Bishops oppose NY abortion legislation, urge Catholics to act

Jennifer Burke/Catholic Courier    |    01.18.2019
Category: Local News


New York state’s bishops recently issued a strong statement of opposition to proposed legislation that would significantly expand abortion in New York state.

“Words are insufficient to describe the profound sadness we feel at the contemplated passage of New York State’s new proposed abortion policy. We mourn the unborn infants who will lose their lives, and the many mothers and fathers who will suffer remorse and heartbreak as a result,” the bishops said in the statement, which was signed by Cardinal Timothy Dolan of the Archdiocese of New York and the bishops of the other seven dioceses in New York — including Rochester Bishop Salvatore R. Matano — as well as the state’s retired and auxiliary bishops.

The New York State Catholic Conference, which represents the state’s bishops in public-policy matters, also is encouraging Catholics to contact their legislators and voice their opposition to the proposed legislation.

The proposed Reproductive Health Act — S.240/A.21 — was introduced in the state Senate and Assembly Jan. 9. The bill would expand access to abortion by eliminating current state restrictions on late-term abortions, empowering “health-care practitioners” — who may not necessarily be doctors — to perform abortions, removing protections against unwanted or coerced abortions, and removing protections for infants born alive after failed abortion attempts, according to the Catholic conference. The bill also refers to abortion as “a fundamental right,” and says the state “shall not discriminate against, deny or interfere with the exercise of” that right.”

New York’s current abortion laws are “radically permissive,” and the proposed legislation would make it even more so, according to the Jan. 17 statement from New York’s bishops.

“With an abortion rate that is already double the national average, New York law is moving in the wrong direction,” the bishops stated. “We renew our pledge to offer the resources and services of our charitable agencies and health services to any woman experiencing an unplanned pregnancy, to support her in bearing her infant, raising her family or placing her child for adoption. There are life-affirming choices available, and we aim to make them more widely known and accessible.”

New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, in his Jan. 15 State of the State address, urged lawmakers to pass the Reproductive Health Act quickly. He also advocated for enshrining the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision into New York state’s constitution upon passage of the Reproductive Health Act.

“Let’s write the rights of Roe v. Wade into the state constitution so it can never be changed, no matter what happens politically,” Cuomo said in his address. “We have an opportunity to stand up and be the most progressive state in the United States on women’s leadership issues, and we should do it.”

Expanding access to abortion, however, is not a sign of progress, according to New York’s bishops.

“Our Governor and legislative leaders hail this new abortion law as progress. This is not progress,” the bishops wrote in their Jan. 17 statement. “Progress will be achieved when our laws and our culture once again value and respect each unrepeatable gift of human life, from the first moment of creation to natural death. Would that not make us truly the most enlightened and progressive state in the nation?”

Although the Reproductive Health Act is expected to pass in both the Democrat-controlled state Senate and Assembly, the Catholic conference nonetheless is encouraging Catholics to voice their opinions on the proposed legislation as soon as possible. Those interested may do so by visiting the Catholic conference’s website , where they can compose their own messages or edit a pre-written message.

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