Posts Tagged ‘Abortion’

The Supreme Court Nominee’s Error about Roe v. Wade

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2018

We are once again in the midst of the circus leading up to confirmation hearings for the new Supreme Court nominee. Judge Brett Kavanaugh is making the rounds of the Senate, speaking to the Senators who will consider his nomination, and seeking to woo some of the potential swing votes in his favor. It’s the standard ritual, with all the usual photo ops, pre- and post-meeting press comments, etc. Little of any substance usually comes of these things.

But today, something of significance came out of the meeting between the nominee and a Republican Senator who considers herself to be “pro-choice”. After the meeting, the Senator said that the nominee called the infamous Roe v. Wade decision to be “settled law”. Presumably this is an accurate account of their conversation, because neither the nominee nor his handlers have disputed the Senator’s account.

This is very unsettling to hear from a Supreme Court nominee. We have heard it before, and it is a clear indication that the nominee has no real interest in overruling Roe. Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Gorsuch both called Roe “settled law” during their own confirmation hearings, and Justice Alito has said that it has added strength as a precedent because it has survived prior challenges and people have come to rely on it.

This is a terrible way of thinking, and it fails to recognize the fundamental duty of a judge to do justice and to decide cases correctly. An unjust law, or one that is clearly wrongly decided, can never be considered “settled”. And there is no question that Roe v. Wade was wrong as a matter of morality and legal reasoning, and that it is profoundly unjust. Its progeny, Planned Parenthood v. Casey (which really is the controlling law now, not Roe), was also wrongly decided. Both of these cases ruled that there is an entire class of human beings who have no constitutional rights – they have been judicially defined as non-persons, in effect outlaws, and they can be subjected to violence and killing with impunity. It is deeply troubling that the nominee has signaled that he would uphold such a law.

The nominee likes to consider himself an “originalist”, meaning that he believes that the Constitution should be interpreted according to its original public meaning at the time of its ratification. Unfortunately, he doesn’t seem to understand that judges of that time would never have viewed a wrongly-decided case as “settled”. Instead, they would have understood it to be their duty to correct the injustice.

The giant of English legal thinking, William Blackstone, wrote that prior decisions are not controlling if they are “flatly absurd or unjust” or “contrary to reason”. In the words of an great American legal scholar, Chancellor James Kent, “If, however, any solemnly adjudged case can be shown to be in error, it is no doubt the right and the duty of the judges who have a similar case before them, to correct the error”. Throughout our history, the Supreme Court has overruled prior decisions when it is clear that they were wrong or poorly reasoned. Judge Kavanaugh’s originalism clearly is not in keeping with these “settled” legal principles.

In another interview with a Senator, the nominee declined to say whether he thought Roe and Casey were correctly decided. One can understand his reticence, given the politicization of the confirmation process. But his failure to take a stand is incoherent. To believe that a case is “settled law” necessarily means that one believes that it was correctly; if one does not believe that a case was correctly decided, then it cannot be “settled law”. The nominee’s failure to take a stand is simply illogical – it violates the Law of Contradiction (a thing can’t be both A and not-A at the same time) that even lawyers understand very well. In any event, the nominee’s non-position certainly does not show any burning desire to overturn Roe.

So what is the final significance of all this? I have long been certain that the Supreme Court is not going to overrule Roe any time soon. Only Justice Thomas has ever said that he would do so, and all the other “conservatives” are now all on record saying that they believe Roe to be “settled law” or binding precedent. So, regardless of the assurances and wishful thinking of his supporters, I don’t believe that the confirmation of Judge Kavanaugh brings us to the verge of Roe’s much-deserved demise.

That is not to say that I think Judge Kavanaugh will make things worse. I fully expect that he will show respect for the separation of powers and federalism, and that he will vote to permit states to have greater leeway in regulating abortion. That may begin the process of at least limiting the malign effects of RoeCasey. It may also contribute, in the long term, to the rebuilding of a culture of life in the law.

But in the meantime, the idea that the abortion decisions are “settled law” is an awful way of thinking, one that violates the fundamental duty of everyone – including judges – to do justice and act in accordance with the universal natural moral law. That law is “settled” – one may never deliberately take the life of an innocent person and the government has a solemn duty to ensure that all lives are protected from unjust violence.

Even More Gubernatorial Abortion Radicalism

Tuesday, August 14th, 2018

Just when you thought New York Governor Andrew Cuomo had gone about as far as he could in supporting extremist abortion laws and policies, he manages to find ways to go even more radical.

Last week, the Governor announced a new state-funded website that gives people information about how to get an abortion. In bold, large-font type with strange capitalization reminiscent of Twitter rants, his internet announcement invokes an approaching anti-abortion apocalypse in such exaggerated and hyperbolic terms that they would exceed the most generous Orwellian standards:

In Light of Widespread Reports that Crisis Pregnancy Centers Provide Misleading, Medically Inaccurate Information on Reproductive Services to Dissuade Abortion, Campaign Connects Women to Accurate Information on Options for Unintended Pregnancies, Including Abortion. Facing Relentless Federal Attacks on Reproductive Rights, Governor Cuomo Will Fight Back to Protect Women’s Access to Reproductive Rights and Continue to Call on Senate to Codify Roe v. Wade

These alleged “widespread reports” actually come from the Governor’s allies in the abortion industry, and he gladly parrots all of their propagandistic talking points. As for “relentless attacks”, those are only in the fervid imaginations of abortion zealots, whose company the Governor regularly keeps and who are happy to number him among the true believers by endorsing him for re-election.

Does anyone really believe there’s a lack of access to abortion in New York? My office did some research a few years ago and found over 40 places to get an abortion in the City of New York alone. Mr. Google is happy to provide an extremely long list of abortion clinics in New York State, just for the asking. A simple search yields over 22 million hits, some of which might not be a place to have a child killed, but an awful lot of them are, and some of them are even helpfully reviewed by Yelp.

The horrific official abortion statistics from the New York State Health Department put the lie to any claim that there is difficulty getting abortions in our state:

  • 86,627 – the total number of abortions in New York State in 2015 — more than two sell-out crowds at the Mets’ Citi Field.
  • 367 – the number of abortions per 1,000 live births in the state. In other words, over a quarter of all pregnancies in our state ends with an abortion.
  • 505 – the number of abortions per 1,000 live births in New York City. In other words, over a third of all pregnancies in the City ends with an abortion.
  • 1,038 – the number of abortions per 1,000 live births for African-Americans in New York City. So there are more abortions than live births among African-Americans.
  • 2,106 – the number of abortions in our state after 20 weeks — after the time when unborn children can feel pain. How much more inhumane can we be, than to dismember a living human being who feels the pain of it?
  • 2,854 — the number of abortions where the mother had already had at least 5 prior abortions.

Seriously, if those numbers don’t horrify you, or at least give you pause, then I fear for the state and fate of your soul.

The Governor’s attack on pro-life pregnancy centers is truly bizarre. His press flacks said, “We are launching this public awareness campaign to combat the insidious spread of misleading, medically inaccurate information about reproductive health and to ensure all New York women know the options they are legally entitled to.”

Insidious? Really? You mean when pregnancy center volunteers actually tell women the real facts about the stages of fetal development, the potential side-effects of abortions, and remind them that an abortion ends the life of a real human being? Horrors. Of course, they cite no actual evidence whatsoever that pregnancy centers pose a threat to anything, because there is none. Anyone who thinks that volunteer-run, shoe-string-budget pregnancy centers are some kind of massive stealth threat to women’s health has drunk too much pro-abortion Kool-Aid.

One can only assume that the people who write the Governor’s scripts haven’t seen the videos of women being taken from Planned Parenthood clinics in ambulances due to complications from abortions, or they didn’t read the recent stories of the doctor who pleaded guilty this year to killing a woman in a botched abortion. Or perhaps they didn’t ask the Governor how many abortion clinics his Health Department has inspected recently (because it’s virtually none) and how many unlicensed clinics they’ve shut down (absolutely none). They certainly have never interviewed the women who have been coerced into abortions, or who were the victims of sex traffickers or abusers who were never reported by abortion clinics. I guess they were too busy complaining about pregnancy centers to investigate the abuses of the abortion industry.

Or perhaps they have discerned certain truths that are embedded deep in their hearts, and are reacting angrily because they feel threatened in their distorted worldview. Perhaps they realize that if women are truly presented with their options, in a loving and supportive environment, they might actually choose not to have an abortion. Perhaps they’re afraid that women will reject the lie that they cannot fully participate in life if they have an inconvenient pregnancy. Perhaps they’re worried that more and more women will see that life is a beautiful gift, and that when we receive it generously we become better people.

The truth is a frightening thing, when you’re in the grip of a radical anti-life ideology.

The Idolatry of Abortion

Wednesday, July 18th, 2018

Once upon a time, people who called themselves “pro-choice” insisted that nobody is really in favor of abortion, but rather they see it as a sad necessity for women who are forced to deal with an unwanted pregnancy. We even heard from President Clinton – and the First Lady – that they thought that abortion should be “safe, legal and rare”. These attitudes reflected the ambivalence of ordinary Americans about abortion. While most people support legal abortion in some cases, most actually oppose it and would impose restrictions on it in most cases.

While the ambivalence of Americans remains, the reticence of abortion rights supporters is long gone. The leading lights of that movement are revealing their true beliefs that abortion is a positive good that is not to be regretted but rather is to be celebrated. We are at the point where there is a virtual idolatry of abortion, where it is seen as a sine qua non for the active participation of women in society.

The nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court has been the catalyst for an astonishing amount of overheated rhetoric about abortion. We’ve seen claims that his confirmation will lead to the deaths of women, and even the display of the mythical coat-hanger meant to evoke illegal and dangerous abortions that are supposedly just around the corner. The fear-mongering will undoubtedly get even worse once the Senate convenes its confirmation hearings.

The most notable practitioner of waving the bloody shirt has been our Governor. His devotion to legalized and unrestricted abortion is long-standing, and his preference for outrageous rhetoric is well known. This is the man who once said that pro-lifers “have no place in the state of New York, because that’s not who New Yorkers are.”

He is now on the campaign trail pushing for the State Legislature to return to Albany for a special session to “codify Roe v. Wade” in state law. He recently made the bizarre statement that “If Roe v. Wade is overturned, women lose their right to choose in the state of New York today”. He must expect that nobody will actually fact-check him and realize that he is just making things up. The reality is that New York already has one of the most liberal abortion laws in the nation, one that pre-dates Roe and which permitted thousands of abortions prior to Roe. Abortion is available on demand, for any reason whatsoever, at any time prior to 24 weeks of pregnancy, and afterwards if the life of the mother is at risk. Overturning Roe will have no effect whatsoever on that – the vast majority of abortions will still be legal in New York.

The only way that the Governor’s statement makes any sense is when we realize that Roe was the high-point of abortion jurisprudence. It legalized late-term abortion to preserve a woman’s health – a term the Supreme Court defined so broadly that it means any reason whatsoever – and it was used by courts to strike down virtually all regulations on abortion at any stage of pregnancy. So what the Governor is really advocating for is unrestricted abortion and particularly late-term abortions on demand.

And that’s precisely what the Governor’s own abortion expansion bill would do. Back in 2013, the Governor introduced a radical bill as part of his “Women’s Equality Act” that would: expand the availability of late-term abortions on demand; permit non-doctors to do abortions, including late-term abortions; virtually eliminate the ability of the State or local governments to regulate the practice of abortion; immunize from criminal prosecution any person who directly tries to cause the death of an unborn child (e.g., in a domestic violence incident); and severely limit criminal prosecutions of unlicensed “back-alley” abortionists (which is ironic, given all the rhetoric about going back to the days of illegal abortions). That’s not a “pro-choice” bill, it’s the abortion industry’s wish list.

The Governor has also made the deeply weird statement that he will sue somebody for something in some court somewhere if the Supreme Court overturns Roe, and that’s why he really needs the Legislature to pass his abortion expansion bill now. I must have missed the class in law school where that makes any sense at all. Perhaps when the Governor was in law school he missed the class where they taught that the Supreme Court is the highest court in the nation, that there is no appeal to another court from its rulings, and that lower courts cannot overrule a Supreme Court decision.

The Governor also doesn’t seem to realize that Roe v. Wade is no longer the controlling law when it comes to abortion. In 1992, the Supreme Court decided the case of Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which permitted much more regulation of abortion than Roe did. By expressing his preference for the Roe legal standard, the Governor shows that he is out of step with public opinion, which supports many limitations on abortions, especially late-term abortions, and that he wants New York to have the most extreme abortion law possible.

Our Governor is not the only one who is going to such extremes. Many pundits and leaders of the Democratic Party are just as far out there. This is becoming clearer and clearer, and by the end of Judge Kavanaugh’s Senate auto da fe, it will be undeniable.

Perhaps the clearest example of how the pro-abortion movement has come to idolize abortion took place on late-night television recently. An unfunny comedienne staged a bizarre and crude “Salute to Abortion” that celebrated the unlimited right to destroy unborn children. “Progressive” pundits applauded, and politicians who publicly recoil from every incontinent tweet from the President were nowhere to be found or heard from.

There’s a reason for that. The ideology of abortion has reached the point in certain precincts in America where its adherents have turned it into a virtual idol. This is why we must continue to oppose the Governor’s radical abortion bill, and any effort to extend legal protection to the killing of unborn human beings.

Realism about the Supreme Court and Abortion

Saturday, July 7th, 2018

The President is about to announce his nominee to fill the newly vacant seat on the Supreme Court. That will set off a bruising confirmation battle that will stretch into September at least. The rhetoric will be heated and likely ugly, and may even include a large dose of religious intolerance. As this maelstrom kicks off, it’s important that we have realistic expectations about what this will mean for legalized abortion.

It is a clear sign of the debasement of our American political society that so much energy and effort are going to be devoted to a Supreme Court nomination. The loss of a proper understanding of natural law and the dominance of a sense of moral agnosticism have left our government and courts without a moral and legal compass to guide them in interpreting and making civil law. The centralization of power in Washington, which was never envisioned by the Founders of our nation, has given the federal government and especially the courts a disproportionate control over public policy, when compared to the states. One consequence of this has been the constitutionalization of what should be political questions, as we have seen in the issues of abortion and marriage. Another consequence has been the increasing intrusion of politics into areas that are rightly protected personal liberties, such as the freedoms of speech, religion and association.

The worst consequence has been that the Supreme Court — and particularly the “swing vote” that was exercised by the retiring Justice Kennedy — has become our de facto ruler when it comes to essential questions of the separation of powers between the branches of government and crucial social issues relating to life, family and religion. It is truly bizarre that the last few weeks in June is a time of great anticipation, as the Supreme Court’s term comes to an end and we citizens passively wait for rulings that will define our lives. This is why I often derisively refer to the Court as our “Black-Robed Platonic Guardian Rulers” — a role that Washington, Hamilton and Madison would be horrified to see.

These trends are so deeply rooted that we have to have realistic expectations. None of the nominees to the Court will change this sorry situation. None will restore the correct separation of powers or the federalism that were built into our constitutional structure as a defense against the abuse of power. None will stop the trend of constitutionalizing political questions.

We particularly have to be realistic when it comes to the momentous issue of abortion. There is no question that Roe v. Wade decision was wrongly decided as a matter of morality and legal reasoning, and that it has had a corrupting effect on the law, the legal profession and the judicial confirmation process. It is imperative to see it and its progeny overruled (particularly Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which really is the controlling law now, not Roe), and for the constitutional rights of unborn children to be recognized and protected. But that isn’t going to happen any time soon, no matter who the President selects.

Regardless of who the nominee is, it is far from clear that that there would be enough votes on the Court to overrule Roe and Casey. Of the current judges on the Court, four are certainly never going to vote to overrule or even meaningfully limit abortion; only one, Justice Thomas, has ever said that he would vote to overrule; Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Gorsuch both called Roe “settled law” during their own confirmation hearings, and Justice Alito has said that it has added strength as a precedent because it has survived prior challenges and people have come to rely on it. So it’s not as if Roe and Casey are hanging by a thread and just need one more vote to be overruled.

It’s also important to understand that the “conservatism” of some of the Justices would suggest that they may actually shy away from overruling Roe and Casey, even if they believe that it was wrongly decided. Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito, and it would already appear Justice Gorsuch, have a strong tendency to minimalism in their rulings — deciding questions on the most narrow grounds available, and choosing, as Justice Alito once wrote, to “leave broader issues for another day.” You can see that trend in some of the major decisions of the last term, for example the Masterpiece Cakesdecision, where the “conservative” justices supported a narrow ruling and completely ducked the critical free speech issue.

This minimalism is particularly important when one realizes how deeply embedded Roe and Caseyare in Supreme Court jurisprudence. Roe didn’t spontaneously emerge fully formed from the brow of Justice Blackmun, nor did the infamous “mystery of life” passage in Casey come out of nowhere. They were the result of decades of prior decisions, reaching back to the 1920’s, in which the Court recognized or invented “privacy” and other rights that are nowhere enumerated in the Constitution, many of which have no basis in history, tradition or natural law. Some of these decisions were actually correct, but many were perverse (like the contraception decisions Griswold and Eisenstadt), and all of them laid the groundwork for Roe and Casey. They also stemmed from a theory of absolute personal autonomy that evolved from the political liberalism on which America was founded and that produced the culture of sexual libertinism and moral relativism that we currently inhabit.

Overruling Roe and Casey would thus mean that the “conservative” Justices would be repudiating an entire body of law and a political and moral philosophy that is so deeply entrenched in our society that most people find any alternative view virtually incomprehensible. They would also set off a political explosion that would undermine the legitimacy of the Court in the eyes of a large number of Americans and many powerful elected officials. Such a momentous decision would be virtually unprecedented in American history, with the only prior examples that I can think of being Brown v. Board of Education and Roe itself.

Even if the Justices mustered the fortitude to overrule Roe and Casey, abortion would not suddenly be made illegal across the United States. The issue would then return to the states for regulation. A number of states already have laws on the books that would essentially permit abortion on demand for some, if not all of pregnancy. New York’s statute, for example, permits abortion on demand prior to 24 weeks of pregnancy. According to one expert on abortion law, if Roe and Casey were overruled, only eleven states have laws that would completely outlaw abortion, and over 80% of Americans would live in states where the situation would be essentially unchanged — abortion would still be legal for all nine months of pregnancy for virtually any reason and with little effective regulation.

It is also likely that state courts would step into the breach and declare a constitutional right to abortion. Iowa’s Supreme Court did so just last week, and as many as twelve other states had previously done so. We would also expect increased pressure in solid liberal states like New York to expand abortion rights through legislation.

This is not to say that we should expect that nothing will change for the better. I fully expect that the new Justice will be a legitimate constitutional originalist, which means that they would interpret the Constitution according to its actual original meaning. I also expect that they will show greater respect for the separation of powers and federalism. And I believe that at least in the short term they will vote to permit states to have greater leeway in regulating abortion, and to protect religious liberty and freedom of expression. Those would all be good developments, and may begin the process of rolling back Roe, Casey, and the terrible decisions that underlie them.

A new nominee to the Supreme Court will not be a magic bullet that will make all things new. Our challenge is to continue to press for social and legislative change that would increase respect for human life. We also have to work harder to create a social infrastructure that would replace the culture of contraception and abortion and promote a vision of women’s health that truly respects her fertility and genuine freedom. We still have a lot of work to do.

A Time of Decision in Ireland

Tuesday, May 15th, 2018

A momentous decision is looming in Ireland. They have a choice between life and death. Once made, there will likely be no going back.

At issue is a referendum on May 25th that would repeal the 8th Amendment to the Irish Constitution.  The amendment currently guarantees the right to life for the unborn child and ensures equal legal protection to both the mother and the unborn child. It reads: “The State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.” This is a humane and sensible expression of the natural moral law that every human life deserves to be protected in law, and that no life is more valuable than another.

The amendment was originally adopted by referendum in 1983, with an approval vote of almost 67%. One would have thought that the matter was settled, but that wouldn’t account for the relentless pressure of pro-abortion organizations in Europe and elsewhere. Ireland has been consistently targeted by pro-abortion groups, who cannot stand the notion that a nation in the supposedly enlightened West could possibly believe that an unborn human being has human rights and deserves legal protection.

They have pushed forward other referenda that have weakened the 8th Amendment by guaranteeing the right to travel for an abortion (which primarily means to the UK, which has very liberal laws) and the right to receive information about foreign abortions. Other referenda to expand abortion were defeated. Advocates have turned to the courts, and won decisions that guaranteed the right to an abortion if the mother’s life was in danger — but the court included the notion of a risk of suicide, which just invites cynical manipulation by the amoral abortion industry to create a de facto right to abortion on demand.

They have now pressed the issue with this referendum, which would repeal the 8th amendment and permit the government to enact legislation regulating abortion.

This point is essential to remember. The referendum isn’t the only thing at stake here. The pending legislation is what ultimately matters the most, because it shows what repeal will really mean  to unborn Irish children. The government has released the bill that it proposes to enact if the 8th Amendment is repealed. It is a radical bill that would give Ireland among the most liberal abortion laws in Europe, and arguably as liberal as the United States. The bill would allow abortion:

  • Prior to 12 weeks for any reason;
  • Prior to viability “when there is a risk to the life of, or of serious harm to the health of, the pregnant woman”;
  • At any time when “there is an immediate risk to the life of, or of serious harm to the health of, the pregnant woman”; and
  • At any time when “there is present a condition affecting the foetus that is likely to lead to the death of the foetus either before birth or shortly after birth”.

The bill defines “health” as “physical or mental health”, without any further specificity. The courts in Ireland, or subsequent legislation, could easily interpret “mental health” as broadly as our Supreme Court has interpreted the term “health”. This means that the bill could legalize abortion on demand at least prior to viability and it could also open the door to abortion on demand for all nine months of pregnancy. And nobody could possibly believe that the pro-abortion advocates will ultimately be satisfied with any limits — as we’ve seen here in the US, they countenance no limits on abortion, no matter how reasonable.

The campaign to repeal the 8th Amendment is supported by the Irish Prime Minister, most of the major political parties, and major Irish and international abortion rights organizations (such as Amnesty International). Prominent celebrities such as Liam Neeson and U2 have come out in favor of repeal. The traditional media (print, television and radio) are very heavily in favor of repeal — they have been notably biased against the opponents and have even frozen them out of advertising and news coverage. None of this should surprise us here in the United States, since we face the same monolithic opposition of our supposed betters in the media and government.

The pro-life effort opposing repeal is a real David v. Goliath battle. It is led by the major pro-life organizations, particularly the Pro-Life Campaign (using the slogan “Love Both”) and the Life Institute ( “Save the 8th”). The Irish Bishops’ Conference, as well as dozens of individual bishops, have issued strong and eloquent statements urging a “no” vote, but their influence has been badly damaged by past scandals. No major political party has come out in opposition to repeal. That is a truly remarkable and tragic state of affairs — not a single major Irish political organization is willing to defend unborn children.

The campaign for repeal is generally considered to be far better funded than the anti-repeal campaign. Both Google and Facebook have suspended any advertisements about the referendum, which will unduly hurt the pro-life side. The lack of any outrage over this effort by powerful American corporations to interfere in a foreign election to remove legal protections for human life should be noted any time anyone suggests that corporations aren’t legal “persons” or that they are forces for social good. This is the kind of thing that the Holy Father is referring to when he speaks of “ideological colonialism”.

There is little that American pro-lifers can do to impact this election, since Irish law bans foreign money from their political campaigns. Of course, that’s only because we respect the law, and it hasn’t stopped pro-abortion groups like Amnesty International from pouring money in.

But we can and should certainly pray for wisdom for the Irish voters, that they will uphold their nation’s honorable and admirable protection for all human lives. Since the vote is on the 25th, perhaps people could join me in praying a special Novena to Our Lady of Knock, the Queen of Ireland, beginning on May 17th. Here is the prayer:

Our Lady of Knock, Queen of Ireland, you gave hope to your people in a time of distress and comforted them in sorrow. You have inspired countless pilgrims to pray with confidence to your divine Son, remembering His promise, “Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find”. Help me to remember that we are all pilgrims on the road to Heaven. Fill me with love and concern for my brothers and sisters in Christ, especially those who live with me. Comfort me when I am sick, lonely or depressed. Teach me how to take part ever more reverently in the Holy Mass. Give me a greater love of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Pray for me now and at the end of my death. Amen.

Abortion Expansion is Still a Threat

Friday, April 6th, 2018

I have written before about the threat posed by Governor Cuomo’s abortion expansion proposal, which he introduced earlier this year as part of his budget. See my blogs ” The Governor’s Cruel Abortion Bill” and ” New York’s Insatiable Abortion Appetite“. This was a very dangerous threat, because by law a budget must be passed by April 1 and the only way to remove an item from the proposed budget is in the secret behind-the-scenes negotiations between the Governor and the leaders of the Assembly and Senate.

Thanks be to God, the pro-life members of the Senate and the Republican Senate Majority Leader, John Flanagan, held firm and the proposal was not included in the final budget bills that were passed on Good Friday. We have to be so grateful for all the efforts of the New Yorkers for Life coalition, particularly the New York State Catholic Conference and New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms. And we are extremely thankful for all the work done by our pastors and parishioners, especially those in the key Senate districts that we concentrated our efforts on.

But we can’t rest on our laurels. The abortion expansion threat is still very real. The Governor insisted in his post-budget press conference that he would continue to press for abortion expansion during the rest of the legislative session.

So we now have to focus our attention on the so-called Reproductive Health Act (A 1748/S 2796). This bill, in various forms, has been around for over a decade, and its current manifestation is virtually indistinguishable from the Governor’s budget proposal. It is a radical proposal that would give New York the most liberal abortion laws in the world — in fact, it would remove any limitations on abortion from our laws. It would:

  • Encourage more late-term abortions by removing our current law’s limit on abortions after 24 weeks there will be more late-term abortions in our state.
  • Permit non-doctors to do abortions by giving State bureaucrats unlimited discretion to grant a license to perform abortions to anyone they wanted.
  • Eliminate all criminal penalties for abortions so even if an abortion was involuntary or coerced, or if an unborn child is deliberately targeted for an act of violence, it could not be prosecuted. This would basically legalize domestic violence against unborn children.
  • Endanger children even after birth by eliminating a law that requires that a baby born alive after an abortion be given adequate health care. Instead, this bill would allow abortionists to leave those children to die of neglect and starvation.

For more detailed information about the bill, see our Office’s information page and this bill memo from the New York State Catholic Conference.

This horrible piece of legislation has already passed the Assembly, by the absurdly lopsided vote of 93 to 44. Of the forty-four Assembly members who represent parts of the Archdiocese, it is a disgrace that only seven cast pro-life votes against it — Kevin Byrne (Westchester/Putnam), Ron Castorina (Staten Island), Marcus Crespo (Bronx), Mike Cusick (Staten Island), Kieran Michael Lalor (Dutchess), Nicole Malliotakis (Staten Island) and Al Taylor (Manhattan). Kudos to them, and shame on their colleagues.

The Governor already displays an Ozymandias-like level of exaggerated self-esteem about his alleged accomplishments in office. He is in a tough primary race against a very liberal opponent, so it’s likely that he will push very hard for passage of the Reproductive Health Act to prove his “progressive” bona fides.

We can’t let that happen. We owe it to women, to unborn children yet conceived, and to all of our society to deny the Governor bragging rights for the passage of this horrendous and deadly bill.

The Governor’s Cruel Abortion Bill

Wednesday, January 31st, 2018

All abortions are acts of terrible cruelty. Late-term abortions are particularly barbaric – they are typically done by dismembering the child while she is still alive and capable of feeling pain. There is no civilized way to kill a child in her mother’s womb – or anywhere else, for that matter.

Our laws do little to temper this cruelty. Thanks to the Supreme Court’s perverse jurisprudence, there is virtually no effective ban on any abortion at any stage of pregnancy. The one ban that has survived judicial nullification, the partial birth abortion ban, has likely had no real effect, since it left abortionists free to choose another method, equally cruel, to kill the child.

The innate cruelty of the abortion mentality has been brought into clear view by Governor Cuomo’s proposed abortion expansion scheme. This is the same approach he unsuccessfully tried a few years ago, which was thwarted by sustained opposition by pro-lifers. This time, the Governor has gamed the legislative system by squirreling his abortion expansion bill in one of his budget bills. This corrupt and anti-democratic maneuver makes it very difficult to eliminate the abortion proposal, which would remove any restrictions on the reasons for late-term abortions, permit non-doctors to do abortions, and eliminate any protection for the unborn child against a direct assault. I’ve outlined elsewhere the dangers of this proposal.

There is one provision in the Governor’s bill that is so cruel and so inhumane that it deserves separate attention and special condemnation.

In our current Public Health Law, there is a section that is called the “Baby Doe Law” (section 4164). Enacted in 1974, this law requires that whenever an abortion is performed after 20 weeks, a second doctor must be present whose responsibility is to take care of the child in case she is born alive. This should surely be uncontroversial – it is an element of basic humanity to provide care to a helpless vulnerable person. In fact, a related federal law, the Born-Alive Infant Protection Act was passed in 2002 by the House by a wide margin and the Senate by unanimous consent.

Yet the Governor’s bill would repeal the Baby Doe Law. In other words, he would deny health care to a vulnerable helpless child, crying for her mother and struggling to survive. He would leave her fate in the hands of an abortionist, whose primary job is to kill her.

This is not an academic discussion. Babies are born alive after abortions and abortionists do nothing to care for them. Some abortionists, like the infamous Kermit Gosnell, deliberately murder them. A study published by a highly respected medical journal has estimated that over 5% of babies survive abortion at 21 weeks and almost 10% survive a 23 week abortion – at a time when many of them would be able to survive if they were given proper medical care. According to official New York statistics, there were 2,106 abortions after 20 weeks in 2015. That means that there could be over 100 and perhaps as many as 200 babies born alive in New York after abortions, many of whom were viable. There’s no way to know how many of them received decent medical care.

This horrifying reality was brought into the light in the recent Congressional investigation into the alleged sale of fetal tissue by Planned Parenthood. One Planned Parenthood doctor testified:

I can tell you that none of our Health Centers provide obstetrics care. So they don’t deliver babies. So they don’t have anyone who can provide care, nor do they know what that care is. . . . We don’t deliver babies at Planned Parenthood. . . . [O]ur affiliates don’t provide obstetrical care. So therefore, they don’t know how to manage a term infant or a premature infant. (emphasis added)

Another doctor from a university hospital in New Mexico, who performs late-term abortions and trains other doctors to do so, testified:

Q: So does your curriculum call for training of doctors of what to do if a child is born alive because of an induced abortion?
A: No.
Q: No training at all?
A: No.
Q: There’s no resuscitation training?
A: OB/GYN doctors do not resuscitate neonates. (emphasis added)

Reflecting on this and other chilling testimony from abortionists, the Congressional panel concluded,

The testimony… suggests a lack of medical training and of any sense of obligation to be trained to preserve the life of an infant that survives the abortion procedure. It reflects a philosophy that a right to abortion somehow carries a guarantee of the death of the infant expelled during the procedure.

This is what the Governor wants to enshrine in New York law. The deliberate killing by neglect of babies who have already been born and who can survive with basic care. To bring us back to the level of the ancient Greeks and Romans, who left unwanted children out in the woods to die of exposure and neglect.

Infanticide is the technical term.

It is cruel and barbaric by any name.

The Abortion Resistance Continues

Wednesday, January 17th, 2018

The sad anniversary of the infamous Roe v. Wade decision is once again upon us. Our nation continues to live under the shadow of one of the greatest injustices in our history — a legal regime that holds that unborn children have no rights that born people are bound to respect. It is a legal system that violates all notions of human rights by permitting acts of lethal violence with impunity against an entire class of human beings, solely because of their age and vulnerability.

The radical nature of our abortion laws is woefully misunderstood. The news media and commentators frequently mislead people into thinking that Roe merely legalized abortion in the first trimester of pregnancy, and permitted many restrictions thereafter. The fact of the matter is, and always has been, that Roe struck down the abortion laws of every state in the Union, and guarantees the right to an abortion through all nine months of pregnancy, for any reason whatsoever. This is important to understand, especially when demagogic public officials like the Governor of New York trumpet their desire to enact Roe into law.

Here in a very liberal state, it is sometimes easy to forget that abortion is not as widely supported in the rest of America. A new poll from the Knights of Columbus and Marist College demonstrates the depth of pro-life feelings in our nation. Only a bare majority of Americans (51%) call themselves “pro-choice”, while 44% say they’re “pro-life”. But labels are deceptive — they conceal the real pro-life majority. This can be seen when the poll asks more specific questions about people’s actual beliefs:

  • 76% of Americans support limiting abortion to the first three months of pregnancy.
  • There is strong support for this limit across the political and ideological spectrum — Republicans (92%), Independents (78%), Democrats (61%) and even those who call themselves Pro-choice (60%).
  • 63% of Americans would ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, and 60% oppose using tax dollars to pay for abortion.
  • 56% of Americans continue to believe that abortion is morally wrong, and 64% believe it’s immoral to abort unborn children with genetic ailments like Down syndrome — a position that even 49% of those who are Pro-choice agree with.
  • In a sign of hope for authentic conscience protection, 54% of Americans agree that medical professionals and organizations with moral objections should not be required to be involved in abortions or cover them with health insurance.
  • Abortion continues to be a major issue in how people decide to vote for President (42%), Congress (45%) and local races (38%).
  • And despite decades of pro-abortion propaganda intended to establish that abortion is a positive good, a strong majority of Americans (52%) say that abortion does a woman more harm than good in the long run, while only 29% have bought the lie that abortion improves a woman’s life.

It has proven frustratingly difficult to translate pro-life support in polls into public policy and judicial decisions. This is especially true in our current dysfunctional political system, especially here in New York. But what this new poll demonstrates is that however deeply embedded abortion may be in our law and society, the pro-life position is still strong in the hearts and minds of our fellow Americans.

The cause of life can never be defeated, because it is the cause of truth and it’s the cause of God. And so on this Friday, January 19, we once again march to give witness to our belief in the sanctity of every human life, confident that there are millions of others who can’t be with us but who share our beliefs.

The Resistance goes on.

The Higher Law and Our True King

Monday, November 27th, 2017

Every so often, there is a remarkable confluence of events that reminds us of God’s will and His activity in our world. In just the past few days, we’ve seen another example of that, one that reminds us of the dire consequences if we continue to forget that God’s law is the highest law and that Christ is our true King.

Last week, a federal District Court judge ruled that a Texas abortion law was unconstitutional. The bill prohibited “dismemberment abortion”, which is defined in stomach-churning terms as:

dismember[ing] the living unborn child and extract[ing] the unborn child one piece at a time from the uterus through the use of clamps, grasping forceps, tongs, scissors, or a similar instrument that, through the convergence of two rigid levers, slices, crushes, or grasps, or performs any combination of those actions on, a piece of the unborn child’s body to cut or rip the piece from the body.

This horror is known in the medical world as a “D&E” abortion — “dilation and extraction”. Such cold clinical terms are used to avoid acknowledging the reality of what is done to a living human being.

It should go without saying that any body of law that fails to protect human beings from this form of cruel torture — a practice once universally condemned as a crime against humanity when it was done in the death camps — is uncivilized and unworthy of respect or obedience. Sadly, in the Culture of Death that has perverted and desecrated America and our constitutional law, such a barbaric practice is not only legally protected but is held up as one of the highest values in our law. That a prestigious court would grant legal protection to an act of human vivisection is a symptom of a profound cultural and civic sickness.

This sad conclusion is made even clearer by the other event that happened in the last few days. Our liturgical calendar sets aside the last Sunday before Advent as the Solemnity of Christ the King of the Universe. It is worth looking back to the magnificent encyclical letter, Quas Primas, by which Pope Pius XI inaugurated this celebration.

To begin with, the Holy Father stated that “It would be a grave error…to say that Christ has no authority whatever in civil affairs, since, by virtue of the absolute empire over all creatures committed to him by the Father, all things are in his power.” (17)

He then recounted some of the consequences of this failure to recognize the authority of Christ as law-giver, judge, and administrator of all societies:

… the seeds of discord sown far and wide; those bitter enmities and rivalries between nations, which still hinder so much the cause of peace; that insatiable greed which is so often hidden under a pretense of public spirit and patriotism, and gives rise to so many private quarrels; a blind and immoderate selfishness, making men seek nothing but their own comfort and advantage, and measure everything by these; no peace in the home, because men have forgotten or neglect their duty; the unity and stability of the family undermined; society in a word, shaken to its foundations and on the way to ruin. (24)

Does this sound familiar? The Holy Father was writing in 1925, in the aftermath of the devastating Great War, yet he could have been commenting on the catastrophe we see all around us today. He then went on to outline the benefits of recognizing our true King as the source of all law and authority:

When once men recognize, both in private and in public life, that Christ is King, society will at last receive the great blessings of real liberty, well-ordered discipline, peace and harmony… If princes and magistrates duly elected are filled with the persuasion that they rule, not by their own right, but by the mandate and in the place of the Divine King, they will exercise their authority piously and wisely, and they will make laws and administer them, having in view the common good and also the human dignity of their subjects. The result will be a stable peace and tranquillity, for there will be no longer any cause of discontent… Peace and harmony, too, will result; for with the spread and the universal extent of the kingdom of Christ men will become more and more conscious of the link that binds them together, and thus many conflicts will be either prevented entirely or at least their bitterness will be diminished. (19)

It’s not popular to speak in these terms these days, because one is usually accused of being a theocrat or a religious fundamentalist. But it is nothing like that at all. It is a simple recognition that if our society were governed by the laws of God, then we would have true peace and justice. And no horror like a dismemberment abortion would be tolerated or even contemplated. But that is only possible if we recognize the authority of God’s higher law and Jesus Christ as our true King.