The national debate over abortion heated up in May, when a leaked version of a draft Supreme Court opinion seemed to indicate the court was poised to overturn its ruling in the 1973 Roe v. Wade case, which had legalized abortion throughout the United States.
Lawmakers in New York state responded by passing a package of bills intended to promote and preserve access to abortion within the state.
Those bills were signed into law June 13, and on June 24 the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in its decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
Yet the debate is far from over.
Thus, the New York State Catholic Conference is encouraging local Catholics to speak up, sharing with lawmakers their views on further efforts to promote abortion access in New York.
“Pro-life New Yorkers do exist and deserve a voice,” said Kristen Curran, director of government relations for the Catholic conference.
Laws, initiatives in New York state in recent months have promoted abortion
Curran said the state Legislature and Gov. Kathy Hochul have centered much of their recent activity on abortion access.
“We as always find it extremely unfortunate that the focus of the Legislature and governor seems to be solely on promoting and expanding abortion,” she said. “We would like to see resources made available to women and children in need, and to pregnant women who are struggling and might choose life if only they had the support to do so.”
The state’s Roman Catholic bishops, who are represented in public-policy matters by the Catholic conference, issued a statement amid furor over the leaked Supreme Court draft opinion last May. In the statement, they pledged to support pregnant women and families, and asked all Catholics to do the same. They also expressed disappointment with the way “elected officials constantly fall over themselves in rushing to announce new initiatives to ever expand abortion in order to garner votes.”
The bills Hochul signed into law in June will:
• shield abortion providers from arrest, subpoena, extradition and medical malpractice charges if they perform abortions on women who reside in states where abortion is not legal;
• allow abortion providers and patients to enroll in the state’s Address Confidentiality Program, which previously had been limited to victims of domestic violence, stalking, sexual offense and human trafficking; and
• authorize the state health commissioner to study and issue a report on what the bill’s text termed the “unmet health and resource needs” of pregnant New Yorkers.
Pro-life pregnancy centers being watched
Curran said this study appears to have a pre-determined outcome, as the language of the bill refers to pro-life pregnancy centers as “limited service pregnancy centers.”
“The study, if and when it is implemented, would see the Department of Health force pro-life pregnancy centers to turn over an onerous amount of paperwork. This would clearly create difficulties for these centers, many of which already struggle with staff, funding and resources,” Curran said.
In late June, New York Attorney General Letitia James took issue with the fact that crisis pregnancy centers were listed among search results returned in internet queries relating to abortion. In late August, James said Google had agreed that going forward, its search results would denote whether abortions are performed at the places listed.
Also in late June, James launched a hotline to provide legal guidance and resources to abortion providers and supporters; New Yorkers seeking abortions; and women looking to travel to New York for abortions. That same month, Hochul launched a multi-platform public-education campaign — featuring advertisements at transportation hubs, shopping centers, airports, and via radio and digital channels — offering information about access to abortion in New York.
Hochul previously had pledged to invest $35 million in state funds to support abortion providers in New York. Of that sum, $25 million was designated for grants to expand abortion providers’ capacity, and $10 million was earmarked for increasing security at abortion clinics. The first $10 million in funding to abortion providers was awarded in July.
Catholics encouraged to voice opposition to proposed constitutional amendment
On July 1, state lawmakers also passed an amendment to New York’s constitution that would increase protections for legalized abortions. Although the amendment was passed during a special legislative session Hochul convened in late June, it will come up for another vote after the November elections, according to Shannon Kilbridge, director of the Diocese of Rochester’s Office of Life Issues.
“If it passes, (there) will be a referendum vote. It is not too soon for people to start calling their legislators to speak out against the abortion provisions in the amendment,” Kilbridge said. “We will continue to communicate, in cooperation with the New York State Catholic Conference, if the amendment progresses.”Tags: Abortion, NY Catholics