The New York State Catholic Conference is urging Gov. George Pataki to veto a bill that would make the so-called “morning-after pill” available to any girl or woman in the state, regardless of age, without a prescription.
The conference represents New York state’s eight bishops in matters of public policy, and the bill it opposes is called
On June 22, the state Senate followed the lead of the Assembly and passed the bill — “The Unintended Pregnancy Prevention Act” — which would allow females to purchase emergency contraception at any pharmacy without need for prescriptions.
The Catholic conference described such distribution of the pills as “mega-doses of hormones (available) on an unlimited basis without any physician or parental oversight.”
“The so-called ‘morning-after pill’ involves multiple high doses of numerous birth control pills designed to be taken orally up to 72 hours after sexual intercourse,” the conference noted in an article on its Web site. “Most regimens use pills that combine estrogen and certain progestin hormones. The morning-after pill can either prevent pregnancy or terminate a genetically unique human life.”
“Medical experts, including those (in the Food and Drug Administration), agree that the morning-after pill can alter the lining of the uterus so that an already-fertilized egg would be unable to implant,” the conference said. “If the pills act in this manner, a chemical abortion has occurred, destroying the life of a developing human embryo. Marketing these drugs as simply contraception is false advertising and denies women fully informed consent regarding the drugs they may be ingesting.”
Proponents of the bill argue that emergency contraceptives do not cause abortions, although NARAL Pro-Choice New York acknowledges on its Web site that emergency contraceptives can act to prevent embryonic implantation. The Catholic Church teaches that human life begins at conception, not at implantation, which occurs more than a week later.
Republican Sen. Nick Spano of Westchester County introduced the bill, S.3661, in March. It matches Assembly proposal A.116, which passed the Assembly.after being introduced by Democratic Assembly member Amy Paulin, also of Westchester.
“We are deeply disappointed that Senator Nicholas Spano and the leadership of the Senate Majority pushed through this dangerous bill over the objections of most members of the Senate’s Republican Conference,” Richard E. Barnes, executive director of the Catholic conference, said June 23.
“With this vote, the Senate has agreed to take doctors out of the equation and to enable girls and women to access potentially dangerous pills regardless of potential risks or contraindications, and without any oversight as to how they are used,” Barnes added. “This is the worst kind of public policy because it puts the health of children at risk.”
“These pills can act either to prevent pregnancy or to terminate early human life,” added Kathleen Gallagher, director of pro-life activities for the state Catholic conference. “At the very least, women deserve to know the truth. This is a dangerous bill for females and families and a tragic one for the human embryos who will be destroyed by easy access to these drugs. Between the risks to minors of repeated use and the potential for destroying unborn human lives, this bill is indefensible and immoral.”
The conference noted that the Maryland State Senate had defeated a bill similar to S.3661 in March. Numerous Maryland senators — both Republicans and Democrats — raised concerns about minors having such easy access to the drugs without parental knowledge or the expertise of a doctor, according to the N.Y. Catholic conference.