The New York State budget bill, introduced by Governor Andrew Cuomo on Jan. 16, includes an abortion expansion proposal that would lift virtually all limitations on abortion. Law requires a budget to be passed by April 1.
“As the budget deadline approaches, I think it’s really critical for people to contact their state senators, especially the Republican senators, to hold them to their party’s position that they will not accept this item in the budget,” said Edward Mechmann, director of public policy for the archdiocese, in an interview with CNY last week.
“More than anything else,” added Mechmann, that’s what people need to do. “The issue isn’t going to go away—we have to still make sure that we educate people in general, both in the Assembly and the Senate—but right now the decision point is going to be in the Senate.”
The message, Mechmann said, is simply that the abortion expansion proposal should be removed from the state budget.
“The Governor’s bill would align New York with the most liberal abortion laws in the world,” states a bulletin insert from the Public Policy Office of the Archdiocese sent to parishes across the archdiocese in February, and to parish pro-life coordinators.
The correspondence outlines four major consequences of the proposed abortion legislation:
• The bill would remove our current law’s limit and allow abortions after 24 weeks. Studies show that (an unborn child) experiences pain at 20 weeks.
• 5 to 10 percent of babies are born alive after a late-term abortion procedure, and those infants are currently protected. This bill would eliminate the law that requires that a baby born alive after an abortion be given adequate health care.
• This bill would permit non-doctors to do abortions—the state government could grant a license to perform abortions to anyone.
• The bill would eliminate all criminal penalties for abortions—so even if an abortion was against a mother’s will (involuntary or coerced) or if an unborn child is deliberately targeted for an act of violence, it could not be prosecuted.
Mechmann called the bill’s allowing those who are not doctors to perform abortions “startling and frightening.” The removal of protections for babies born alive during late-term abortions is “just so shocking to the conscience—I find it hard to believe that any humane person could support such a thing,” he added.
“It just goes totally against the trend that we see across the country of greater awareness of the humanity of an unborn child.”
“It dehumanizes even further people who, across the country, other people have seen more and more as in their full humanity as our brothers and sisters.”
The “legacy” of 48 years of legalized abortion in New York—abortion became legal in New York state in 1970—Mechmann said, is “a coarseness and disregard toward the value of unborn human life.”
“The tragedy of a culture of death that comes about from a legalization of abortion is that it infects the mindset of individuals and, therefore, the whole culture, and it immunizes us from really considering what it is that we’re doing, and what we’re allowing to happen.”
The budget deadline of April 1 falls on Easter this year. “It’s just one of these tragic ironies that a bill like this would be finalized, perhaps, during the Easter Triduum, the time of the death and resurrection of Christ…Children who are being killed in the womb, that’s the modern Passion.”
In addition to the bulletin inserts and other information distributed to parishes through various mailings and email, and its Facebook page, the Public Policy Office has held regional meetings in key senate districts, and supported the New York State Catholic Conference and the state’s bishops in their advocacy with senators and the governor.
“The most important action is being done by regular parishioners, especially in these key senate districts, by contacting their legislators and telling them what they think,” Mechmann said. “And that’s what we’ve been trying to encourage.”
The correspondence from the Public Policy Office also states that “The Action Center of the New York State Catholic Conference has made it very easy for us to oppose this proposal through their website.”
The following steps, it outlines below, will allow a person to electronically sign their name to a pre-written letter that will route to their senator: Go to www.nyscatholic.org. Search for Abortion Expansion. Follow the small red link on the top left side “Take action now.”