By John Jalsevac
  NEW YORK, NY, February 19, 2008 ( – The Catholic Church in New York State has launched a full-fledged attack against some of the United States’ most pro-abortion legislation – the so-called Reproductive Health and Privacy Protection Act (RHPPA), which was unveiled last April by Governor Eliot Spitzer. According to Governor Spitzer the bill was launched in response to the Bush Government’s progressive “rolling-back” of abortion “rights” in America, which is especially exemplified by the ban on partial-birth abortion.

  The RHPPA seeks, amongst other measures, to make a positive “right” to abortion in New York law. According to Kathleen Gallagher, spokesman for the New York Catholic Conference, in so doing the bill seeks to “shut down the legislative process in regard to abortion.” The consequence, Gallagher told LifeSiteNews in an interview today, is that “reasonable regulations like parental notification, or restrictions on taxpayer funding, could never be enacted in the future.”

  According to a government summary of the act, the act would ensure that a woman has the “right…to terminate a pregnancy prior to viability or whenever necessary to protect her life or health.”

  The legislation, if passed, would also make an “emergency” exception to a current stipulation that there must be a second doctor present in the case of an abortion that is performed post-viability, opening the door to virtual abortion-on-demand throughout all nine months pregnancy. It would also authorize non-physicians to perform abortions, and would remove the age restriction for purchasing the over-the-counter morning-after pill.

  Governor Spitzer has recently stepped up pressure on the New York legislature and Senate to pass the Act. During his January 9th State of the State Address, Spitzer referred specifically to the bill, saying, “We must also make a commitment to women’s health. Given the continued efforts at the federal level to dismantle protections for women’s reproductive health and privacy, I ask you to pass the Reproductive Health and Privacy Protection Act.”

  The precarious political situation in New York at present leaves open the possibility that, if brought to a vote, the bill could pass. The Senate is currently controlled by the Republicans, but only by two members, whereas the Assembly is strongly controlled by the Democrats.

  However, in response to the mounting pressure from the governor to have the Act passed, the Catholic Church in the state has in turn mounted an escalating campaign against the Act. In the past few weeks the Catholic Conference of New York has released and sent out copies of an 15-minute educational video on the Act, has uploaded a shorter version of the video onto Youtube, has sent out over 100,000 pamphlets to be distributed in parishes, as well as post-cards, fliers, bulletin inserts and petitions.

  Besides the Church’s basic concern about a law that would sanction as a fundamental “right” the killing of thousands of unborn children, Church representatives have also expressed their concern that the legislation could be interpreted as having removed all conscience exceptions that would allow physicians and hospitals to opt-out of performing abortions.

“Our legal interpretation,” Gallagher told LifeSiteNews, “is that the bill says the state may not discriminate against the fundamental right to abortion, in the benefits, services or information that the state provides. If you take that step by step, the state is the entity that licenses hospitals, the state is the entity that licenses doctors and nurses. The state gives out funding to hospitals and charitable foundations. Those are all benefits of the state.

“If the state finds a hospital is not performing abortions, or a doctor refuses to perform abortions, the state could say ‘You’re discriminating against the fundamental right to abortions. Therefore we’re not going to give you any of the state benefits. We’re not going to license you. We’re not going to give you any state funding.’”

  The governor’s office is, however, at present denying that the law could be interpreted as removing conscience restrictions. “Nobody will be required to perform an abortion,” assistant counsel to the governor, Lisa Ullman, said.

  Representatives of the Church have in turn responded that if the intent is not to force institutions to perform abortions, then the obvious solution would be to amend the bill to state this fact clearly. “Why not include specific language that says the bill does not apply to institutions owned, operated or sponsored by a religious institution?” asked Dennis Poust, a spokesman for the Catholic Conference. “They are well aware of our concerns and have been shown zero interest in amending the bill. We have had lengthy discussions at the highest level of the administration on this and have gotten the cold shoulder.”

  Gallagher said that the Catholic Church in New York is “pulling out the stops” to ensure that the Act never becomes law. “We’re trying to educate people and mobilize people.” In addition to its various other efforts, the New York Catholic conference has also posted an action alert on their website, where citizens can send e-mails directly to their lawmakers. To date that link has resulted in 24,000 e-mails.

  Visit the Catholic Conference’s website at:

  View the Youtube video on the governor’s bill at:

  Write Governor Spitzer at:

  Eliot Spitzer
  State Capitol
  Albany, NY 12224
  Telephone: 518-474-8390