrangement ensures that only high-income people could afford to be “intended parents”. The minority report of the Task Force did the math, and found that the average “carrier” would be earning below minimum wage for her efforts. So much for the “progressive” commitment to economic justice and ending inequality.

Our current laws still ban selling bodily organs, selling of babies, paying people to surrender parental rights, we set limits on payments to mothers giving children up for adoption. But this bill would shatter that consensus. I doubt it will stop here.

In other times, this would be seen as an appalling example of indentured servitude or even slavery, treating mothers and children as commodities to be bought and sold. Most countries, including all of Europe, have banned it as a violation of fundamental human rights. Developing countries have outlawed it because they don’t want their women being treated as mere incubators for rich Western “fertility tourists”. But here in the moral free-fire zone of America, it’s a supposedly enlightened practice celebrated by the media and vigorously promoted by gay rights groups.

By including this bill in his budget, the Governor has corrupted the democratic process through a raw exercise of power. In our dysfunctional governmental process, it is extraordinarily difficult for an item in the budget to be removed by the Legislature. And given the influence of “progressives” and gay rights groups in the Democratic party that controls the Legislature, there appears to be little interest in removing or even debating this dangerous proposal.

We can still try to hold back this measure, by contacting our legislators and urging them to oppose legalizing baby-selling. The New York State Catholic Conference has been leading this fight, and they have an alert in their Action Center that will allow us to send emails to our representatives. We also have more information on our website about the dangers of commercial surrogacy.

With this bill, as with the abortion expansion law, the Governor has also sent a signal to the world that in New York, morality is obsolete. There is no apparent concern for the exploitation of poor women. None for the babies thrown away through economically-coerced “fetal reduction”. None for the “excess embryos” trapped in frozen limbo through IVF. None for the children who will be separated from their birth mother and perpetually confused by the question of who their parents really are.

Powerful, influential and wealthy people want to buy babies, and our state government is going to open up the market place.

No Justice for Unborn Victims

February 11th, 2019

The falsehoods about the radical new abortion law keep coming, only now they’re highlighted by an unspeakable tragedy.

Last week, in Queens, a man brutally attacked his girlfriend who was five months pregnant. He clearly targeted the unborn child in her womb, and the result was that the mother and child both died. Prosecutors first sought to bring charges against the man for criminal abortion, as well as for murdering the mother. But thanks to the Governor’s abortion expansion bill, the crime of abortion no longer exists in New York, so there will be no justice for that poor unborn child who was brutally killed.

This should shock the conscience of everyone. 38 states, the District of Columbia, and the federal government already authorize a criminal prosecution for killing or harming an unborn child. New York is the outlier on this — even super-liberal California has a law that protects unborn children from violence. But not here. We’re the radicals now.

Abortion advocates display either appalling ignorance or disingenuousness when they reply to the outrage over the new law’s decriminalization of murder. For example, one of the sponsors of the Reproductive Health Act recently opined that “Physical assault resulting in the loss of pregnancy qualifies as first-degree assault”.

Do they even read the law before making those kinds of ridiculous statements? The offense of Assault in the First Degree, Penal Law 120.10, requires that “serious physical injury” be caused to a “person”. Since an unborn child is not a “person” in New York law, you would have to prove that the assault caused that kind of grave injury to the mother. But there’s no way that a forced miscarriage could possibly qualify under the definition of “serious physical injury”. Penal Law 10.00(10) defines that as “physical injury which creates a substantial risk of death, or which causes death or serious and protracted disfigurement, protracted impairment of health or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any bodily organ.”

You don’t have to be a lawyer to see that an attack on an unborn child doesn’t fit that definition. So it’s no accident that there is no reported case of any prosecutor in New York ever bringing a charge like that for an attack on an unborn child. That’s because the bill sponsor’s claim is nonsense, and she just doesn’t want to admit the fatal flaw in her bill.

It also isn’t good enough to say that “oh well, he’ll be prosecuted for murdering the mom so that’s enough punishment”. Would it be enough to say that the Parkland murderer should only face one charge, instead of being held responsible for killing each and every one of those children? Or should we now revise the 9/11 memorial in lower Manhattan to erase the unborn children who died in that attack? Aren’t those children mourned by their parents and relatives just as much as anyone else who died?

Not only that, but there are many instances where an assault on the unborn child results in no injury to the mother, but death to the child. Just last year, a doctor was sentenced to 20 years in prison for using an abortion pill to cause the death of an unborn child. A quick Google session found several other instances in the last few years in which a man secretly gave a pregnant woman the abortion pill in an effort to kill the unborn child. One of them took place right here in New York in 2014.

None of these men could be prosecuted in New York now, because the pills didn’t cause any kind of injury to the mother. So these kinds of criminals are now being given a free shot at hurting or killing an unborn child — one who is wanted by her mother.

Fixing this should be a ground ball. It has nothing to do with affecting legalized abortion in any way. Every version of an Unborn Victims of Violence Act that’s been offered here in New York makes that clear. The amendments that were offered before the Reproductive Health Act was passed also made that clear. But the pro-abortion ideologues who pushed the Governor’s bill are unwilling to budge an inch from their refusal to recognize any intrinsic value in the life of an unborn child. For goodness sake, even Roe v. Wade recognized the legitimate state interest in protecting the life of an unborn child, particularly after viability. Why can’t the pro-abortion movement even give a bit of legal recognition and protection to babies that are wanted by their mothers?

That voice you hear is from a baby who was brutally killed in her mother’s womb in Queens. She cries out to God for justice. There is none for her in New York.

The Truth About Late Term Abortions

February 6th, 2019

In the wake of the passage of the abominable Reproductive Health Act here in New  York, and the move to pass similar bills in Virginia, New Mexico and Rhode Island, abortion advocates and apologists have turned on the fog machine to hide the truth. That’s because the truth is horrifying.

They have been claiming that late-term abortions are rare, that they are only done for desperate reasons like imminent fetal demise, that the bills do not legalize abortion up until the moment of birth, that a live birth in the course of an abortion never happens, and that in any event that would not constitute infanticide.

All of these claims are false.

According to a study from the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute, approximately 1.3% of all abortions are done after 21 weeks. Since they estimate the total number of abortions to be about 900,000, that means that every year, about 12,000 abortions take place after the time that a child can feel pain and has a chance to live outside of the womb. Can something that happens as much as 12,000 times a year be called rare?

Let’s put that in context. There were about 14,000 firearm homicides in the US in 2016, according to the CDC. I doubt that anyone considers gun violence to be “rare”. Consider also that there were 35 people killed in school shootings in the United States in 2018, and that is typically called an “epidemic” or a “wave” in the media. There were about 350 people killed in 2018 in what are called “mass shootings” (incidents that involve multiple victims).

All of these acts of violence are deplorable tragedies that get a great deal of media attention. But the 12,000 late-term abortions are invisible by comparison. They’re not “rare”. They’re being ignored.

Late term abortions are also not being done only in the so-called “hard cases” of severe fetal disability or to preserve the mother’s life or health. The pro-abortion Guttmacher institute published an academic study in 2013 that concluded this: “data suggest that  most women seeking later terminations are not doing so for reasons of fetal anomaly or life endangerment”. Rather, the most common reasons for delaying until the third trimester were not recognizing the pregnancy, difficulty in making the decision to abort, disagreeing with the father of the child, not knowing where to get an abortion, difficulty getting to an abortionist, and financial difficulties.

This is not to minimize the struggles of the women who have late-term abortions, or those who are facing the tragedy of adverse diagnoses of their baby. But let’s make sure we’re telling the truth — most late term abortions have nothing to do with “hard cases”, they really are just delayed birth control. And this new law permits that and does nothing to prevent it.

As for whether the RHA legalizes abortion up until birth for pretty much any reason, all you have to know is how the Supreme Court defines “health of the mother”, which is one of the acceptable reasons for a late abortion under the law. It’s defined as “all factors — physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman’s age — relevant to the well-being of the patient” ( Doe v. Bolton, the companion case to Roe v. Wade). There is nothing that wouldn’t fit within that definition, especially since the decision is made between the mother and the doctor who’s been hired to kill the baby.

The idea of a baby being born alive during the course of a late-term abortion has also been derided. But academic studies from Europe have estimated that the number of children who survive an abortion after 23 weeks is almost 10%, and the number rises the later the pregnancy progresses. Since there’s no reason to think that we’re any different from Europe, that means that as many as 1200 babies may be born alive in the United States during the course of a late abortion – babies that could potentially survive with basic medical care.

One study revealed that some babies born after a post-22 week abortion lived as long as 270 minutes, with a median of 66 minutes.  The studies show that such babies are routinely abandoned to die of neglect, often suffering in pain as they struggle to continue living. And this could be going on in hospitals where, right down the hall, heroic efforts are being made to save preemies in the neo-natal intensive care unit.

This is infanticide by any reasonable definition of the word. In the ancient world, it was common practice to kill unwanted children by exposure — leaving them out in the open to die. It is just as much a murder to leave a helpless child to die without ordinary medical care as it is to strangle her or dismember her. One of the great social accomplishments of Christianity in its first few centuries was the eradication of this abhorrent practice. We are reverting to barbarism.

We often read heart-breaking stories of children who die of neglect by their parents. Those stories are usually front-page news and result in calls for drastic legal reforms and interventions. The aborted live babies die in silence, ignored and invisible.

There’s no doubt that we will continue to see op-eds in the Times by the Governor and other pundits, “fact-check” articles put out by major media outlets, and “spin” being  pitched by TV talking heads. But the truth about late-term abortion is out there, and it really is horrific.

Here’s What the New Abortion Law Really Says

January 30th, 2019

We are frequently questioned or challenged to substantiate the arguments that we have been making about the effect of the Reproductive Health Act. People keep asking us to show them “where in the bill does it say that”?

Here is a detailed explanation of how the bill (now the law) does precisely what we have accused it of doing. The language of the bill is in italics, followed by the legal analysis.

§ 2599-aa. Policy and purpose. The legislature finds that comprehensive reproductive health care is a fundamental component of every individual’s health, privacy and equality. Therefore, it is the policy of the state that:

1. Every individual has the fundamental right to choose or refuse contraception or sterilization.

2. Every individual who becomes pregnant has the fundamental right to choose to carry the pregnancy to term, to give birth to a child, or to have an abortion, pursuant to this article.

The term “fundamental right” is extremely significant. This language incorporates the constitutional law principle that “fundamental rights” cannot be regulated except for compelling state interests and in the most narrow way possible. Virtually no regulations of abortion survive this “strict scrutiny” standard.

3. The state shall not discriminate against, deny, or interfere with the exercise of the rights set forth in this section in the regulation or provision of benefits, facilities, services or information.

This language poses a direct threat to religious freedom and conscience rights. It gives the state the authority to deny licenses to individuals and institutions that do not provide or cooperate with abortion.

§ 2599-bb. Abortion. 1. A health care practitioner licensed, certified, or authorized under title eight of the education law,

To understand the significance of this, you have to understand that the Education Department oversees all the licensed professions like doctors, physician assistants, nurses, and others. So this provision authorizes the Education Department to permit non-doctors to do abortions and to set the limits on what they can do. So it’s entirely in their discretion to allow non-doctors to do surgical abortions like early suction aspiration abortions – where a vacuum is inserted into the womb and the baby is sucked out, often being dismembered in the process of being killed.

acting within his or her lawful scope of practice, may perform an abortion when, according to the practitioner’s reasonable and good faith professional judgment based on the facts of the patient’s case:

This means that the application of this law is entirely in the discretion of the abortionist. Since there are no penalties for violating the law, this standard is meaningless.

the patient is within twenty-four weeks from the commencement of pregnancy, or

This means abortion on demand for any reason at all for the first twenty-four weeks of pregnancy, including times when the infant has a heartbeat (about eight weeks), and can feel pain (about twenty weeks).

there is an absence of fetal viability, or

This term is undefined in the law, meaning that it is entirely up to the abortionist to determine the application of the law, with no third party (e.g., another doctor) having to concur. The doctor can therefore decide that an infant isn’t “viable”, for example, because she has a developmental problem that would require medical treatment for her to survive – in other words, virtually any kind of disability.

the abortion is necessary to protect the patient’s life or health.

This is the heart of the matter. This term “health” has been defined by the Supreme Court as meaning “all factors — physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman’s age — relevant to the well-being of the patient” ( Doe v. Bolton, the companion case to Roe v. Wade). In effect, it means any reason whatsoever, if the woman and the abortionist consider it relevant to her emotional or psychological or family health. Notice also that the bill considers only the mother to be a “patient”. The unborn child is a target.

§ 3. Section 4164 of the public health law is REPEALED.

This provision repeals the law that gave full civil rights protection to a child born accidentally in a post-twenty-week abortion, required that such abortions be done in a hospital, and that a second doctor be available to provide care to the infant. By repealing it, the bill guarantees that the infant will receive no care and will be allowed to die untreated. After all, the infant isn’t the doctor’s patient – just the mother. And the doctor has no obligation to provide treatment that he considers futile. And in the end, the entire purpose of the abortion is to produce a dead baby, so this part of the bill guarantees that.

§ 5. Sections 125.40, 125.45, 125.50, 125.55 and 125.60 of the penal law are REPEALED

This provision repeals all the criminal statutes that would penalize illegal abortions. It thus would prevent a serious criminal prosecution for a direct attack on the unborn child, an abortion by an unlicensed person (the “back-alley” practitioner), and a coerced abortion.

Many of the advocates for this bill – including the Governor and other elected officials – continue to spread falsehoods and deny what it really does. So let’s turn the question around on them. Take our worst-case scenarios, and ask, “where in the bill does it prohibit that?” The fact is, there is absolutely nothing in the bill, or the state of the law after its enactment, that would prohibit any of these following things.

  • Abortion up until the moment of birth for any reason – because of the broad definition of “health” that could include virtually anything the mother and the abortionist want it to mean.
  • Non-doctors doing surgical abortions (e.g. vacuum aspirations) – because it repeals the physician-only provision of the old law and leaves it entirely up to the Education Department to decide who can do abortions.
  • Pharmaceutical abortions prescribed online (the term is “telemed”) – again, because the scope of practice of the abortionist is entirely in the discretion of the Education Department.
  • New York becoming an abortion destination – because we will be one of the few states in the nation that permits late-term abortions for any reason without any regulation.
  • Aborting an infant with a disability who would need medical care to survive out of the womb – because of the vagueness of the term “viability”, and also because of the broadness of the term “health”.
  • Not treating an infant born alive accidentally – because it repealed the law that granted legal protection to such children, and because abortionists are not going to treat the child that they were in the process of killing in the womb moments earlier.
  • Prosecutions of non-licensed persons performing abortions (the old “back-alley” abortion) – because prosecuting the offense of practicing medicine without a license is up to the discretion of the Education Department and the Attorney General, and it’s very unlikely that New York’s staunchly pro-abortion government is going to do much about this.
  • An attack on an unborn child that does no harm to the mother but causes a miscarriage – because the unborn child is not a “person” under our law, the only possible crimes to prosecute might be misdemeanor assaults on the mother, a woefully inadequate remedy for such a heinous offense.

Much has been made of the idea that this bill only “codified Roe v. Wade“. But here’s what the Supreme Court actually said in Roe:

With respect to the State’s important and legitimate interest in potential life, the “compelling” point is at viability. This is so because the fetus then presumably has the capability of meaningful life outside the mother’s womb. State regulation protective of fetal life after viability thus has both logical and biological justifications. If the State is interested in protecting fetal life after viability, it may go so far as to proscribe abortion

This new law rejects the idea that the state has any interest whatsoever in protecting the life or health of an unborn child at any stage, much less the time when the baby can survive outside of the womb. That is a gross dereliction of one of the fundamental duties of any government, and it marks a return to barbarism.

That’s what the law says.  It is perverse to claim otherwise.

The Battle is Far From Over

January 25th, 2019

The catastrophic enactment of the Reproductive Health Act has left pro-lifers, both in New York and beyond, feeling numb, angry and dispirited. The bill legalizes abortions up until the moment of birth, allows non-doctors to do abortions, removes any legal penalty for a domestic violence attack against an unborn child, and eliminates protections for babies born accidentally in an abortion. Perhaps the better name for the law is the “Guaranteed Dead Baby Act”.

It was the most devastating defeat for the pro-life cause in New York since the original legalization of abortion in 1970 and the failure to repeal the law in 1972. It came at the end of twelve years of fighting, in which we were able to hold off the passage of various versions of the law, including one specifically drafted by the Governor’s office and slipped into his budget. But after last fall’s election, which swept away the GOP control of the Senate, the passage of the bill was foreordained.

We never gave up – our bishops issued strong statements of opposition, we sent information to our parishes, our allies in the Evangelical churches fought hard, and about 40,000 emails were sent to the Legislature through the Catholic Conference’s Action Center. But elections have consequences. If it wasn’t clear before, it certainly is now. This is what happens if Catholics, other Christians, and all good people fail to make life a priority in their voting decision. And that means voting only for pro-life candidates and refusing to vote for anyone who favors legal killing of unborn children.

The injury was compounded by the insult of Governor Cuomo’s celebratory mood, climaxed by his decision to have state facilities lit up in pink to mark the passage of the bill. The obscenity of that decision is best seen in the lighting of the Freedom Tower’s pinnacle in pink. Remember, the Freedom Tower is built on a grave – the last resting place for the victims of 9/11, which included several unborn children. Every day in the United States, more children are aborted than the number of people who were murdered on 9/11. The Governor took a war memorial that belongs to all Americans, and perverted it into a beacon of the Culture of Death.

But the battle is far from over. The pro-abortion advocates who pushed for this horrific bill are powerful, rich and arrogant. They think we’re going to give up or that they can force us to conform, but they’re seriously mistaken. We will never stop working to create a Culture of Life and Civilization of Love. So what do we do now? Here are some thoughts.

The real question of abortion is not up to any legislature or governor. It will be decided one pregnancy at a time. The pro-abortion message relies on fear of all kinds — losing autonomy or lifestyle, the opposition of families, abandonment by the baby’s father, and so on. Every pregnant woman’s situation is unique, and we must be ready to respond to them as individuals, not as puppets in a political theater, and help them through their fears to hope and joy.

This is where our pregnancy assistance programs are so important. We clearly need to make a massive new investment in supporting pregnant moms and post-natal moms and babies. We have many great pregnancy support initiatives. One example is the wonderful Mother Theresa Home in Buffalo. Another is the Visitation Mission of the Sisters of Life. There are many, many more.

These pregnancy centers are in the cross-hairs of the pro-abortion movement, which desperately wants to shut them down. After all, they can’t handle it if women actually hear the truth and feel the love of people who will support a decision for life. The Supreme Court recently upheld the free-speech rights of  pregnancy centers, but they didn’t resolve the issue definitively. We expect further legislative and enforcement threats to the centers, so we have to be ready to defend them.

That leads to another key issue – the protection of religious liberty and conscience rights. Our resistance to abortion is grounded in the truth. We can never compromise with lies, and we can never permit anyone to force us to accept them. New York already has robust anti-discrimination protections for people who oppose abortion for religious or moral reasons. But people don’t know their rights and the government isn’t going to tell them. A major publicity campaign has to be undertaken to ensure that people know that they don’t have to knuckle under to the pressure to cooperate in abortion, and that they can’t be punished for their religious beliefs. This can lead to a wonderful legal irony – filing complaints and making our hostile state and local governments enforce the anti-discrimination laws to protect us.

We also have to keep our eyes open for the next big pro-life battle front – this time, at the other end of life. We are not a one-issue movement that only cares about abortion. There is a serious, well-funded and relentless effort to legalize assisted suicide and euthanasia, and they have set their sights on New York. This battle has been going on for a while, but it’s going to move to center stage now.

This is a spiritual battle, not just against political adversaries but against the powers and principalities (see Eph 6:11-18). On the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Cathedral of St. Patrick was filled for a Holy Hour and Mass for life. The Holy Spirit uplifts us, even in our dark hours, and nothing can prevail against Him. We have to convert our anger against this bill and its supporters into prayer. Remember what Jesus told us: “In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

The rich and powerful people in our society like to call themselves “the resistance” because they oppose the President and march wearing silly hats. But they’re just oligarchs in exile who want to recapture power. We are the real resistance. Our goal is not power, but conversion of heart for those who are appalled by injustice. Our message is “come, join us”, and not “we will force you to agree”. The most important tactic is our willingness to testify to the truth by our words and our actions, and our refusal to cooperate with injustice and lies.

We are in the epicenter of the Culture of Death, so if anyone really wants to fight it, this is the place. It’s easy to be pro-life in the deep red states, where they’ve already enacted every pro-life law imaginable and there are few abortion clinics. If you want to go where the action really is, come to New York.

We will never give in to the Culture of Death. We need to keep on our lips the brave words of the prophet Daniel when he stood up against the powerful people who wanted him to conform: “Be it known to you, O king, we will not serve your gods or worship the [pink] image which you have set up” (Daniel 3:18). Amen to that.

On the Precipice of Abortion Expansion

January 10th, 2019

With the beginning of the new session of the New York State Legislature, we are now on the verge of having the most radical and extreme abortion law in the United States, if not the world. It’s the latest version of a bill that we have been fighting against for over a decade, the “Reproductive Health Act” (S.240/A.21). It’s more aptly called the “Abortion Expansion Act”.

The leaders of our Legislature, thanks to the wide majority of newly-elected Democrats, are totally committed to passing this bill as soon as possible. The Governor, whose appetite for abortion expansion seems to have no end, has pledged to have it pass this month and has even gone so far as to promise to have the New York State Constitution amended to enshrine abortion as a basic right. Barring a miracle, the bill will be signed into law later this month.

How much more abortion do our elected officials want? There were over 82,000 abortions reported in 2016 (the most recent official statistics). We already have highest abortion rate of any state —double the national average. Over 1,700 of these abortions took place at 20 weeks gestation or later – after a baby can feel pain. In over 2,600 abortions, the mother had at least five previous abortions. Do we really want even more of that suffering and death?

As New York is about to plunge even deeper into the Culture of Death, we must be very clear about what this bill would do:

It is designed to allow more late-term abortions — killing babies through all nine months of pregnancy.

The promoters of this legislation frankly admit that its main goal is to expand late-term abortion.  Current state law already permits abortions through 24 weeks of pregnancy for any reason whatsoever, but only after that if it is necessary to save a woman’s life.  This bill would permit a “health” justification for late-term abortions. But the term “health” has been interpreted by the Supreme Court to include pretty much anything related to a woman’s physical, psychological, emotional health, including things like age and economics.

In other words, it’s such a broad term that this bill will allow abortion for any reason whatsoever at any time during a pregnancy even up to the moment of birth.

It would allow non-doctors to perform abortions.

New York law right now is clear that only licensed physicians can do abortions. This bill would eliminate that requirement, by allowing the state government to permit other health care professionals to do abortions — which could include nurse practitioners, physician assistants, midwives, as well as other non-physicians. Let’s say that again so it’s perfectly clear — this bill would allow people to do surgical abortionswho haven’t gone to medical school, haven’t served as an intern, haven’t done a medical residency.

That’s how extreme this bill is. And that’s exactly the goal of the advocates — because so few doctors want to get involved in the grisly business of killing children, they want to expand the pool of potential abortionists.

It is designed to guarantee a dead baby.

Currently, New York law gives full legal protection to any child who might be born alive as the result of an abortion, which can happen during a late term abortion. It also requires that a second doctor be available during a late-term abortion to care to a child born alive. This bill would repeal these protections, leaving a child born alive at the mercy of the doctor and staff who were just minutes ago trying to kill her. We’ve seen how that turns out, thanks to the horrific Kermit Gosnell case from Pennsylvania.

How callous have we become that we are passing a bill that would permit – and even require – doctors to stand by and let a baby to die of neglect?

It will leave women and babies vulnerable to back-alley abortions and domestic violence.

This bill would completely decriminalize any kind of abortion. Currently, the crime of “abortion” is the only way to prosecute unlicensed abortionists, people who coerce women into having an abortion, and domestic violence attacks against pregnant women that are intended to harm the unborn child. These crimes happen all the time. Just last month a man in upstate New York was arrested after pushing his fists into the belly of a 26-week pregnant woman to try to cause a miscarriage. This bill would give him a free ride for such a heinous act.

At a time when violence against women is being given so much more scrutiny, how can our legislators be so blind as to pass such a bill?

It could compel health professionals and institutions to cooperate in abortions.

The bill declares that abortion is a “fundamental right,” and that the state may not “discriminate, deny or interfere with” this right. The result may be that doctors and other health providers may be required to perform or refer for abortions or risk losing their license to practice. This has happened in other countries and there’s no reason to think that it couldn’t happen here. Medical facilities, even religious ones, could be also be forced to allow abortions on site or risk fines, penalties, or loss of licenses.

So much for the “right to choose”.

What can we do about this?

First, please contact your legislator and urge them to reject this radical bill. The easiest way is to use the New York State Catholic Conference’s Action Center.

Second, we need to step up our efforts to support women who are pregnant and are at risk of choosing abortion. A wonderful example of this is the Sisters of Life Visitation Mission. We also need to reach out to the women who have had abortions and now need healing. Two great programs are the Sisters of Life Hope and Healing Mission and Lumina.

Third, we need to pray. For conversion of heart of our elected officials and advocates for abortion. For hope and support for pregnant women. For an increase in a culture of sexual purity and respect for the sacredness of every human life. For God to withhold his hand of judgment against our wicked society.

New York, and indeed our entire society, is on the precipice. In times past, society looked the other way when unwanted children were abandoned or killed. With this Abortion Expansion Act, we are reverting to a state of barbarism.

Anti-Catholic McCarthyism in the US Senate

January 4th, 2019

“Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?”

That notorious question was the hallmark of the infamous McCarthy era of American history. It was a time when there was legitimate concern about communist influence and Espionage in the United States. But that fear morphed into a kind of paranoia that resulted in virtual witch hunts that stigmatized legitimate political opinions and blacklisted people who refused to cooperate or whose names were given to the inquisitors. Fortunately, America regained its sanity, that period was soon over and – supposedly – its lessons were learned.

But paranoia never really goes away, it tends to look for new targets. We’re now seeing a resurgence of the McCarthy mentality in the United States Congress. But this time it’s dipping into the deep well of anti-Catholicism that has been a stain on American history since the colonial era. This new wave is fixated on Church teaching on sexuality and human life, particularly our adamant rejection of abortion, contraception, and sex outside of marriage. Those positions are considered by some of our political rulers as being beyond the pale, extreme positions that must be rooted out wherever they are found. I should note too that this prejudice isn’t limited to Catholics. It’s also being expressed against any Christian community that holds to traditional teachings on sexuality.

The trend is clear, and well-documented. It can be seen in questions that are being asked of nominees to the federal courts. Here are some examples:

  • In June 2017, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) submitted written questions to a District Court nominee about his personal views on issues of same-sex marriage and abortion in light of his membership in a conservative Anglican church.
  • In September 2017, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), citing the Catholic faith of a nominee to the Seventh Circuit, said that “the dogma lives loudly with in you, and that’s a concern.” At the same hearing, Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) asked the nominee “What’s an ‘orthodox Catholic’? … And do you consider yourself an ‘orthodox Catholic’?” Senators Mazie Hirono (D-HI) said “I think [an article written by the nominee] is very plain in your perspective about the role of religion for judges, and particularly with regard to Catholic judges.”
  • In March 2018, Senator Feinstein submitted written questions for the record to a nominee to the Seventh Circuit that noting his membership in the St. John the Cross Parish and asking about his involvement with the parish’s efforts to establish a crisis pregnancy center.
  • In May 2018, Senator Whitehouse submitted written questions for the record to a District Court asking about his affiliation with the Knights of Columbus.
  • In October 2018, Senators Feinstein, Whitehouse, Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Kemala Harris (D-CA) submitted written questions to a nominee to the Fourth Circuit asking about her involvement with Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian legal group.
  • In November 2018, Senator Feinstein submitted written questions to a nominee to the Third Circuit about his affiliation with the Knights of Columbus.
  • In December 2018, Senators Hirono and Harris asked a District Court nominee questions about his membership in the Knights of Columbus. Senator Corey Booker (D-NJ) also asked questions centering on an interview the nominee gave to an advocacy group closely identified with Evangelical Christians.

The offensive and dangerous nature of this trend can be seen in the last example. Senator Hirono’s questionnaire stated that “The Knights of Columbus has taken a number of extreme positions” and then proceeded to ask numerous questions about the Knights’ positions on abortion and same-sex marriage, implying that the nominee’s membership in the Order was sufficient alone to show that he was unable to be neutral. She also had the audacity to ask baldly, “If confirmed, do you intend to end your membership with this organization to avoid any appearance of bias?”

This is anti-Catholic McCarthyism, plain and simple. It is particularly disturbing that 8 of the 10 Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee have displayed such blatant prejudice. And it especially appalling that no prominent member of the Democratic Party has breathed so much as a word of disapproval. That silence is remarkable from the party that loves to display its horror at any hint of bigotry, and that prides itself on inclusiveness.

I don’t have to defend the bona fides of the Knights of Columbus. I am a proud member of the Order, but the Supreme Knight, Carl Anderson, said all that is necessary in his recent statement about this scandal.

Some hard questions need to be asked. Has it become dogma in the Democratic Party that membership in the Knights makes a person suspect?  Or has it become dogma in the Democratic Party that anyone who believes what the Catholic Church (and many other Christian communities) teaches and believes is no longer fit to hold public office?

The question being asked in the United States Senate – for now — is, ” Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Knights of Columbus?” Will it soon become, “Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Catholic Church?”

Religious Schools are Under Attack

December 14th, 2018

In the Seventeenth Century, the English philosopher Thomas Hobbes wrote his famous treatise Leviathan. Arguing that because man in the state of nature is inherently violent and unsociable, Hobbes proposed that the government was created to have unlimited power over its subjects. He rejected the notion of individual rights and separation of powers, instead resting all authority in a single absolute monarch.

The founders of our nation utterly rejected Hobbes’ approach to government, seeing from history and common sense that it would lead inevitably to tyranny and a suppression of individual natural rights. They built into our constitutional structure the strict separation of powers, checks and balances on each branch of government, respect for the freedom of non-governmental organizations, and strong protection of individual rights. They were trying to protect us from Leviathan.

Over the last century and a half, the constitutional barriers against the all-powerful state have been progressively eroding. Our federal and state governments have vastly expanded their authority over the lives of individuals and organizations. Enormous powers have been delegated to or seized by executive agencies that rule by decree and operate with virtually no effective oversight by legislatures, courts, or the people. This has been the source of unending political and legal conflict in numerous areas, including environmental and economic regulations, education, health care, and many others.

Leviathan has now focused its attention on religious schools here in New York, with the clear intention of either forcing them to submit to its authority or face destruction.

New York State law requires that non-public schools provide a “substantial equivalent” education to public schools. That term is undefined in the statute, which is always an invitation to mischief. Long-standing constitutional decisions recognize the right of parents to educate their children as they see fit, including the right to send them to religious schools of their choosing. For the most part, there have been few serious conflicts between these two legal principles. Until now.

Spurred by some complaints that Jewish yeshivas are not providing sufficient instruction in secular subjects, the State Education Department has now issued a decree that gives local public school boards broad power to inspect, oversee and intrude upon the independence of private religious schools. It would impose burdensome and costly requirements, such as a mandatory bilingual program and extended school hours. It would subject the curriculum and materials to government inspection and approval. It would even require private school teachers to be evaluated by the government. No objective standards are set out in the directives, leaving broad discretion in the hands of local school boards. Any private school that fail this inspection will be forced to close.

This would give local school boards virtually unlimited power over private religious schools. There is no protection against government officials who are hostile to religious schools or who just want to eliminate the competition. One can only imagine the kinds of curricula and materials that school boards could mandate – such as the wicked sex education required in the New York City public schools, which includes graphic instruction on sex and gender ideology as young as kindergarten.

There’s a name for schools that are subject to this kind of control by the government – public schools.

Private schools exist for a reason – parents don’t want to send their kids to public schools. Education is more than just lesson plans and test scores. Every school has a culture of its own that is a profound influence over the children. Religious schools reinforce the faith in every activity, including in the teaching of secular subjects. Moral values are taught not just by instruction, but by example. Religious parents want their kids to grow up in that kind of environment, not in the chaotic, dangerous and immoral atmosphere present in so many public schools. This is their natural inalienable right.

And make no mistake that Leviathan is very serious about bringing the private schools and religious parents to heel. Under this new plan, if a school fails the government scrutiny, parents will notified that “the students will be considered truant if they continue to attend that school.” In other words, if the parents don’t obey and send their kids to a public school, they would be subjected to a mandated report to state child protection authorities alleging “educational neglect”. That would lead to an incredibly intrusive investigation and the stigmatization of the parents as child abusers. It could lead to the child being removed from the home and put in foster care while the parents are prosecuted.

Leviathan does not brook opposition. There is always the iron fist behind whatever it does.

To their credit, the religious schools aren’t taking this sitting down. The New York State Council of Catholic School Superintendents, which represents 500 Catholic schools, wrote to state education authorities that it “rejects the recently released ‘substantial equivalency’ guidelines and is directing all diocesan Catholic schools not to participate in any review carried out by local public school officials.” In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, two leading rabbis, noting that there are over 440 yeshivas with over 165,000 students, emphasized that Jewish schools were the specific target this intrusion, and signaled that they too will resist.

Does anyone trust that the government will self-limit their exercise of this new-found power? That’s not how Leviathan works. These new rules would give Leviathan the authority to eliminate the very concept of independent private schools and to override the religious sensibilities of parents and school administrators. This is a grave violation of the natural right of parents and religious communities, and it must be resisted.

Can We Talk About War?

December 3rd, 2018

At today’s Mass, we heard Isaiah’s famous lines about the coming kingdom of God and the reign of the Messiah:

He shall judge between the nations,
and shall decide for many peoples;
and they shall beat their swords into plowshares,
and their spears into pruning hooks;
nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
neither shall they learn war any more. (Is 2:4)

So can we talk about war and peace in this age of ours, two thousand years after the coming of the actual Messiah?

We just survived a long and grueling national election campaign in what was called, with typical political hyperbole, “the most important election of our lives”. I follow politics pretty closely. I don’t recall much, if any, talk about war and peace during this allegedly monumental campaign. How strange, considering:

  • The United States is currently in our seventeenth year of war — by far, the longest period of war in our history — with no end in sight.
  • We are currently involved in armed conflict in seven countries: Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Lybia, Yemen, Somalia, and Niger. Our soldiers may also be involved in secret combat operations in several other African counties. We have combat troops and active military bases in many more nations as well.
  • The Defense Department estimates the cost of the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria at $1.5 trillion. The monthly cost is about $3.4 billion. Other estimates, which include projected future costs for veteran health care, have been as high as $5.6 trillion.  By way of comparison, the annual defense budget is about $700 billion.
  • The human cost of the wars — according to one estimate from Brown University, approximately 500,000 people have died in these wars, including about 6,300 US military members and contractors. This doesn’t include people who died due to indirect results of the conflicts or the millions of people who have been displaced from their homes.

There are many policy arguments we can have about the legitimacy and conduct of these wars. But our nation hasn’t had that discussion, and virtually none of our public officials seems interested in having it — on all sides of the political spectrum. It is truly bizarre, in a democratic nation at war, that it isn’t even on the political radar. Are these wars worth the cost? What policy goals are they pursuing? Are we doing more harm than good? Can those goals be achieved by other, non-military means? Aside from ritual incantations about “support the troops”, the silence is perplexing and troubling.

Can we also talk about the legality of the wars? Since Congress hasn’t declared war on anyone, the only legal leg for these wars to stand on is the Authorization for the Use of Military Force Resolution, passed by Congress in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. That resolution provides that “the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons…” Three Presidential Administrations have interpreted this to permit military operations against forces that not only had nothing to do with 9/11, but didn’t even exist at that time. The last Administration proposed an amended AUMF, but efforts by some Senators and Congressional representatives to open a debate about it have been consistently stymied by the leadership of both houses. Can we at least talk about this?

There have also been credible charges that war crimes and crimes against humanity are being committed in the Yemen war by Saudi and allied forces. America supports their war effort with intelligence and material, raising the question of whether the US is complicit in those crimes. There have been attempts recently in Congress to end US support for that war, but there is little hope that they will succeed. Is anyone talking about this?

It is vitally important that we have a serious debate about this. For pro-lifers, this is a critical issue. God cherishes every human life, regardless of nationality. We cannot be consistent or coherent in our defense of life unless we defend life everywhere. For Catholics, the need for the debate, and for our unique faith-based contribution, is even more essential. The Church has long been an eloquent advocate for peace. Pope Benedict and Pope Francis have been salient voices for an end to armed conflict. In his last Message for the World Day of Peace in 2013, Pope Benedict said,

[T]he Church is convinced of the urgency of a new proclamation of Jesus Christ, the first and fundamental factor of the integral development of peoples and also of peace. Jesus is indeed our peace, our justice and our reconciliation (cf. Eph 2:14; 2 Cor 5:18). The peacemaker, according to Jesus’ beatitude, is the one who seeks the good of the other, the fullness of good in body and soul, today and tomorrow. From this teaching one can infer that each person and every community, whether religious, civil, educational or cultural, is called to work for peace. Peace is principally the attainment of the common good in society at its different levels, primary and intermediary, national, international and global. Precisely for this reason it can be said that the paths which lead to the attainment of the common good are also the paths that must be followed in the pursuit of peace.

In this Advent season, we listen to the Prophet Isaiah and the other prophets in their longing for the coming of the Kingdom of God and the Prince of Peace. We have to remember that these are not just pious sentiments about “pie in the sky” someday in the distant future. Working for peace in our time is an essential part of the Gospel message of redemption, and is a specific obligation for every Christian to work tirelessly for it. We cannot stand by and do nothing while the world burns. We need to talk about war.