A lead story on the NYS Catholic Conference website is the call for faithful Catholics to strongly oppose Gov. Cuomo’s NYS Abortion Expansion Bill, S-438. And the timing is urgent, as it could come out of committee within days. The Public Policy Day in Albany is not until March, and the track record of passing bills behind closed doors, sometimes in the dead of night, and without public input, is special cause for concern.
So what is the Diocese of Rochester’s public policy priority now? You will see it next weekend, on February 9-10th when pew petitions will ignore the threat of a seriously expanded intrinsic evil, and instead advocate for money, to subsidize some families’ child-care, which DoR reports can cost “up to $14,000 per year.” Myriad questions are left unanswered, including who would be eligible and for how much and if this would simply route income to parents and grandparents who already take care of those children. But there are much greater matters than the details of the pew petition. There has seemed to be an attitude for years that the people in the pew get handed a petition to sign, whether they know the details or not, and they will simply pay, pray and obey. After the Fortnight for Freedom last year, hopefully we won’t ever be quite the same again in not questioning how so much emphasis is put on matters of prudential judgment (often equated to tax dollars), when intrinsic evils flourish unchallenged.
The intrinsic evil flourishing right now is the ever-deepening intrinsic evil of abortion, right up to the moment of birth. And, unless we deceive ourselves, we should already know that there are movements afoot in Europe to allow murder of children up to two years after birth. Can anyone seriously believe that atrocity won’t be next down the slippery slope?
The Diocese of Rochester’s Public Policy Committee isn’t putting a petition in the pew to prevent Cuomo’s bullying his way into the killing of more babies; it is rather using the petitioning opportunity to call for funds for baby sitting rather than to defeat S-438. Child care is important, but such subsidies are not nearly as important as keeping babies alive in the first place. To read the full call from The NYS Catholic Conference to oppose S-438, go here. Or simply consider the contrast of the excerpt from the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Syracuse to excerpts from the DoR website and from a DoR church (Resurrection in Fairport):
This guidance in Syracuse is against an intrinsic evil (thus, is a morally binding teaching). The DoR’s public policy is regarding a matter of “prudential judgment” (i.e. validly open to lay, well-formed opinion). There is no real comparison.
New York State Catholic Conference calls itself the “Official Voice of the Catholic Church in the Empire State” and a unified Voice for all New York State Catholics. How can the Rochester Diocese’s priorities be so different from the statewide priority? The New York State Catholic Conference represents the Bishops of the state in working with government to shape laws and policies that pursue social justice, respect for life and the common good.
What message will the governor and his legislators get when subsidizing day care is the matter for petitions, but S-438 is not? What message do Catholics get?
As the conference states: “This bill does not simply “update” New York law or codify Roe vs. Wade. It would usher in extreme and sweeping changes to abortion policy in New York State. The bill would permit unlimited late-term abortion on demand.
Current state law says abortions are legal in New York through 24 weeks of pregnancy (Article 125 Penal Law), but outlawed after that unless they are necessary to save a woman’s life. This bill would repeal that law and insert a “health” exception, broadly interpreted by the courts to include age, economic, social and emotional factors. It is an exception that will allow more third-trimester abortions in New York State, a policy which the public strongly disapproves.
This ignores the state’s legitimate interest in protecting the lives of fully formed children in the womb, and ignores the will of a majority of New Yorkers who oppose late-term abortion.
The bill would endanger the lives of women by allowing non-physicians to perform abortions. While current law states that only a “duly licensed physician” may perform an abortion, this bill would allow any “licensed health care practitioner” to perform the procedure prior to viability. This dangerous and extreme change clearly puts women’s health at risk, and mirrors a national abortion strategy to permit non-doctors to perform abortions due to the declining number of physicians willing to do so.
The bill would preclude any future reasonable regulations of abortion. It would establish a “fundamental right of privacy” within New York State law, encompassing the right “to terminate a pregnancy,” even though the Supreme Court has rejected, numerous times, classifying abortion as a “fundamental right.” Therefore, it is impossible to say that this legislation simply “codifies Roe vs. Wade” in New York law. It goes well beyond Roe.
The Court has said that states may regulate abortion, as long as those regulations do not place an “undue burden” on the right to an abortion. This bill says that abortion is fundamental and thus untouchable – no regulations on abortion, ever. No parental notification for minors’ abortions, no limits on taxpayer funding of abortion, no limits on late-term abortions, no informed consent for pregnant women seeking abortion. None of the common sense regulations enacted by the vast majority of states and supported by large majorities of the public would be allowed in New York.
The bill endangers the religious liberty of Catholic hospitals and other institutions. While the bill contains limited conscience protection, that protection is ambiguous and inadequate and is extended only to individual health providers who do not wish to “provide” abortions (protection that is already guaranteed by Civil Rights law.) What is not provided in the bill are protections for institutional providers, such as religious hospitals and other agencies that do not wish to be involved with abortion.
The bill declares that “the state shall not discriminate” against the exercise of the fundamental right to abortion in the “provision of benefits, facilities, services or information.” In other words, it would permit state regulators, such as the State Health Department or State Insurance Department, to require support for abortion from any agency or institution licensed or funded by the state. The bill could be used to undermine the state’s maternity programs. In a similar way, these beneficial programs, which are working well to reduce infant mortality, could be ruled “discriminatory” for favoring childbirth over abortion, and be denied state benefits if this bill were to become law.
The abortion expansion bill is uncompromising in its terms and extremely sweeping in scope. The bill goes against the increasingly pro-life sentiment in this country, as evidenced by the most recent Marist poll (December 2012) which found that more than 8 in 10 Americans favor significant restrictions on abortion. The Gallup Organization (May 2011) found that only 27% of Americans believe abortion should be legal under all circumstances. The majority of American adults (61%) believe abortion should either be more strictly limited than current law or not permitted at all. Not only does the bill defy public opinion, but it also defies common sense.
New York State remains the abortion capital of the nation with the highest abortion rate of any state. New York City’s abortion rate remains at 40%, with some geographic regions within the city at 60%. The reality is that no woman is without ample opportunity for an abortion in New York State. Rather than voting on a bill that will increase the tragedy of abortion, we urge policy makers to look at constructive ways to reduce abortion and truly make abortion “rare.” We strongly urge you to oppose the abortion expansion bill.”
Contrast the well-thought out, explict arguments from the Catholic Conference, above, to the bulletin letter from Sr. Joan Cawley, the Pastoral Administrator who is head of Resurrection Parish:
Next weekend (February 9th and 10th) we will be asked to sign a petition at Mass, not to stop the killing of babies, but to dole out money on nebulous and unspecified terms for child care. It is not merely a matter of disordered priorities, but it is a matter of truly misleading the people in the pews who reasonably may rely that a diocesan committee of dedicated souls has examined all the issues and made a reasoned and holy choice. Such a priority impairs the very trust that should exist among the people of God.
What should we do? Certainly contacting our legislators to oppose S-438 is called for, lest our silence become endorsement. Certainly spreading the word to others is crucial too. But to let the misdirection of the DoR Public Policy Committee go unchallenged is wrong. At a minimum, it seems reasonable to take the petition in the pew and mark it up to fit our convictions. How about “Kill S-438; NOT BABIES!”
Added since original posting: Here are two links for more information in opposition to S-438:
Here is a good article from the Ithaca Journal:
Here is a good letter to the editor from Syracuse:
In contrast to the above links from the secular papers, we have the Catholic Courier on-line yesterday (2/4/13) with its article entitled “Petition calls for quality child care” by Mike Latona, completely ignoring the expansion of abortion through S-438. It begins: “In an era when good investment returns are increasingly hard to attain….” and that shows the whole orientation—urging Cuomo et al to invest our (taxpayers’) money of $300 million annually in child care subsidies, while other children are being murdered in the womb. And we are expected to believe in the relevance of THAT public policy? I think not. What is the purpose? Give up on S-438 for a financial incentive? I hope not. Support a diversion of attention away from fighting intrinsic evil? I dare not.
It is interesting that the DoR “argument” states that “a full-time worker earning the minimum wage of $7.25 per hour makes only $15,080 annually”, ignoring that if there isn’t someone home to take care of children, shouldn’t (in many, not all, cases) TWO WAGE EARNERS salaries be used? A convenient oversight. Also, the child care cost has been down-pedalled a bit from the DoR website to ”$8,000 for preschool child care and up to $12,000 for infants.” Some fact checking after the fact? No references were given to the other so-called claims, either, so we don’t have the information to either verify or to dispute.
Oh, DoR did mention 2 other initiatives as well. Neither one was to defeat S-438. The link is http://www.catholiccourier.com/news/local-news/petition-calls-for-quality-child-care/ if you can stomach it.