State Bishops Slam Cuomo On Abort Plan

Five months after initially proposing it and with less than three weeks left in the legislative session, Gov. Andrew Cuomo finally made public his Women’s Equality Act that includes his agenda to expand abortion in New York State.

The bill would significantly ease restrictions in state law on late-term (third-trimester) abortion.

The New York State Catholic Conference called the proposal “a policy completely out of step with the attitudes of most New Yorkers.”

The conference’s statement, issued in the name of Cardinal Timothy Dolan and the Bishops of New York State, said:

“We are profoundly distressed by the introduction of a bill in New York State that would ease restrictions in state law on late-term abortion and runs the serious risk of broadly expanding abortion access at all stages of gestation. This legislation would add a broad and undefined ‘health’ exception for late-term abortion and would repeal the portion of the penal law that governs abortion policy, opening the door for non-doctors to perform abortions and potentially decriminalizing even forced or coerced abortions. In addition, we find the conscience protection in the bill to be vague and insufficient, and we are concerned about the religious liberty of our health facilities. While the bill’s proponents say it will simply ‘codify’ federal law, it is selective in its codification. Nowhere does it address the portions of federal laws that limit abortion, such as the ban on taxpayer funding, the ban on partial birth abortion or protections for unborn victims of violence.

“As the pastors of more than 7.2 million Catholic New Yorkers, we fully oppose this measure, and urge all our faithful people to do the same, vigorously and unapologetically. We invite all women and men of good will to join in this effort and defeat this serious attempt to expand abortion availability in our state and to codify the most radical abortion proposals of any state in the nation.

“We support the first nine points in the Governor’s agenda that enhance the true dignity of women. We commit ourselves to examining those proposals and working with the legislature on any and all efforts that help guarantee real equity for all women and men. Our position on these issues will be consistent with all the efforts of the Catholic Church throughout the world to enhance the dignity of women. The direct taking of the life of a child in the womb in no way enhances a woman’s dignity.

“Instead of expanding abortion and making abortions even more prevalent, we would like to protect both the woman and the child in the womb. In New York, where one in every three pregnancies ends in abortion (and upwards of six in 10 in certain communities), it is clear that we as a state have lost sight of that child’s dignity. We pledge all our efforts to defeat this proposal. We call on all pro-life New Yorkers to stand together with us and with all the leadership in Albany who share our conviction that we have no need for such a bill to become law. We need instead to enhance and promote the life and dignity of all human beings from the moment of conception to the moment of natural death.”

‘Act of Political Suicide’

Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, claimed that “Andrew Cuomo’s lust for abortion rights has effectively killed his chances of ever becoming president of the United States with his proposal to allow abortions in New York through term. This is an act of political suicide.

“Not since Roe v. Wade legalized abortion in 1973 have more Americans identified themselves as pro-life. And what is Cuomo doing? He’s going the other way.

“Last year, a Gallup poll found that a majority of Americans (52%) want abortion legal under certain circumstances; 25% want it legal in all cases; and 20% want it illegal in all cases. Cuomo is laying anchor with the 25%.

“There is absolutely no demand for late abortions – the evidence is just the opposite – yet this is exactly what Cuomo champions.

“Cuomo may not pay a big price in New York for his extremism, but once he ventures outside the Empire State he will find out – the way his father Mario did – just how out of touch he is with public sentiment on this life and death issue.”

The Rev. Jason J. McGuire, executive director of New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms, said, “Contrary to the self-serving representations made by the Governor and his staff over the past several months, the proposed Women’s Equality Act does indeed include late-term abortion expansion language. In spite of the fact that New York is already the abortion capital of the nation, and in spite of the deep concerns felt by a supermajority of New York voters in regard to the availability of late-term abortion, Governor Cuomo has continued with his efforts to gain the good will of the abortion industry.

“It is a shame that Governor Cuomo is holding the other elements of his Women’s Equality Act hostage to late-term abortion expansion. It is a disgrace that the Governor continues to do nothing whatsoever to decrease our state’s woefully high abortion rate and to bring New York’s abortion laws into line with the views of the voting public.”

Kirsten Smith, spokeswoman for New Yorkers for Life, said, “It is fitting that the Governor unveils his abortion expansion language today, on the day that Planned Parenthood has organized buses to come to Albany to support his agenda. One need only follow the money to see that Planned Parenthood’s abortion industry would be the beneficiary of any expansion of late-term abortion in New York.

“For certain, women do not benefit. Their health and safety would be jeopardized by a greater likelihood that a late-term abortionist like Kermit Gosnell practices his trade in New York, with little or no oversight.

“Fully-formed unborn children in the final months of gestation do not benefit. More of them would be at risk of abortion, and New York would be forbidden from offering them any real protection.

“New Yorkers do not benefit. They would be forced to pay more taxpayer dollars for abortion, and they will be compelled to support abortion even if it is contrary to their convictions.

“It is only the abortion industry and Planned Parenthood’s pockets that would benefit from expanding abortion in the Empire State.”

Greg Pfundstein, president of the Chiaroscuro Foundation, pointed out that some supporters of Governor Cuomo’s abortion bill have been saying that it would “codify federal law.”

“That is factually incorrect,” said Pfundstein.

“Current federal law is based not on Roe v. Wade alone but on Roe as modified by Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992), which allows sensible restrictions on abortion.

“Roe v. Wade struck down all state laws prohibiting abortion, prohibited restriction before viability except to protect the safety of women, required an extremely broad health exception up until birth, and established a strict scrutiny test for any restriction on abortion.

“In Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992), the Court held that at viability the state’s interest in the life of the fetus outweighs the woman’s right to abortion. It also struck down the strict scrutiny test of Roe and replaced it with an undue burden test for restrictions on abortion. It thus upheld four of the five restrictions Pennsylvania had legislated.

“In Gonzalez v. Carhart, the Court held that the federal government could prohibit certain types of procedures, thereby restricting the rights of physicians to perform abortions in any way they see fit. Such a restriction would not be allowed under the Roe regime’s strict scrutiny test: the court held that the restriction did not constitute an undue burden, thereby relying on Casey, rather than Roe.

“Codifying Roe v. Wade in New York would eliminate the progress made in the last 40 years toward a more sensible abortion regime.”