ALBANY, N.Y. — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is flexing his political muscle to give abortion advocates their biggest state victory in 40 years since Roe v. Wade: a sweeping expansion of abortion law that, if enforced, could put Catholic hospitals and many state-funded ministries out of business.
Cuomo’s approval ratings have topped 70% for six straight months, and, with just two years in office, he has already pushed through controversial same-sex “marriage” legislation and the most restrictive gun-control law in the nation.
Cuomo, who is Catholic, now is setting his sights on succeeding where governors for the past six years have failed: passing the proposed Reproductive Health Care Act.
But Cuomo has included the act as part of his 10-point “women’s equality” agenda, which includes a raise in the minimum wage, tougher anti-housing discrimination laws and measures against domestic violence and sex-trafficking.
Catholic bishops in New York’s Catholic Conference and pro-life groups are raising the alarm that Cuomo’s proposals are both “radical” and “dangerous” to unborn children, women and religious freedom.
“Gov. Cuomo’s bill elevates abortion to a fundamental right and says New York state can’t discriminate on abortion in benefits or services or anything else it provides,” said Kathleen Gallagher, the conference’s director of pro-life activities.
Cuomo’s legislation, she said, would make illegal abortion restrictions, such as parental-notification laws, informed-consent laws, restrictions on taxpayer funding of abortion and abortion bans of any kind.
The law will allow licensed medical professionals other than a physician to perform first-trimester abortions.
The Democratic governor announced in his Jan. 9 State of the State address that he would expand legal abortion as part of a comprehensive women’s-equality bill, declaring three times, “It’s her body, her choice” to thunderous applause.
“Gov. Cuomo vociferously declared that women’s equality, safety and reproductive rights will be a priority for New York state in 2013,” Andrea Miller, president of NARAL Pro-Choice New York, confirmed in a press release. Miller said the last election results showed New Yorkers recognized that without a right to abortion a woman “cannot participate fully in society.”
Late-Abortion Green Light
Cuomo’s bill removes criminal penalties for third-trimester abortions after 24 weeks by adding a broad health exception. Current state law allows such late-term abortions if there is a danger to the mother’s life.
Chris Slattery, director of the Expectant Mother Care (EMC) pregnancy centers in New York City, said the new law will make New York City the late-term abortion capital of the world.
“It’s going to open up the third-trimester market,” Slattery said. “It’s going to be huge, and people all over the world, not just out of state, are going to be coming to New York to have and perform these abortions.”
Late-term abortions generally cost more than $2,000.
“It’s the fight of the pro-life movement’s life in New York,” Slattery said. “This is worse than Roe v. Wade itself, and everyone needs to focus on defeating this bill.”