N.Y. bishops decry new abortion law signed on Roe anniversary

Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger of Albany, N.Y., pictured in a Jan. 21, 2015, photo, had urged New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to stop the "Death Star" as he called a bill in the state Legislature to expand current state law on abortion. On Jan. 22, the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's 1973 Roe decision legalizing abortion nationwide, the Legislature passed the Reproductive Health Act and Cuomo, a Catholic, signed it into law. (CNS photo/Bob Roller) 

ALBANY, N.Y. (CNS) -- New York state "has become a more dangerous one for women and their unborn babies" with the passage of a bill to expand abortion called the Reproductive Health Act and Gov. Andrew Cuomo's signing it into law, said the New York State Catholic Conference.

"Today, New York state has added a sad chapter to this already solemn date of Jan. 22, the anniversary of Roe v. Wade," the conference said in a statement.

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"Many of the state senators and Assembly members who voted for this abortion expansion are mothers themselves, who felt their child toss, turn and kick in their womb, and delighted in the progress of their pregnancy," the conference continued.

"Many others, as well as our governor, are fathers, who held their partner's hand as they viewed the ultrasound videos, watched their child squirm and rejoiced at the first sound of a heartbeat," it said. "Many of these same officials were themselves born into less-than-perfect conditions -- poverty, health problems, disabilities, broken families.

"All overcame these issues to rise to leadership in our state, because their parents chose life for them," it added.

The new law, which was fully backed by Cuomo, a Catholic.

Ahead of the final vote, Albany Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger issued an open letter to Cuomo published Jan. 19 at evangelist.org, the website of The Evangelist, Albany's diocesan newspaper.

The New York State Catholic Conference released a statement signed by all the Catholic bishops of the state urging the bill not be passed.

He had urged Cuomo not to let the bill, which he termed a "Death Star," become law and he warned that he and many fear it will lead to the determination that one day "being pro-life" will be "a hate crime in the state of New York.

Two days before his letter appeared, the New York State Catholic Conference released a statement signed by all the Catholic bishops of the state urging the bill not be passed.

Among its provisions are: granting nondoctors permission to perform abortions; removing protection for an infant accidentally born alive during an abortion; and allowing late-term abortions.

In its Jan. 22 statement, the Catholic conference thanks all who partnered with the Catholic Church "in the 12-year-long fight to stop this horrendous policy, and all pro-life New Yorkers who made their voices heard in an effort to stop it."

"Let us all pray for the conversion of heart for those who celebrate this tragic moment in the history of our state," it said. "And we pray in a special way for the lives that will be lost, and for the women of our state who are made less safe under this law."

The conference represents the state's Catholic bishops in public policy matters.

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Nora Bolcon
7 months ago

First off, I and most Catholics, want our bishops to keep their noses and influence out of politics. Law making is politics. Your own agenda is sexist and oppressive towards women and the laity. That is why states are rushing to make extreme pro-choice legislation now. Your Jesuit trained justices are readying themselves to attack women and this law and others are a direct reaction to that agenda you put forth. Don't like it?! Stay the hell out of politics! You can't serve two masters: either you want Spiritual Power from God, as is appropriate for a bishop, or you want Worldly Power from political involvement and prestige but you must pick one, or the greater power will be kept from you.

The problem is that our church leaders have been lying to women for over a decade about why they are against abortion being legal and why they are against quality birth control - even the kind that does not abort, being given to women. They say they care about the women and the unborn - nonsense! They want to control women thru their reproductive systems. They want to keep women constantly pregnant and raising children so they won't have time to have a career and use their brains in life to do other things besides just raise a family. They also want women off their backs demanding women's ordination and equality in our church. Catholic women and men are finally sick of the lies and we are damned angry. Time for Truth!

Truth: Catholic Charities has refused even the poorest women in the world birth control, even in places like Africa, where children in some areas are not living past five years old due to starvation and poverty. Women just keep giving birth and watch their children die over and over again. Even in places like India where many women have a baby every year until they finally die at their 9th-11th birth and never get to see any of their children grow up. These women have had no choice because their husbands refuse to abstain in order to protect their wives from constant pregnancy. Catholic Charities has often tried to keep other secular charities from giving poor women birth control too, if they have been present in a village first, or they scare poor women from accepting birth control, usually by lying to them about its effects.

All of the above is true, despite the fact that for more than a decade our church leaders have known what the World Health Organization and Guttmacher have researched. (See evidence below) All global evidence indicates that every country where abortion and birth control are a crime or difficult to access, there exists greater amounts of abortion and maternal deaths - much higher amounts of both! We are not saving the born or the unborn - quite the opposite - with our supposed Pro-Life Stand.

While Roe v. Wade stands in effect, the U.S. and Western Europe have the most lenient laws regarding abortion and birth control access and the lowest abortion rates compared to all countries which have more restricted abortion and birth control. Even in the U.S. since 2014, in some states that have made access to abortion very difficult, there has been seen a rise in self-abortion with devastating results.

Maybe if our church leaders stopped lying to us, we would care more what they think. Like in this article, where it states protections against aborted fetuses born alive have been removed - that is not what the law really states. Nowhere does the law state that if a fetus is born alive and viable and able to sustain its own bodily functions to continue living, that anyone has a right to intentionally kill it after it is born. All that has changed is that if a fetus dies quickly after being aborted because it can't sustain its own life, then the doctor or physician assistant, etc. can't be arrested and jailed for murder or any crime because they didn't try to take extreme measures to try and save it's life. This affects only fairly late term abortions which are still pretty rare, even in the U.S., and usually happen because the women is having severe complications with her pregnancy that might indeed risk her own life - like pre-eclampsia. Our church leaders would like you to just let mom have a stroke. So a mid-wife and or physician is still willing to abort in these extreme cases to save the women's life, this protection is put in effect. Otherwise, women would be left unaided in these circumstances, and both the mother and the fetus would likely die.

Already, our mother last priority, in the U.S., has left the U.S. as the most dangerous country to give birth in outside of the actual 3rd world.

Meanwhile, there is no evidence indicating that abortion rises in any country that allows abortion throughout pregnancy and allows easy access to abortion, as long as that country also has easy and free access to quality birth control. See evidence about the truth of the effects of illegalizing abortion below:

From Guttmacher: Abortion and Birth Control Stats.
(Notes from my other research on this topic - bottom)
REGIONAL INCIDENCE AND TRENDS:
• The highest annual rate of abortion in 2010–2014 was in the Caribbean, estimated at 59 per 1,000 women of childbearing age, followed by South America, at 48.
The lowest rates were in Northern America, at 17, and Western and Northern Europe—at 16 and 18, respectively.
• Across regions, Eastern Europe experienced the largest decline in the abortion rate, from 88 in 1990–1994 to 42 in 2010–2014. Despite this decline, there is a persistent gap in rates between Eastern and Western Europe (42 vs. 16) likely reflecting lower use of effective, modern contraceptive methods in Eastern Europe.
• The overall abortion rate in Africa was 34 per 1,000 women in 2010–2014. Subregional rates ranged from 31 in Western Africa to 38 in Northern Africa. There has been little if any change in abortion rates in these subregions since 1990–1994.
• For Latin America, subregional abortion rates range from 33 in Central America to 48 in South America. Rates have increased slightly since 1990–1994, but not by statistically significant amounts.
• Abortion rates in Asia have also fallen since 1990–1994, although not significantly. Asia’s subregions all have rates close to the regional average of 36 per 1,000 women.
• Highly restrictive abortion laws are not associated with lower abortion rates. When countries are grouped according to the grounds under which the procedure is legal, the rate is 37 abortions per 1,000 women of childbearing age where it is prohibited altogether or allowed only to save a woman’s life, compared with 34 per 1,000 where it is available on request, a nonsignificant difference.
• High levels of unmet need for contraception help explain the prevalence of abortion in countries with restrictive abortion laws.

What I have researched from other appropriate sources agrees with Guttmacher but also indicates the below information on this subject:
The World Health Organization Research agrees with the Guttmacher Research. Their results are almost identical.

However, neither the W.H.O. or Guttmacher can give us a solid conclusion, due to lack of evidence, as to what happens when countries offer easy access to quality birth control but make their abortion laws stricter. This is due to the fact that most countries either are lenient on both issues or they are strict on access to both abortion and birth control.

We could make some confident speculation, based on the global evidence that does exist, that in countries, currently, where laws are strict for both abortion and birth control or where both are criminalized, that were these countries to loosen up laws on birth control access alone and not on abortion, the abortion rates would come down more, and likely closer to where the Western and developed nations are at. However, these countries are not necessarily or likely to get quite as low as the western, industrialized, countries since there does exist evidence that the mere difficulty of access to abortion alone lends, especially in certain cases, to higher abortion rates by itself.

Unfortunately, in the countries where the laws for abortion become much stricter than in the past, such as may exist in the U.S. for the future, the amount of abortions could increase quite a bit even if birth control access remains easy and free. One of the reasons this is true is due to the fact that, in these countries, many women who get pregnant in their later years, 40s or older, often now seek to get an amnio to see if their fetus is healthy. They can only get this during the late part of the 3rd month or beginning of the fourth month of their pregnancy. With stricter laws, some of these women may decide they don't want to take the chance the fetus is unhealthy or has downs syndrome, and instead may opt to get an early abortion thru more easily, anonymously obtained, although perhaps illegally obtained, abortion pills. These pills become not an option in later months, and testing would put women in a position to not be able to deny they are pregnant, publicly, if they wait, so this puts the women at risk they could be charged with a crime if abortion becomes illegal. (Please note: I am not suggesting this is right or moral or Christian behavior but only that the reality exist and I personally know quite a few women who would fit this category, today, in the U.S. despite anyone's opinions or beliefs)

A horrible side effect of the above situation is this: 50% of all downs fetuses naturally miscarry in the first trimester, and 40% that make it to the 2nd trimester miscarry then. Fetuses that have other severe health issues often miscarry, naturally, within the first three - four months of pregnancy as well. The amount of downs fetuses that become born infants are very small amounts even for older women. This illness is still quite rare overall. This means many women could end up aborting perfectly healthy fetuses, by the thousands, each year, or more, to avoid the possibility of having an unhealthy baby, and this number increases if women already have other children. One way some western countries avoid this issue is that they keep early abortions legal and allow later abortions into the 4th and 5th month if the fetus has tested unhealthy or the woman's life is in real danger if she remains pregnant. Many married older women think they aren't fertile when they still are and stop taking birth control.

Lastly, there is no existing evidence that easy access to abortions, even throughout pregnancy, equates to more abortions, in any country, that has free and easy access to birth control. In fact, countries with easy access to abortion and also free easy access to birth control have the lowest rates in the world, and these rates lower even more when those countries offer mandated longer paid maternity/paternity leaves, free quality universal health care, and free, quality, public daycare. (The only exception to this seems to be Sweden. Despite Sweden's similarly ease of access to both abortion and birth control and it's offering many of the benefits listed above that other Western European Countries offer, it still has quite a high abortion rate. However, there is no evidence suggesting that tightening Sweden's existing laws would lower its rate for abortion and doing so would likely only raise it even higher.)

The evidence we do have seems to indicate, on a global scale, that despite what seems reasonable in theory, i.e., harsh abortion laws will lower abortion rates, is completely false when put to the test in reality. It just may be that easy access to abortion, and lenient abortion laws, help more to reduce abortion rates than having strict laws against abortion, in any country. Perhaps some morality issues simply cannot be solved by force or threat but must instead be dealt with by respecting the situation of the people involved and helping them out of their place of fear or desperation, with physical and material protections and emotional and spiritual support. We could do much more perhaps by encouraging a choice for good, and for life, without attempting to control women. We could choose to help women in real ways, instead of trying to corner them into doing the Christian thing.

Mike Fitzpatrick
7 months ago

Reply to Nora: You sound like a very angry person. The Bishops are just letting their religious and theological views be known. How does this hurt you? You don't follow their canons or encyclicals. You have no idea of the theology behind Catholic marriage, children and the use of contraception. Regarding abortion, yes, Roe is the law but NY has moved far from Roe.
I don't hate abortion because the Church tells me to, I hate abortion because I am a human being.

Terry Kane
7 months ago

Mike -
You are so right.
However, when given the choice, I'd rather roe versus wade across the river.

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