Co-authored with John Jalsevac
ALBANY, NY, June 4, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – New York Governor Andrew Cuomo unveiled a bill that would radically expand abortion-on-demand in the Empire State today.
In a press conference, Cuomo at long last revealed the text of his “Women's Equality Act,” a 10-point plan putatively aimed at strengthening women's rights. However, one plank would remove abortion from the state's penal code and affirm abortion at any point during pregnancy if the mother's “health” is in danger – a category so broad it could allow virtually any abortion at any time.
New York State Right to Life slammed the bill as “a Trojan Horse – a beautifully gift-wrapped package of death and destruction.”
Charmaine Yoest of Americans United for Life (AUL) said that if the bill passes, “New York will be sanctioning unrestricted, virtually unregulated, and taxpayer-funded abortion-on-demand, making it the most radically pro-abortion state in the nation.”
In a statement the state's Catholic bishops expressed concern that in addition to expanding late-term abortion, the bill also appears to be “opening the door for non-doctors to perform abortions.” They added that they “find the conscience protections in the bill to be vague and insufficient” and said that they “are concerned about the religious liberty of our health facilities.”
New York state law currently allows abortions past 24 weeks only to save the “life” of the mother, and only doctors may perform them legally. The state already boasts the highest abortion rate of any state in the union. According to the most recent data from the Guttmacher Institute, the abortion-industry think tank, 33 percent of New York pregnancies ended in abortion in 2008.
Cuomo defended the measure in a guest blog on The Huffington Post today, stating that his proposal changes nothing but merely “codifies in state law the reproductive rights afforded by Roe.”
“I see it almost as a bill of rights,” Governor Cuomo said about the legislation, refusing to abandon the abortion plank. “We don’t believe you have to give up any of the 10.”
“It’s not a bill that extends, that takes abortion to a level that would be difficult to explain,” he said. “It affirms current rights.”
He also stated that no individual health care provider can be forced into “providing an abortion due to religious or moral beliefs.”
However, according to the Catholic bishops, the bill “is selective in its codification” of Roe.
“Nowhere does it address the portions of federal laws that limit abortion, such as the ban on taxpayer funding, the ban on partial birth abortion or protections for unborn victims of violence,” said the bishops.
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One of the women Cuomo invited to introduce the bill was Sarah Weddington, the lead attorney in the Roe v. Wade case.
The bill drew strong rebuke from the state's pro-life movement and the GOP State Senate leadership.
“The Governor’s newly released abortion agenda involves enshrining a barbaric federal law from the last century,” said Lori Kehoe, the executive director of NYS Right to Life. “Under Roe v. Wade, abortionists like Kermit Gosnell can kill babies with a heartbeat, babies capable of feeling pain, babies who are full term and waiting to be born. Instead of protecting these children, the governor is dragging New York in the wrong direction.
“If the governor has his way, third trimester abortion will become commonplace in New York State,” she added. “This will expand abortion and increase the already staggering death toll.”
Kelly Cummings, spokeswoman for GOP Senate Minority Leader Dean Skellos, called the abortion provisions in the bill “a political maneuver designed to curry favor with the extremists who want to expand late-term abortion, and open the door to non-physicians performing abortions. It’s wrong for New York.”
Cardinal Timothy Dolan said this afternoon that he is “profoundly distressed” by the bill. Although he supports the act's other nine points, he asked the state's Catholics to “fully oppose” the bill as long as it contains the abortion expansion language.
Cardinal Dolan raised eyebrows during a recent interview with Fred Dicker, when he said, despite the governor's push to expand abortion, he would not question Cuomo's standing as a good Catholic and was convinced Cuomo “wants to work very closely with the pro-life community to provide alternatives to abortion.”
The state's Republican leadership has stated that while it seeks common ground on the bill's other provisions, such as fighting human trafficking and domestic violence, it will oppose any broad abortion expansion.
Cuomo's bill is supported by NARAL New York Pro-Choice President Andrea Miller and Sex and the City star Cynthia Nixon.
The decision to make the bill's language public follows Governor Cuomor's statement in April that he would not release specific legislative language for perusal, because that would be “counterproductive.”
Bill Donohue of the Catholic League said the extreme measure may have wrecked Cuomo's national political aspirations, which are well known.
“Andrew Cuomo's lust for abortion rights has effectively killed his chances of ever becoming president of the United States,” said Donohue. “Once he ventures outside the Empire State he will find out – the way his father Mario did – just how out of touch he is with public sentiment on this life and death issue.”