Explainer: What New York’s new abortion law does and doesn’t do

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, seen here at a news conference on Jan. 29, has been criticized by Catholic and pro-life leaders for signing a state law guaranteeing wide access to abortion. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink, File)New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, seen here at a news conference on Jan. 29, has been criticized by Catholic and pro-life leaders for signing a state law guaranteeing wide access to abortion. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink, File)

Last week, on the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, New York state enacted a new abortion law, called the Reproductive Health Act. A long-term goal of pro-choice advocates, the law was passed by the newly elected Democratic majority in the state Senate and signed by Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo. The governor even ordered that One World Trade Center in New York City and several other New York state landmarks be lit in pink to celebrate the legislative victory.

While pro-choice advocates were celebrating, the pro-life movement described the R.H.A. as a tragedy, arguing that it legalized abortion up to the point of birth. Defenders of the law described it as a bulwark for women’s rights, designed to guarantee that even if the Supreme Court were to overturn or limit its decision in Roe, abortion access in New York would be maintained. Much of the coverage describing the law and its effects has been polarizing, with advocates on each side describing each other’s accounts of it as biased.


Much of the coverage describing the law and its effects has been polarizing, with advocates on each side describing each other’s accounts of it as biased.

As with any charged and divisive issue, the choice of emphasis and focus in coverage can give the same facts very different interpretations and implications—and it is likely that I will be accused of doing the same in this article. Both I and America magazine are strongly pro-life and not on the sidelines of this argument. However, it is worth trying to get to a more even-handed account of what the law does and does not do in order to have a clearer conversation about it, even if we do not expect to fully convince people on the other side.

Much of the disagreement and confusion around what the law does is the result of which abortion cases advocates choose to focus on. Pro-life advocates argue that the R.H.A. potentially allows the most extreme forms of abortion without any serious restriction—and they are right. Pro-choice advocates respond that the late-term abortions up to the point of birth that pro-lifers highlight are rare and almost always involve cases of extreme medical complexity—and they are right.

Before unpacking in detail what the law does and does not do, let me highlight two points that this disagreement tends to obscure.

What is being missed in the debate over the law?

First: One major aim of the law was to change the terms of the debate. Its practical effects on the number of abortions conducted in the state of New York are likely to be fairly small. The primary reason for its passage was to stake out New York’s position in favor both of preserving and expanding Roe v. Wade’s guarantee of access to abortion. And the way the law accomplishes that is to remove anything in New York law that could have been interpreted to limit abortion or to extend any protection to a child before birth.

New York already has one of the highest rates of abortion in the country.

Second: New York already has one of the highest rates of abortion in the country. In New York City, about one in every three pregnancies ends in abortion. To judge by the numbers, a lack of access to abortion in New York is not a problem. But these extremely high rates tell us that far too many women are facing pregnancies in circumstances where abortion seems to them to be their best or only choice. Many of the potential explanations for this—an extremely high cost of living, a lack of affordable housing, and scarce availability of parental support and child care—deserve attention from policymakers and could be points of agreement between pro-life and pro-choice activists. Unfortunately, those issues do not get anywhere near the attention that the arguments about late-term abortions do, even though they are deeply involved in the (far more numerous) early abortions.

Does the R.H.A. allow abortion up to the point of birth?

The new law allows abortion under any of three conditions: (1) if it is performed earlier than 24 weeks of pregnancy; (2) in an “absence of fetal viability”; or (3) if necessary to “protect the patient’s life or health.”

So abortion is allowed without any restrictions during the first and second trimesters. Later than that, the question is how fetal viability and protection of the life and health of the mother are determined. The R.H.A. says that those judgments are to be made according to “the practitioner's reasonable and good faith professional judgment based on the facts of the patient's case”; it does not impose any objective medical standard.

Pro-life critics point out that the exception for the health of the mother is broad enough to cover basically any possible late-term abortion.

Pro-life critics of the law are pointing out that the exception for health, which is not restricted to a physical definition and can be interpreted to cover psychological and emotional health, subject only to the medical judgment of the abortion provider, is broad enough to cover basically any possible late-term abortion. Insofar as the goal of the law was to guarantee access to abortion and remove restrictions on it, this is part and parcel of that goal. The new law does not contain any meaningful restriction that is likely to ever prevent an abortion.

Pro-choice advocates point out that one reason for that is that the very small fraction of abortions that are conducted at 21 weeks or later (a little more than 1 percent) are almost always in response to some medical issue. Those issues could include acute risks to the life of the mother or conditions that make the child unable to survive to birth—but they also include situations where the child would face a terminal condition, significant suffering or a severe disability after birth, and where abortion is chosen to “spare” the child such pain. However, some providers have acknowledged that they are willing to perform late-term abortions even absent medical necessity, though it is impossible to estimate how many late-term abortions fall under that description.

Does the R.H.A. allow non-physicians to perform abortions?

Yes. The law specifies that a “health care practitioner licensed, certified, or authorized” under New York’s medical licensing laws can perform an abortion and make the professional judgments described above. This means that it is possible that licensed nurse practitioners or physician assistants could perform abortions.

Does the R.H.A. define “human person” to exclude unborn children?

This is complicated. In addition to the provisions explicitly allowing abortion discussed above, the R.H.A. also modifies sections of the New York state penal code to eliminate references to abortion. Prior to these changes, the definition of homicide included causing the death of a person (defined as “a human being who has been born and is alive”) or of an unborn child if the woman has been pregnant for more than 24 weeks.

Prior to these changes, the definition of homicide included causing the death of an unborn child if the woman has been pregnant for more than 24 weeks.

After the removal of abortion from the penal code, the existing definition of person as “a human being who has been born and is alive” remains—but because there is no longer any reference whatsoever to unborn children as possible victims of homicide, the law now effectively excludes them from the definition of “human person.”

Pro-life advocates have also pointed out that this change in the penal code means that domestic violence resulting in the loss of a pregnancy can no longer be prosecuted as severely as it has been. (It can of course still be prosecuted in the same way as any other assault against someone who is not pregnant.)

Does the R.H.A. remove protections for an infant born alive during an abortion?

Yes. The R.H.A. repeals section 4164 of New York’s public health law. That section had provided that abortions after the 12th week of pregnancy had to be performed in a hospital, and that for abortions after 20 weeks a separate physician had to be on hand to provide medical care for any infant born alive during the procedure—which is a possibility, even if an unlikely one.

The now-repealed section also specified that a child born alive during an abortion procedure immediately enjoyed the protection of New York’s laws, and it required medical records to be kept of the efforts to care for the infant. Without section 4164, the public health law is now silent on the status of an infant born alive during an abortion.

What does calling abortion a “fundamental human right” mean?

The R.H.A. sets out the law’s purpose to secure for every pregnant woman a “fundamental right to choose to carry the pregnancy to term, to give birth to a child, or to have an abortion.” The law also says that the state shall not “discriminate, deny or interfere” with these rights in any other regulations.

This has raised concerns about how this “fundamental right” may be asserted in the future against hospitals, doctors and other medical professionals who object to abortion in conscience. An official with the New York State Catholic Conference said that the law “foresees a time in New York when it’s a crime to be pro-life.” New York State Right to Life, a state political party and lobbying group, argues that this language opens the door to “restrict efforts by pro-lifers…and prohibit any limits on abortion.”

The R.H.A. does not contain any explicit provision requiring anyone to perform or provide abortions, but neither does it explicitly provide any exemption for conscientious objection by health care professionals regarding abortion.

In other words, it is not yet clear what precise legal effect the “fundamental right” language may have. The pro-life movement is concerned about how it might be used in the future to compel participation in making abortion available, but it is unclear how and if courts would interpret and apply a “fundamental right” to abortion beyond the existing text of the law.

Where does this leave us?

Prior to the passage of the R.H.A., if Roe v. Wade had been overruled by the Supreme Court, New York would have reverted to its 1970 abortion law, which already permitted abortion for any reason up to the 24th week of pregnancy and later than that in case of danger to the mother’s life. At the time of its passage, three years prior to Roe, the law was the most permissive in the country. If it were still on the books, the 1970 law would still be more permissive than abortion laws in many European countries, most of which impose limits on abortions starting around 12 weeks.

The bigger tragedy is that it the new law deeply entrenches our divisions over abortion by adopting the most absolutist pro-choice position imaginable.

In the sense that the law the R.H.A. replaced already permitted abortion without many limits, the practical changes due to the new law are likely small. By making it possible for non-physician medical providers to perform abortions and removing the few prior limits on late-term abortion, it is likely that the R.H.A. will slightly increase the number of abortions in the state of New York. However, as pointed out previously, New York already has an extremely high abortion rate, so the existing restrictions probably were not preventing many abortions.

But the law is of huge symbolic importance. It announces that pro-choice activists and their political allies have no interest in or intention of settling for abortion that is “safe, legal and rare.” It has systematically eliminated any legal recognition, no matter how meager, that an unborn child could be worthy of protection or concern, following a playbook that argues that any acknowledgment of “fetal personhood” must be essentially anti-woman.

The tragedy of this law is not only that it makes late-term abortions more available in New York. The bigger tragedy is that it more deeply entrenches our divisions over abortion by adopting the most absolutist pro-choice position imaginable and leaves New Yorkers less able to work together to address or even acknowledge the factors that contribute to our state’s catastrophically high abortion rate.

I live in a city where for every two mothers whose pregnancies fill them with joy, one woman has turned instead to abortion. That is not just because New York protects the right to abortion. It is also because we have failed to present a better option, and the R.H.A. has doubled down on that failure.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
Warren Patton
1 year 5 months ago

On my reading that article doesn't really show what it purports to show. To demonstrate the causal effect they claim you would have to look at a nations abortion rate before and after legalization. Granted, this is difficult as illegal abortion rates are difficult to discern (and Guttmacher tends to inflate them) But its not sufficient to compare abortion rates of (very wealthy) nations with liberal laws to abortion rates of nations with restrictive laws. It may be true that Pakistan has a higher abortion rate then Switzerland but there are many differences between Pakistan and Switzerland and Pakistan besides their laws. It certainly doesn't prove that legalizing abortion in Pakistan would bring their abortion rate down. It's clear enough that the rate of abortions increased after legalization in the U.S.-with a 500% increase between the 1970s to the 1980s. . And many nations with permissive abortion laws have high abortion rates (South Africa, Russia) and there are nations with restrictive laws and very low abortion rates (Ireland, until recently) It is fair to say that restrictive laws are not a guarantor of low abortion rates. But that doesn't mean that permissive laws and total cultural acceptance is our only option. It's important to support the work of sidewalk counselors and crisis pregnancy centers, to educate everyone on the development of life and the humanity of the fetus, and to support single moms. Of course changing the law should not be the only goal of the pro-life movement. But it never has been anyway. The law is only one part of the equation. But that doesn't mean we can just ignore the law.

(Honestly there may be a fair argument here for keeping abortion legal, but requiring every woman who wants one to go through a waiting period and attend pro-life counseling. This is more or less what they do in Germany, and abortion is rare there. But of course this suggestion is likely to send pro-choicers into conniptions)

Besides even if you were 100% right about the laws I would still call out your statement as ridiculous. Because there's an ocean of difference between the statement "The policies pro-lifers are advocating (stricter laws) will not achieve the outcome they want (fewer abortions)" and the statement you seem to be making- that pro-lifers don't actually care about fetal life and may even want to increase abortions, to achieve some shady ulterior motive.

Crystal Watson
1 year 5 months ago

I didn't say pro-lifers want to increase abortions. I said that there's evidence that making abortion illegal and making it harder to get contraception is counterproductive to lowering the abortion rate. I believe the intent of pro-lifers is not to reduce abortion but to restrict women. It just flips their wigs that women have the legal right to determine their own reproductive lives.

Warren Patton
1 year 5 months ago

So you don't believe that pro-lifers genuinely care about fetal life. You think that's all pretend. Is that right?

Crystal Watson
1 year 5 months ago

The movement as directed by groups like Operation Rescue who are essentially terrorists who have bombed and murdered people, the movement which is made up mostly of conservative Republicans who support war, the death penalty, and taking food from the mouths of the elderly and the poor, who support a president who grabs women by their lady parts and locks children in cages? I have a hard time believing they care about fetal life, yes.

Warren Patton
1 year 5 months ago

I'm not here to defend Operation Rescue but its certainly weird to claim that their extreme tactics prove they don't care about fetuses at all. Does a crime of passion prove that the committer lacked passion?

And its true that most pro-lifers have conservative opinions but its not true, as you seem to think, that conservatives are incapable of caring for their fellow man. Apparently forty-something percent of the country is made up of empty husks incapable of genuine caring. Either conservative opinions prove someone is uncaring or they don't. If the conservative opinions of 25-45% are sufficient to prove they don't care about fetuses is it also enough to prove they don't care about their neighbors, or their families, or people in general? I'm sure the people who supported Trump- Christians, small-town folks, Middle Americans, etc.- care deeply about a great many people, including the unborn. I know that's likely to be a controversial statement- that this portion of America is made up of human beings capable of love- but I'll stand by it.

And again, I think you really need to appreciate how ridiculous your position is. You think that the pro-life campaigners who go out and work hard every day really don't care. That when they distribute pamphlets they don't really believe them, that they make arguments that they believe are wrong, show off images of unborn children without really caring about them. All the while presumably smirking to themselves thinking "What a load of nonsense, but at least it;s good for controlling women." And what about the bump the pro-life movement got when ultrasound images came out? Did looking at these pictures make people want to oppress women?

It's probably best to avoid accusing people of arguing in bad faith. It's cheap, it's bad form, and at the end of the day, what matters are the arguments being made, not the person making them. Someone's case is either right or its wrong- and whether they actually believe it is neither here nor there. Which isn't to say pro-lifers don't believe their arguments- they do- but I'm making a broader point about arguments in general. You're effectively making ad-hominem attacks.

Crystal Watson
1 year 5 months ago

Perhaps you can explain to me then how those Trump supporters "love" people but want to end programs like Meals on Wheels that feeds the elderly poor? Perhaps you can explain how they love people but are ok with putting children in cages. Maybe there's a way that they love people but don't want to spend tax dollars to help Puerto Rico. Maybe there's a way they love people but want to ban a a whole religion from immigrating to the US. The Republican party and Trump are the chosen representatives of those people, they reflect what's in those people's hearts, and the policies that flow from that are mean, selfish, and hateful.

Warren Patton
1 year 5 months ago

I'm not going to get into a discussion of these policies. But good people can support bad politics. Do you know any Trump supporters? Do you know how they treat their neighbors? What they do for their friends? What they do for their communities? There's more to life then politics. There's more to being a good person then who you vote for. This is really extraordinary, that you apparently think that forty-something percent of Americans are pure evil.

Warren Patton
1 year 5 months ago

I can't believe we're now having an argument about whether conservatives are capable of feeling love. This is insane to me, literally insane. It's funny but also kind of scary.

Warren Patton
1 year 5 months ago

I have to admit I'm kind of disappointed you didn't try to continue this. I really can't get over it though. Seriously I'll be talking about this for the rest of my life. Any time someone brings up political polarization and stuff like that I'll mention the time I talked to someone on the internet who didn't think conservatives are capable of love.

Maybe to people who post on the internet all the time this sort of craziness is normal but it's seriously a new experience for me.

John Love
1 year 5 months ago

Crystal: I think abortion rates go down because - as the government promotes abortion and often pays for it - eventually, one runs low on babies to abort, no? take a look at where abortion is legal, and then compare this to the nations that have a negative, and in some cases, alarmingly negative, population growth rate. they are pretty much the same nations. Abortion is, in essence, the physical act of national suicide.

Crystal Watson
1 year 5 months ago

You prove my premise - pro-lifers only really care about controlling women's (whore's) behavior.

Bev Ceccanti
1 year 5 months ago

Crystal: Good behavioral choices on the part of women could stop most unwanted pregnancies.

Christopher Minch
1 year 5 months ago

Mr. O'Leary's statement and Fr. Sawyer's and America's strongly pro-life position are one of the bases for polarization. "Extreme" is always in the eyes of the beholder. The normative Catholic position is always Natural Family Planning and anything contraceptively more than that is an abortive stance--a sin, whether less so or extremely so, depends on how nuanced the person wishes to be, if at all

In conservative Catholic circles all of this leads to discussion of intrinsic evil, no "ifs, ands, or buts" no excuses, no rationalizations. No mercy or "cheap grace" to be given. Repent or go to hell. Or if you seek abortion then intrinsic evil becomes the rationale for why we must seek legal sanctions, the tools of the State; fines, loss of licenses, loss of jobs, extensive jailing, and ultimately I suspect many would be OK with a death penalty conviction for both a practitioner of abortion and maybe the mother too. There is no divine mercy to be called upon until there has been repentance and retribution is made. However, Jesus provided devine mercy to the woman caught in adultery before she repented or even when she had not in the story repented, if she ever did. We ignore Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5-7, on how to forgive our enemies or the verses on controlling our anger, or calling people fools or damned--why, because it doesn't suit us to. We ignore the live, suffering Jesus on the cross, who was condemned to death by the State powers-to-be. We ignore what Jesus had to say about political power when he was tempted in the desert. We are on a crusade to destroy our enemies, to win at all costs, to not listen to suffering mothers and families who cannot imagine or afford another mouth to feed or person to shelter or watch as they all slowly dangle and die from the effects of long-term grinding poverty, escapism or violence or a life of crime. We are unwilling or unable to lift a finger to change this. Because, as republicans or theological conservatives, whether in name or in private agreement, people should be able to "pick themselves up by their own bootstraps", as if that were possible. How?, How should we care, nor can we afford this, nor are willing to assure a basic standard of living for all in this Capitalistic society where the rich become richer and the poor become poorer and the middle class become smaller and smaller and they live on a smaller paycheck from decade to decade. Grim, but it is the living from paycheck to paycheck and poverty's truth that priests and bishops and their faithful Catholic Church followers do not want to recognize, at least as it relates to abortion. Christians, followers of Jesus of Nazareth, not total adherents to the Catholic Church will pray and seek better ways of following Jesus even if it is in God's time is not our time.

Catholic thought on contraception must be rethought, revised, revisited in some way as an acceptable means of family planning. Economic necessities for food, shelter, clothing, health care, education and gainful employment must be addressed or your ill-tempered screeching about an "evil" country will fall on deaf ears because you have made yourself the extremist--the problem. I am against abortion but I will vote pro-choice until the contraceptive and economic issues of poverty in the United States are realistically addressed.

Tim O'Leary
1 year 5 months ago

Christopher - Cuomo's law is the essence of extreme, worldwide, so its ironic you bemoan polarization. Of course, we must forgive our enemies for injuries to ourselves. But, the Gospel is clear that we should defend the innocent and not enable their destruction. We also cannot abandon them to some future political perfection. You could have taken the same stance to not oppose the abolition of slavery. You say you are against abortion, presumably because you know it is killing a human being. Yet, every time you vote pro-choice, you are enabling further killing. Contraception is widely available and this generation is richer than those of the past. So, please stop holding the unborn hostage to some richer welfare state. Or at least, stop killing your hostages.

Christopher Minch
1 year 5 months ago

Mr. O'Leary, is there any possibility that it is the Church's stance on contraception and abortion that has led to the equal and opposite stance that the abortionists take on these issues? The two sides have gone politically polarized because that is the nature of our politics and is the nature of the current Catholic moral stances--no holds barred. We are relevant and we are never morally wrong. There can be no nuances or circumstances that you will not fault or condemn or judge someone to be completely at fault on this issue. I reject apples and oranges comparison of abortion and slavery issues. It is just another way of ratcheting up your rhetoric and an attempt to again do another one-up on others on a different moral issue. I am speaking from the point of view of those who are in dire straights, in the here and now and alone with their worries and concerns who do not feel or know they have the support of bringing another being into this world, period. If you are not willing to even know or feeling, that is with compassion, acknowledge the plight of all the individuals involved, which may be an impossibility, and are willing to assure that this unborn will be assured good, not perfect overall care at least through high school by good public policies supported by yours and my tax dollars then your moral stance is deficient and could be seen by circumstances to be wrong. If you are willing to fine, jail or execute them then you must be willing to go the distance too with public dollars to support all the births that would come from total anti-abortion laws. It has to both at the same time.

Tim O'Leary
1 year 5 months ago

Christopher - the Church has been against contraception and abortion since its founding (see the Didache in 2nd century and any Church mention on this since). Abortion was the crime of witches and criminals for centuries and the American Medical Association came out adamantly against it in the 19th century in light of the new fetal science. The Nazi's and Communists were early abortion adopters (the former for Jews and "undesirables" and the latter for everyone) and the feminists began the modern regimes in the West in the 1970s. So, it is against all history to think that the Church's stance over 2 millennia only recently triggered a polarization. The extremism is all on the killers side and they will be pushing cloning soon enough. You are right that slavery is an imperfect analogy since the intention of slavery was not to kill them but use them for labor. Still, the legal history in the US does mirror the abortion history in reverse - progressive loss of rights driven by a refusal to see the humanity in a vulnerable segment of the population. I fully support a promise by the government or private charities to pay for the welfare of any unborn child who manages to escape the killing clutches of a Democrat. But, by setting the argument in these terms, it is you who are using their lives as a ransom for your new welfare politics.

Christopher Minch
1 year 5 months ago

Mr. More, you state, "you (meaning I) will support legislation (such as New York’s) that permits the termination of the life of a baby who has actually been born".

1) As stated in the article above there I saw nothing that indicates that they NY are terminating a life already born. That would be indeed be murder unless we are talking about euthanasia which is another issue altogether.
2) There is nothing perfect about life or "my conception" of what would be adequate to bring up a child in today's US of A. All I am saying it should be adequate for that child and family to make it through at least high school otherwise we just are idealistic moralists bent on forcing others to do what we want without regard to the very life they have to live. If you are not willing to force your politicians to also come up with the policies and tax dollars to live (food, shelter, clothing, education and healthcare for child and family) then I will continue to remain pro-choice.

Eugene Devany
1 year 5 months ago

As an attorney, Catholic, and resident of New York I would like to suggest a new approach to the problem. I believe that men have the same right to procreate as women. This would, of course, enable a man to refuse consent to the abortion of his unborn child even if it tended to view the fetus as joint property rather than fully human.

I mentioned the idea to a discussion group of a dozen Catholic men, and they were appalled that I might consider a policy that did not treat the fetus as human and allowed men, in the alternative, to consent to abortion. I argued that love is more important than life and that it is love that makes the clump of cells human.

Consider a norm where an abortionist must obtain consent from both parents to proceed with an abortion at any stage of fetal development. An abortionist that proceeds without consent must preserve and publish a DNA sample. A man who matches the genetic sample would be able to bring a cause of action against the abortionist for loss of a fetus – a well-recognized cause of action.

There is no need to bring an action against the woman or to criminalize the abortion procedure. Men need to get involved when (or before) they are most vulnerable – (i.e. lying naked with an attractive and willing woman, married or not). The couple need to know if either will want an abortion in the event of pregnancy. Both need to know if support will be made available not just for nine months but for the decades thereafter. A system that coerces that important conversation needs to be encouraged.

Conservative judges could recognize a man’s right to refuse consent and a common law right to damages. Gov. Cuomo, like his father before him, should not have the last word on the subject.

Rhett Segall
1 year 5 months ago

It's an injustice in the abortion law that the father of the unborn child has no legal stand. My nephew's wife was pregnant and chose to terminate the pregnancy against her husbands will. It devastated him. But there was nothing he could do. Yet if my niece in law had birthed the child the law would have mandated that my nephew provide financial support for the baby. On the simple basis of fairness does this make sense?

John Mack
1 year 5 months ago

A balanced article, except for any mention of five factors. 1. ... Birth control, and access to birth control. The Catholic church has staked out an extremist position on birth control and this makes it, in the eyes of many, not credible when it comes to the issue of when when human life starts in the fetus. Many secularists who oppose or are uneasy with overly permissive late term abortions believe that the fetus turns from biological life to human life with the appearance of brain waves, not heart beats or any other factor. ... 2. Access to health care, and free birth control. Mayor diBiasio has announced that health care will be made available to all city residents, which means it would be free or near free for poor people. This most likely would result in greater use of effective birth control. It might also put a dent in abortions once a woman is pregnant. This is all speculation. This NYC universal health care is quite a challenge to achieve so it may never really happen. ... 3. The dominance of toxic men, especially young men, in the Pro-Life movement (which is not really pro-life, given its narrow focus) makes Pro-Life look like, to many, a clever way for men to assert their dominance over women and family. ... 4.The open support of Pro-Life for Trump, and the fanaticism of certain priests (Trump was appointed by God) makes it impossible for many to listen to Pro-Life people.. ... 5. The callousness of so many Pro-Life supporters to the plight of poor children, the support of many pro-Lifers for capital punishment and any military action, no matter how unjust or destructive it may be, the hostility of many Pro-Lifers towards Black LIves Matter (Too) does not make it easy for non Pro-Lifer people to listen to that movement or to Catholic bishops.

Tim O'Leary
1 year 5 months ago

Mack - in reverse order
5) it is laughable and tragic that you think you support "Black Lives Matter" when “The most dangerous place for an African American is in the womb.”
4) Trump is an inveterate womanizer and liar. How amazing that those that oppose him think they are more moral when they support killing their most innocent human neighbors. No one who supports abortion is a lesser sinner Than Trump.
3) The pro-life movement is mainly led by women and it is one of the most manly things for young men to support those women in their protest against mass slaughter in the name of toxic feminism. A man who wants his pregnant girlfriend or wife to have an abortion is an example of the most toxic humanity possible - killing his own child.
2) Again, so many abortionists claim to be interested in healthcare for all, but NOT for the unborn. Hypocritical.
1) The Catholic Church has not staked out any new position on contraception. It has just maintained its position for 2 thousand years. Despite this, due to to the general loss of faith, contraception is cheap and widely available. But, this doesn't stop the use of abortion as contraception of last resort, which is higher in those populations who use contraception the most. A contraceptive mentality is the first step in the justification of abortion.

Terry Kane
1 year 5 months ago

Thank you, Tim. When I saw toxic masculinity and Black Lives Matter (Too), I thought why bother responding to this nonsense. However, you decided it was worth the effort. You did a great job, but let's see if your intelligent response can change any minds (if use of that word isn't hoping for too much LOL)

rose-ellen caminer
1 year 5 months ago

Effective birth control has always been available.To any one , rich or poor, educated or not.No one is having abortions because they did not have access to birth control .[ though they may tell this to feminist sociologists and medical practitioners knowing this is what they are expected to say]. People get abortions because they can. The legality of it, and societal pressure; the feminist pro choice narrative around it; that it is reproductive health and a human right and misogynist to oppose it, all contribute to putting pressure on women when they are pregnant ;is my life going to benefit from having a child, do I owe it to myself and maybe even other people in my life to abort?All such factors now must be considered many women believe if they are to be self actualizing people in the world.As empowered as men naturally are. This ,happening to them,this pregnancy is the ultimate test of their empowerment as women, they have been brainwashed to believe. Every unplanned pregnancy must be evaluated as a cost benefit analysis, like buying a house or renting. This is expected of empowered women. You can't just go with the flow of the situation; I'm pregnant; that's the way of life, of my life and the future is not predictable,no one know how ones life will go , not the joys and not the sorrows, is a passive,yet still true, but un- feminist attitude that must be ditched, and that results in many women choosing to get abortions.The pressure of the fact of its being legal, and a mark of feminist empowerment; I'd be a fool to have a baby at this stage in my life when all my ducks for success are not in order. It's pressure, by the cultural narrative of self empowerment at all costs, by pressure from others, that {IMO] that has resulted in abortion being so prevalent. It has nothing to do with availability of birth control.And certainly not the church's stance against birth control. If women assent to the church's teachings on birth control and then go have abortions, they are victims of manipulation.Most likely they have been pressured by the father of the child or their parents....And Black Lives Matter.

Will Nier
1 year 5 months ago

He was smart changing the code:the definition of homicide included causing the death of a person (defined as “a human being who has been born and is alive”) or of an unborn child if the woman has been pregnant for more than 24 weeks.

I guess we still get back to the fundamental question: when is this mass of tissue defined as a viable human baby( being)". We have used many words to describe fetal development from cellular tissue to embryo to fetus. Now we redefine once again by saying a viable birth is necessary; once the child is born. Ah but is it viable!!! Now that is the questions. Dependent maybe but not viable without the aid of others to care for it and give nourishment. So I guess we need ask the question when does the nonviable entity become a person and thus protected under the Constitution of the USA. Until we do it is not.

Tim Donovan
1 year 5 months ago

The Reproductive Health Act is an extreme law in so many ways. I'd like to only make three points, however. First, I agree with those pro-life advocates who fear that, since abortion is described as a "fundamental right" that it's very likely that, since the law doesn't have a "conscience clause" exempting physicians, nurses and other health care employees from performing or participating in abortions, that such health care may be compelled to kill the unborn by abortion, since it seems that abortion as a "fundamental right" would trump any meaningful restrictions. Also, although relatively few abortions are performed on viable unborn babies, this law, by codifying in state law Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton, would permit legal abortions past viability for any reason. Keep in mind that in Doe v. Bolton the Supreme Court defined health in the following manner: " all factors--physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman's age--relevant to the well-being of the patient. " Therefore, I believe such a broad definition could include any legal abortion past the time when the unborn infant (or fetus, which is latin fir "young one') is viable. How appalling. Also, the assertion that "only" slightly more than 1% of abortions are performed after 21weeks gestation still means that, since there are almost 1,000,000 abortions performed annually in our nation, that about 10,000 innocent unborn human beings are killed by horrendous late term abortion procedures. That's far more human beings than were killed in the terrorist attacks on September 11, to provide some perspective on tye tragedy of these deliberate killings. Finally, with respect, I disagree with Father Sawyer that there is no way to know approximately how many partial birth abortions are performed each year. According to the Wikipedia website, Ron Fitzsimmons, the Executive Director of the National Coalition of Abortion Providers until 2004 admitted that he "lied through his teeth" when he testified before Congress in 1995 about partial birth abortions. He admitted that the procedure was much more common than had been previously admitted, and that "the vast majority of these abortions are performed in the 20+week range on healthy fetuses and healthy mothers."
In an investigative report by Ruth Padawer in The Record of Bergen County, New Jersey, (September 15, 1996) it was found that at Metropolitan Medical abortion clinic, that doctors acknowledged that they performed over 1,500 partial birth abortions each year. Please keep in mind that this was a single abortion center in one of 50 states. Further, the report quoted doctors at tye clinic who stated that "only a 'miniscule amount' (of partial birth abortions) are for medical reasons.
The Washington Post (September 17, 1996), whose editorial policy is strongly "pro-abortion rights," conducted an investigative report by David Brown, M. D. , and Barbara Vobjeda. They interviewed several abortionists and concluded: "It is possible--even likely-- that the majority of these (partial birth ) abortions are performed on healthy fetuses...in most cases where the procedure is used, the physical health of the women whose pregnancy is beg terminated is not in jeopardy..."
Finally, Dr. Martin Haskell of Ohio has performed over 1,000 partial birth abortions. In a recorded interview with the American Medical Association he asserted that "most of my abortions are elective in that 20-24 week range. In my particular case...80% are purely elective." One final point. While it's certainly true that most abortions are performed in the first trimester, with due respect I strongly disagree with Father Sawyer that this would provide pro-life and "pro-choice" advocates tye likelihood of finding common cause in desiring to enact laws to restrict abortion, such as parental consent for minor teenage girls (with judicial bypass as an option) and banning tax-funded abortions under most circumstances. Even though reputable polls over the years have confirmed that the great majority of Americans (including many "abortion rights" advocates ) favor such laws, that "pro-choice" groups such as Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice America, and the ACLU have always vehemently opposed such modest restrictions.

Jane Lawson
1 year 5 months ago

And throughout all the anguish and spilt ink on both sides sides, there is a profound and enveloping silence about the men who look to their own pleasure and then walk away from the women who are left behind. Let’s have some of the sound and fury directed at men reminding them that they have an absolute responsibility not to allow the possibility of a pregnancy, either by continence or contraception, unless they will be around for the subsequent 21 years to support and nurture the resulting child.

Eugene Devany
1 year 5 months ago

Why dismember the fetus in the womb when early delivery can let it die quickly with little risk to the mother? Apparently, the law thinks birth rather than love changes "it" to a human - entitled to legal protections against murder. The Planned Parenthood philosophy treats all women as farm animals with no self-respect. At least fathers should have a right to refuse consent to the destruction of their unborn child.

lurline jennings
1 year 5 months ago

"Crystal Watson5 hours 43 min ago
- Abortion in the US is a very safe procedure and can be done by a PA or nurse practitioner in a clinic."
Requiring a doctor and a hospital is a pro-life strategy to make an abortion more difficult to arrange and more expensive." Crystal Watson: Have you ever seen an abortion at any stage? It is one of the most bloody procedures done. It is not an easy surgery done by just any medical person. If you have safety in mind, at least for the mother, one needs an OB/GYN, no extra protection for the child as the purpose is its death. This is NOT a procedure for a PA or Nurse to do. Rupture of the Uterus and perforation is not uncommon, and you would want a non physician to do the procedure? If so, you will have the prospect of the death of both human beings. Both are viable unless the in Utero child has died because of an unsuspected developmental defect. Even so, the body will expel it in a natural way, and nothing needs to be done unless an infection is present or a real possibility. Murder isn't pretty, and that is what abortion is. Having an ill-trained PA or Nurse do the procedure is asking for real trouble. Perhaps seeing videos of abortions done on early and late procedures will lead you to a different opinion. As an inexpensive way to get around the procedure, you can get it done fast in a garage. Why bother caring who does it?

Crystal Watson
1 year 5 months ago

Yeah, who cares what the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine say about the safety of abortion? Facts don't matter if you're pro-life, I guess.

Henry George
1 year 5 months ago

If I understand this article and the new law, it means that if a baby is born during an
abortion, it can just be left to die...is this correct ? If it is, then I really do not grasp why any Catholic Politician who voted for the law has not been excommunicated.

Sha'Pearl Jones
1 year 5 months ago

Pro-choice advocates respond that the late-term abortions up to the point of birth that pro-lifers highlight are rare and almost always involve cases of extreme medical complexity—and they are right."

A 2013 study from the pro abortion Guttmacher Institute found that women seeking both first-trimester and late-term abortions provided the same reasons for delaying their abortions which included: not knowing about the pregnancy, trouble deciding about the abortion, and disagreeing about the abortion "with the man involved." For women in the late-term abortion group, the reason most often cited for delaying the procedure was "raising money for the procedure and related costs."

Patricia Apy
1 year 5 months ago

In evaluating New York’s law and the number of abortions in the state, the article did not recognize that a significant number of women travel to New York to obtain these procedures, and have done so since the 70’s, when abortion services were not offered or were criminalized. Many women wish the termination of a crisis pregnancy to be done privately, something they cannot accomplish at home. As states craft anti-abortion legislation like Iowa ( strategically crafted to challenge Roe) , abortion , like other medical care, will be performed in urban centers of less restrictive states.

Frances VanBrocklin
1 year 5 months ago

Good morning,
I propose and now present the “better option” which is out there but rarely spoken of. It is the pregnancy resource center. They exist in every state and in many cities within those states.
I politely ask the Church and all citizens of this great country of ours to educate your self on this valuable resource and then start talking about it, volunteering at one, or opening one of your own. Women always have a better choice and another option, they simply have to know where to find the “better.”
Pregnancy resource centers offer a variety of services including free pregnancy testing, sonograms and STD testing. They offer emotional and material support, including clothing, diapers and more. They offer compassionate guidance, partnership and friendship throughout the pregnancy and beyond! They help women find housing and connect them with financial resources. They offer parenting programs and career programs and referrals to all manners of organization that will give them a HAND UP rather than a short term temporary hand out.
I invite you to Google “pregnancy resource center near me” or “pregnancy care center,” and gather all of the information that is available for those facing an unintended, unplanned, or unexpected pregnancy.
Then go out and shout it from the mountaintops!

Thank you.

Crystal Watson
1 year 5 months ago

Also known of as crisis pregnancy centers, they offer no medical care, but instead lie to women about their options and outcomes.

Frances VanBrocklin
1 year 5 months ago

Dear Crystal,
The truth is some Pregnancy resource centers are medically licensed while others are not and do not provide medical services. They’d be sued if they did.
We only speak the truth, and I welcome you to the doorsteps of Birtrhight of Montgomery
County, should you ever find yourself in the state of Maryland.
The door is open and you are welcome.

Ellen B
1 year 5 months ago

Another tragedy? That Cardinal Dolan showed up on television and claimed that women "rarely" die in childbirth, ignoring the fact that maternal death rates have risen in the US & are far higher than any other industrialized country. And part of that has been the successful assault on Planned Parenthood & other providers of health care to women.

Shari Lawler
1 year 5 months ago

Thank you Mr. Sawyer for this thoughtful article. I have shared it with people I care about on both sides of the debate, and I think it gives everyone much to think about. I wish everyone could be as respectful and solution-focused as you are. Bless you, and the ones who taught you how to create listening by the way you speak to others.

Mary Gail Frawley-O'Dea
1 year 5 months ago

Posted on Facebook -- Lindsey Erin
January 27 at 9:29 PM
For all of you who think that New York is allowing these terminations after 24 weeks for people who don't want their babies, you're wrong. You are dead wrong. And your posts depicting perfect full-term babies that are supposedly in danger are nothing short of torturous.
This is the last picture I took of my son. I was 17 weeks pregnant when I found out that he had a condition that would make him incompatible with life. It broke me in ways you will never understand until you experience it yourself. I hope you never do.

I wasn't 24 weeks yet, but I already loved this baby. I named him. I had dreams of holding him, of kissing his little fingers and toes. Dreams of what his giggles would sound like. I wanted him, so very badly. How much worse must it be for women who have made it to 24 weeks or more?

I had to make a choice. As you can see, he was badly swollen. What you can't see is that his organs were surrounded by fluid. He was going to drown in the substance that was supposed to keep him safe. I wanted to try to carry to full term so that I could donate his organs to a baby that had a chance. Unfortunately, doing so would have nearly guaranteed that I would have developed eclampsia, had fatal seizures and left my other beautiful sons without a mother. There was only a 20% chance that I would even have made it to full term, because of the severity, and if he had passed before that, his organs would not have been eligible for donation. I made the heartbreaking choice to terminate via induction of labor. My doctors moved quickly, but showed more compassion towards me and my son than many of the people who claim to be pro-life. I was given a chance to hold him and say good-bye.

My story is not uncommon. The stories of the women put in this position through no fault of their own are heart-wrenching. The new law does not allow for healthy full term babies to be aborted. It does not allow for murder, yes a life is ended but it is an act of mercy. The law protects the women who are forced to make the hardest decision of their lives and the doctors who care for them.

These babies are wanted. These babies are loved. These mothers aren't murderers. These mothers are devastated. You are politicizing their pain and demonizing them.

islam islam
1 year 5 months ago

for your nice post .
I hope I will see this type
of post again in your blog.


The latest from america

People visit Hagia Sophia in Istanbul June 30, 2020. (CNS photo/Murad Sezer, Reuters)
Pope Francis' brief words at the Sunday Angelus are the Vatican's first public response to the Turkish president's move to turn Hagia Sophia back into a mosque.
Gerard O’ConnellJuly 12, 2020
Catholic Charities staff and volunteers in the Archdiocese of Washington distribute 500 grocery boxes and 500 family meals in the parking lot of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception July 10, 2020, during the coronavirus pandemic. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)
U.S. bishops: “The Paycheck Protection Program was designed to protect the jobs of Americans from all walks of life, regardless of whether they work for for-profit or non-profit employers, faith-based or secular.”
Kevin ClarkeJuly 10, 2020
From Meatless Mondays to Black Lives Matter, old Christian truths take hold in a world that seems to have left religion behind.
André M. PeñalverJuly 10, 2020
The Unesco World Heritage site in Istanbul, founded as a Christian church in the 6th century, transformed into a mosque in the 15th century and then into a museum in 1934, will reopen as a mosque on July 24 with Friday prayers.
Gerard O’ConnellJuly 10, 2020