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Abortion Expansion Act (Reproductive Health Act)

Memorandum of Opposition

Re: S.240 Krueger, Stewart-Cousins / A.21 Glick, Heastie
In relation to abortion expansion

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This legislation was recently introduced and is being fast-tracked for legislative votes. Despite how it is framed by proponents, this bill is not a simple update of New York’s laws. It is an extreme expansion of current state abortion policy. The New York State Catholic Conference opposes this bill, and urges you to vote in the negative. More


Statement on Abortion Expansion Act

Following is a statement from the New York State Catholic Conference, which represents the Bishops of New York State in public policy matters:

The failure of a last-ditch hostile amendment to try to effect passage of the Abortion Expansion Act is a remarkable victory for unborn children, as well as vulnerable women and girls who so often face unrelenting societal and family pressure to abort. The result is, quite literally, the answer to prayer. More accurately, it is the answer to millions of prayers by men, women and children of every faith from every section of the state who believe in the inalienable right to life of the baby in the womb.

We are grateful to Senate Co-Leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) for his steadfast opposition to this bill, and to the members of his Republican conference who were united with him in that position, as well as to the two pro-life Democrats who denied the abortion proponents a majority in the Senate. We are grateful, too, for those courageous and principled Republicans and Democrats in the Assembly who voted against abortion expansion despite it being a losing cause in that chamber. This victory is shared with them as well, and they should know that pro-life New Yorkers will remember their vote. More


Abortion lobby still pushing the “Reproductive Health Act”

by Kathleen M. Gallagher

Now that the state budget has been adopted, the New York State Legislature turns its attention to other policy matters, and their 2012 Session is not scheduled to end until June 21, a full two months away. Abortion advocacy groups are turning up the heat to move the so-called “Reproductive Health Act,” an extreme and unnecessary piece of legislation.

NARAL-NY led a lobby day in Albany earlier this week.  And “Clergy for Choice,” a branch of Family Planning Advocates, was also in Albany. (How odd that when religious voices advocate against abortion we are accused of violating the separation of church and state, but when religious voices advocate in favor of abortion, there appear to be no constitutional problems…)

The Senate sponsor of the RHA, Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D- Westchester), is planning to formally “petition” the Senate to move her bill (S.2844/A.6112) out of the Senate Rules Committee.  This is a very complicated process under the Senate Rules, one which she cannot begin until April 26, and one that requires her to get 38 Senators’ signatures on the petition in order for it to be successful. Please help ensure that your Senator does not sign this petition.  Continue to voice your opposition to the RHA.  You can do so here.


Gestational Surrogacy

Re: A.1071-A Paulin
In relation to Gestational Surrogacy Agreements

Memorandum of Opposition

The above-referenced bill would undo New York’s longstanding prohibition of compensated surrogate parenting contracts. It would thereby encourage the buying and selling of children and the outsourcing of motherhood. The New York State Catholic Conference opposes this bill.

A.1071-A would legalize commercial “gestational surrogacy,” which involves a monetary contractual arrangement whereby a woman who is genetically unrelated to the child, will bear that child for someone else, with the intent of relinquishing the child at birth. Human embryos are created in a laboratory through in vitro fertilization (IVF), using egg and sperm that may or may not be from the intended parents, then transferred to the uterus of the surrogate mother (or “gestational carrier,” as this bill calls her).

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State Aid to Planned Parenthood

Memorandum of Opposition

Re: S.470 Rivera / A.1080 Glick
In relation to additional state aid for Planned Parenthood clinics

This bill seeks to make Planned Parenthood clinics in New York State eligible to receive funding from the Hospital Bad Debt and Charity Care Pool, which was established in 1983 to underwrite a portion of hospital losses associated with uncompensated care to the indigent and uninsured. The New York State Catholic Conference opposes this legislation and urges that it be defeated.

Tens of millions of taxpayer dollars are appropriated each year in our state budget for “family planning services,” the vast majority of which will be appropriated to Planned Parenthood clinics. Additional state taxpayer funds flow to these clinics for “adolescent pregnancy prevention programs,” “health and sexuality-related programs,” sexually transmitted disease testing, and more. In addition to these line items, Planned Parenthood clinics enjoy expanded Medicaid eligibility for their clients, and newly-adopted Department of Financial Services’ regulations mandate cost-free insurance coverage for both contraceptives and abortions. We respectfully suggest that additional moneys to this provider are not warranted. More


In Relation to Reproductive Health Care Decisions

Memorandum of Opposition

Re:  A.584 Jaffee / S.660 Metzger
In relation to reproductive health care decisions

The above-referenced legislation aims to outlaw employment discrimination based on an employee or dependent’s reproductive health decision making.  For the reasons outlined below, the New York State Catholic Conference opposes this bill.

First, we would note that the term “reproductive health decision making” is not defined within the legislation. It is simply referred to as “…including but not limited to, the decision to use or access a particular drug, device or medical service…”As such, the term is ambiguous, unlimited, and potentially very expansive, and could include not only contraception and abortion, but also in vitro fertilization, human cloning, sex reassignment surgery, surrogacy and other procedures which are directly contrary to the beliefs and teachings of the Catholic Church.

To require Catholic Church employers to hire or retain staff who have undergone such procedures or who openly express support for them would substantially impair our ability to hire to mission and enforce our faith-based codes of conduct. In this regard, the legislation is in direct conflict with current protections in New York law (e.g., Executive Law Section 296[11]) which permit religious employers to take employment-related actions based on the religious principles upon which they are established or maintained. More


Contraception Insurance Coverage Expansion

Memorandum of Opposition

A.585 Cahill / S.659 Salazar
In Relation to Expanding Contraception Insurance Coverage

The above-referenced legislation would expand current law to require increased insurance coverage for contraception, abortion-causing drugs, and voluntary sterilization. The New York State Catholic Conference opposes this measure.

In 2002, New York State lawmakers passed the “Women’s Health and Wellness Act” which requires insurance plans with prescription coverage to cover FDA-approved contraceptive drugs and devices, and provides insufficient protections for religious employers.

The legislation now before you would go further by mandating cost-free contraceptives, requiring that a 12-month supply of contraceptives be covered at one time, and including emergency contraception (EC), the so-called “morning-after pill,” within this coverage. We believe that enabling such large amounts of prescription medication, particularly in such high doses as emergency contraception, to get into the hands of young people is irresponsible and dangerous public policy.

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Breaking up the Women’s Equality Act

by Kathleen M. Gallagher

Today some of the most ardent defenders of Governor Cuomo’s 10-point “Women’s Equality Act” (WEA) called for the passage of one of the individual planks of that Act as a stand-alone bill. This is pretty significant, considering that less than a year ago these same women were demanding “ten or none!”

The particular bill in question is a human trafficking victim protection act. Democratic pro-choice Assembly members Amy Paulin, Aileen Gunther, Barbara Clark and Gabriela Rosa passionately condemned sex trafficking and said all efforts must be made to end the horrific scourge. That includes separating it out from the omnibus 10-point WEA and “ending the politics,” they said.

Wow. We’ve been saying that for more than a year now. The Senate passed each of the nine individual women’s bills (including the sex trafficking measure) last June, but did not pass the unnecessary and dangerous abortion expansion. And all nine died in the Assembly chamber, primarily due to the staunch opposition of the Democratic female members. Even Governor Cuomo was willing to break up his own bill last year.

Let’s pray that Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver hears the pleas of these lawmakers and allows at least this one bill to stand on its own. It definitely has enough bi-partisan support to pass, and by increasing penalties and giving more tools to prosecutors, it really could have a huge impact on the lives of so many young, vulnerable girls who are sold like slaves and exploited in unspeakable ways.

The only dissension comes from the pro-abortion lobby group NARAL, which says the bills should remain linked. Lawmakers should ignore their shrill and obstructionist voice.


Public Witness for Life

by Kathleen M. GallagherIMG_1365

Thanks to all the pro-life New Yorkers who showed up at the Capitol last evening to protest abortion expansion in New York State. Hundreds and hundreds of them packed West Capitol Park and lined the streets with signs asking our government officials, “Can’t we love them both?”  The event was planned by the coalition New Yorkers for Life and drew in individuals and groups from all across the state united in opposition to the governor’s plan to expand late-term abortion.

Some press coverage of the event can be found here and here.

I was particularly moved by the diversity of the crowd: young and old, black, white and Hispanic, Democrat and Republican, male and female, Evangelical, Catholic and Jewish, from upstate and down, people from all walks of life. Everyone there was an integral part of that melting pot, blending together as one harmonious whole with a common goal: stopping abortion expansion and offering pregnant women life-affirming options.

I went home with the knowledge that I was part of something big and meaningful and blessed. Thanks to all who came and witnessed, for your sacrifice, commitment and prayers.


Statement in Response to Gov. Cuomo’s Counsel

Yesterday, Mylan Denerstein, counsel to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, issued yet another essay defending the governor’s abortion expansion bill and accusing the opposition of being “outrageous and disingenuous.” In fact, the Catholic Bishops and other opponents have been very clear and honest in expressing opposition. And, yet again, she makes statements defending the substance of a bill that they have declined to make public.

While much of the essay repeats her previous assertions, she does add one new line of argument, insisting that the governor’s plan to allow non-physicians to perform abortions would not change existing law. She states, “New York State law and regulations currently allow non-physician medical professionals (e.g. physician assistants) to perform the procedure in certain circumstances. Again, there is no change to that whatsoever.”

In fact, New York State law specifically says that only a “duly licensed physician” may perform an abortion. The bill known as the Reproductive Health Act (S.438) specifically repeals that language and replaces it with “licensed health care practitioner,” a category much broader than physician. Further, there are no regulations of which we are aware that would or could override that very clear language in the state’s Penal Law.

Is Ms. Denerstein being intentionally misleading or is she actually aware of physician assistants performing surgical induced abortions despite the clear prohibition in the Penal Law?

We invite her to clarify her remarks, and we respectfully ask her to reveal where these abortions by physician assistants are being performed in New York State and explain to health care consumers exactly how this could possibly be legal under existing state law.

It is becoming clear that the governor will eventually release a bill that contains changes to bills previously introduced. It is also clear, given the intentionally confusing language of Ms. Denerstein’s statements, that the ultimate bill will be intended to be as misleading as her statements have been. We will not be caught off guard and we do not believe the members of the Legislature, which has not accepted the previous versions of this bill, will be either.

The Catholic Conference represents New York State’s Bishops in matters of public policy.