By Tom Precious
ALBANY -- The leaders of the Catholic Church in New York came out swinging this afternoon against Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's proposal to put into state law stronger protections for access to abortions, including late-term procedures if the health of the mother is at risk.
The New York State Catholic Conference, which represents Timothy Cardinal Dolan and the state's bishops, will be among the key groups pushing back on attempts to guarantee abortion access in New York should Roe v. Wade ever be overturned on the federal level -- an unlikely scenario 40 years after the landmark case. The Reproductive Health Act, first proposed by former Gov. Eliot Spitzer, was among the items Cuomo said in this week's State of the State address he would press legislators to pass in the coming legislative session.
Here is the statement by the Catholic Conference's Kathleen Gallagher to what the group called a "radical" abortion bill:
“Governor Andrew Cuomo’s re-packaging of an extreme abortion bill into a so-called ‘women’s agenda’ is a desperate attempt to push through an abortion expansion that’s been around for six years and has failed to gain traction as a stand-alone bill. Make no mistake, this bill, first championed by Eliot Spitzer, is radical and far out of the mainstream, even by the standards of New York, a state with an abortion rate twice the national average. It will permit more late-term abortions, allow non-doctors to perform abortions, and will preclude any reasonable restrictions on abortion like parental notification. Moreover it would permit the state to pull the operating certificate of Catholic hospitals and agencies that ‘discriminate’ by not performing or referring women for abortions.
“The extreme nature of the bill has seriously limited its support in the Legislature. So now the governor is attempting to tie it to important initiatives such as helping victims of domestic violence and human trafficking, and ending pregnancy discrimination in the workplace. He believes the ‘all-in’ strategy will make it harder to oppose. The public and lawmakers should not be fooled. We must not let victims of abuse and discrimination be held hostage to Governor Cuomo’s ideologically driven political agenda, an agenda that is extremely harmful to mothers, infants and religious liberty.
“An abortion expansion in New York State will not foster women’s health or women’s dignity. New Yorkers want their leaders to take action to decrease the state’s abortion rate and reduce the tragedy for women and families. We would like to work with them to do just that.”