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.