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Leftist ‘fact-checking’ site denies New York’s new law allows ‘unrestricted’ abortion until birth

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PETITION: Say "NO" to celebrating abortion by lighting up One World Trade Center! Sign the petition here.

January 29, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – The left-wing “fact-checking” website Snopes has waded into the controversy over New York’s radical new abortion law, claiming that pro-life characterizations of the law’s handling of late-term abortions are only partially true.

Last week, New York’s state Senate voted 38-24 and the state Assembly 92-47 in favor of the so-called “Reproductive Health Act” (RHA). Democrat Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the bill, calling it a “historic victory for New Yorkers and our progressive values” and ordering the One World Trade Center spire to be lit in pink to mark the occasion – the same building where a memorial recognizes eleven preborn children killed in the September 11 terror attacks.

The new law declares, “Every individual who becomes pregnant has the fundamental right to choose to carry the pregnancy to term, to give birth to a child, or to have an abortion,” erases the state’s recognition of preborn babies older than 24 weeks as potential homicide victims, removes abortion from the penal code entirely, and allows licensed health practitioners other than full doctors to commit abortions.

The New York State Right to Life Committee warns that by declaring abortion a “fundamental right,” it opens the door to invalidating “any limits on abortion” and “mandat[ing] that everyone take part in the culture of death”; prevents pregnant women whose babies are killed in violent attacks from seeing justice; and has the effect of “authorizing infanticide” by repealing the requirement that a second physician be on hand in the event that an attempted abortion past 20 weeks yields a live infant.

Last week, Snopes published a “fact check” claiming it was a “mixture” of true and false to say that the law legalizes abortions “up to birth,” because while it does permit late-term abortions “if the mother's health is at risk or there is an absence of fetal viability,” such abortions are not “unrestricted.”

The piece quotes the RHA’s explanation that an abortion may be committed past 24 weeks if the “health care practitioner” committing it (who no longer has to be a doctor) determines “there is an absence of fetal viability, or the abortion is necessary to protect the patient’s life or health.” But few (if any) pro-lifers claim there’s no process for approving such abortions in New York; they argue “health” is so vague a threshold as to be effectively meaningless.

Snopes briefly quotes pro-life concerns to that effect, then pro-abortion writer Jessica Smock’s response that it’s “only true if you do not trust medical professionals to make informed, professional decisions for which they have been extensively trained and licensed, in consultation with the women in their care.”

“Do we honestly believe that doctors and other medical care providers will risk their licensure and professional lives to perform medically unnecessary procedures because pregnant women wake up one day at six months or seven months pregnant and decide that they don’t want to be pregnant anymore?” Smock asks. “Do we show the same mistrust of any other medical professionals who perform other medical procedures?”

Neither Smock nor Snopes addresses the basis for such concerns: Doe v. Bolton, the Supreme Court’s companion ruling to Roe v. Wade that defined how “health” was to be understood in the context of abortion.  

“[M]edical judgment may be exercised in the light of all factors – physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman’s age – relevant to the wellbeing of the patient. All these factors may relate to health,” the Bolton Court declared. “This allows the attending physician the room he needs to make his best medical judgment.” With such broad latitude and no objective criteria, it’s unclear how abortionists acting within this framework would be risking their careers.

Pro-life leaders, commentators, and private citizens across the country have spoken out against New York’s radical new law. Many Catholic observers are calling on Church leaders in the state to deny Holy Communion to Cuomo and othe pro-abortion lawmakers who purport to be Catholic. LifeSiteNews’ petition condemning New York’s celebration of the radical new law has collected more than 120,000 signatures so far.

Cuomo dismissed Catholic-based criticism of him for signing the law Monday, claiming, “I’m not here to represent a religion. I’m here to represent all the people and the constitutional rights and limitations for all the people.”

Snopes originally rose to prominence as an entertaining resource for confirming or debunking urban legends, but as political “fact-checking” gained popularity over the years it grew increasingly liberal, and its reliability increasingly disputed. Earlier this month, Snopes claimed it was “problematic” to call abortion a leading cause of death, because abortion supporters deny that preborn humans die in abortions.

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