By the Rev. Thomas F. Maloney
In his January State of the State message, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo outlined his broad policy goals for women’s issues: ending sexual harassment; achieving pay equity; stopping human trafficking; eliminating housing discrimination for victims of domestic violence. All of those certainly sound praiseworthy. Who among us wouldn’t wish to end discrimination against women and promote justice and equality for all?
But shouldn’t New Yorkers be able to see the details of the governor’s plan before deciding if they support it or not? To date, the governor has not put forward any legislative package, and he has publicly refused to “unbundle” the issues to allow separate votes on each one.
The only detail the governor did offer in his women’s agenda was his passionate support for the Reproductive Health Act (Senate bill 438).
This legislative proposal would expand late-term abortions in New York, allow non-physicians to perform abortions and could threaten the liberties of religious organizations. There are millions of ordinary citizens, clergy members and religious leaders in the state of New York who would not agree with these objectives.
A recent poll conducted by McLaughlin Associates for the Chiaroscuro Foundation found that New York voters, even those who identify themselves as “pro-choice,” overwhelmingly believe there is sufficient access to abortion in the state (79 percent). Only 17 percent approve of unlimited abortion on demand through the ninth month of pregnancy, which would be permissible under the Reproductive Health Act. Moreover, 75 percent oppose allowing non-doctors to perform abortions, as envisioned by the bill.
The numbers in New York State are staggering: Statewide, there are more than 111,000 abortions every year; that’s one in every three pregnancies ending in abortion. Tragically, Erie County records the second highest number of abortions of all counties outside New York City.
As the pastor of St. Amelia Church, I urge Catholics and all people of good will to let their state lawmakers know that we affirm the sacredness of all human life, from the first moment of conception until natural death. We do not believe that abortion expansion is good for women or children.
We implore the governor and our elected officials to work to help build a culture of life and offer women faced with unplanned pregnancies some genuine life-affirming choices, rather than simply more abortion.
The Rev. Monsignor Thomas F. Maloney is pastor of St. Amelia Church in Tonawanda.