Statement of the N.Y. Bishops on pending abortion legislation

July 10, 2008

New York State Catholic Conference
465 State Street · Albany, NY  12203-1004
Phone (518) 434-6195 · Fax (518) 434-9796

Statement of the New York State Bishops On Pending Abortion Legislation
Monday, March 10, 2008

This year marks the 35th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court decision, Roe v Wade, which legalized abortion in all 50 states. We live with its tragic legacy –the loss of millions of innocent human lives and a trail of broken hearts and wounded souls.

Yet across the country, there is cause for hope. Public opinion is moving solidly in the pro-life direction. Ultrasound technology has opened a window to the womb, revealing the humanity of the unborn child. The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld a ban on the gruesome procedure known as “partial-birth abortion,” and most state legislatures have restricted abortion’s practice and reduced its incidence. Even in our State of New York, often cited as the “abortion capital” of the United States, we have made pro-life progress, with solid investments in prenatal care and abortion alternatives, and conscience protection for those opposed to the procedure.

In the midst of this hopefulness, New York Governor Eliot Spitzer is attempting to move our state in a decidedly opposite direction. He has put forth a radical proposal called the “Reproductive Health and Privacy Protection” (RHAPP) Act, a bill that would elevate abortion to a “fundamental right” in our state, just like the right to free speech and the right to vote.

This bill would make abortions even easier to obtain, and would ensure that late-term abortions of fully-formed infants are available in the Empire State, no matter what prohibitions the U.S. Supreme Court might one day allow. It would endanger women by allowing non-physicians to carry out abortions and imperil children by thwarting any efforts to involve parents in the abortion decisions of their children.

No less alarming, this extremist proposal could be used to force all health care institutions, even Catholic hospitals, to provide abortions or risk the loss of their operating certificate. It could be used to compel every insurance company to pay for abortion and every health care provider to perform abortion.

The extremism of this proposal is couched in euphemisms like “choice” and “reproductive health care for women.” The words have become unmoored from their meaning; they cannot mask the fact that the bill attempts to legislate approval for a procedure that is always gravely wrong. A legal system that violates the basic right to life of one human being on the grounds of the “choice” of another is fundamentally flawed.

We do not relish a public fight with the Governor or the state legislature on this issue. However, we would be failing in our responsibility as bishops if we did not oppose it strongly. This proposal threatens the life-affirming work we do day in and day out in our hospitals and charitable agencies, in our schools, in our maternity centers and health care clinics, in our adoption and foster care programs. Compliance with such a law would violate every principle that we hold sacred.

So oppose it we will — from our pulpits, in the media, through our advocacy network, in the legislature, and in collaboration with others who value and defend life.

We call on all New Yorkers to contact their legislators and the Governor to make their voices heard. Offer support for those legislators who stand with us, and let those who stand with the abortion industry know that they have chosen them over you. Stand up to defend the inviolable sanctity of human life, from the first moment of creation until natural death. Pray for an end to abortion and the conditions that force women into this terrible dilemma. Let us all assist those who are pregnant, frightened and in need, to help them choose life.

Edward Cardinal Egan
Archbishop of New York

Most Rev. Howard J. Hubbard
Bishop of Albany

Most Rev. Nicholas DiMarzio
Bishop of Brooklyn

Most Rev. Edward U. Kmiec
Bishop of Buffalo

Most Rev. Robert J. Cunningham
Bishop of Ogdensburg

Most Rev. Matthew H. Clark
Bishop of Rochester

Most Rev. William F. Murphy
Bishop of Rockville Centre

Most Rev. James M. Moynihan
Bishop of Syracuse