By Kathleen M. Gallagher
Losing is hard. No one likes to lose. I imagine that’s why kids today are taught that everyone’s a winner. Losing hurts.
On Jan. 22 – the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade – the Democratic-controlled New York State Legislature passed the so-called “Reproductive Health Act” (RHA). They said it was merely an “update” to our law, that it simply “codified” Roe into New York statutes. Governor Andrew Cuomo touted it as progress for women, immediately signed it into law and celebrated with a party at the executive mansion.
This loss hurts so much it stings.
The RHA is no simple codification of Roe vs. Wade. While it’s difficult to comprehend how New York’s abortion law could be made even more expansive than it already is, this law does it.
It will empower non-doctors to perform abortions; allow abortions for any reason throughout a woman’s pregnancy; remove all criminal penalties for abortion, even if it is contrary to the mother’s choice; and remove our state’s protections for infants accidentally born alive in the course of an abortion.
Since the day that former Governor Eliot Spitzer first introduced it in 2007, we have fought this abortion expansion scheme with everything we have. And for 12 years – 12 years! – we have kept the bill away from the governor’s desk.
Parishes collected postcards, and parishioners signed petitions. Citizens took time off from their jobs to come to Albany to educate lawmakers. We held a candlelight vigil outside the Capitol and prayed. We organized a physicians’ press conference and lobby day. We held rallies and conducted seminars. Thousands upon thousands of New Yorkers wrote letters and sent e-mails.
We even got the legislature to break up the 10-point package that had been cleverly assembled by the governor into a “women’s agenda.” Nine of those 10 bills – all improvements for women – were enacted into law in 2015. But not the abortion expansion bill; that one we stopped.
So do not weep. The fact that we have prevented the enactment of this law for the last dozen years means we have undoubtedly saved innocent human lives and spared mothers enduring heartbreak and pain. God does not call us to be successful. He asks us only to be faithful. We have kept the faith; we have fought the good fight. We must leave the results to Him.
We must continue not only to counter the culture, but also to convert it. The latest data from the federal government indicates we are succeeding: abortion numbers continue to decrease. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control say abortion rates for women of all ages have plunged over the last decade. That is due, in no small part, to the efforts of countless pro-life people who are witnessing, educating, offering alternatives, providing compassion and building the Culture of Life.
Yes, the loss is crushing, and the new abortion law will likely be the most permissive one in the country. But keep your eyes on the prize: a world in which no young woman ever feels the need to use it.
Gallagher is director of pro-life activities for the New York State Catholic Conference.