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Prescribing Abortion Medication via Telehealth

Memorandum of Opposition

Re: S.1066-A Mayer
Relates to providing protections to health service providers who perform legally protected health services

The above referenced legislation purports to shield health care practitioners from legal action in other states for prescribing abortion medication via telehealth services. It also prevents medical malpractice insurers from taking adverse action against health care practitioners for providing these services. The New York State Catholic Conference is strongly opposed to this measure.


Statement on the Extreme Abortion Bill Failing in the US Senate

Below is a statement from Kristen Curran, director of government relations, on the failure of a radical abortion expansion bill in the US Senate.

Yesterday, the Women’s Health Protection Act failed to advance in the Senate. The measure would have effectively undone pro-life safeguards throughout the country, and legalized abortion throughout all nine months of pregnancy nationwide. The New York State Catholic Conference is pleased that the Senate Republicans, joined by Senator Manchin of West Virginia, opposed the bill. We are deeply grateful to those across New York that did the work of contacting legislators to voice their opposition.

The Women’s Health Protection Act serves as a reminder to pro-life citizens everywhere that we must remain ever vigilant. As abortion advocates continually seek ways to expand abortion further and further, we must hold our leaders to account and ensure that dangerous proposals such as this cannot succeed.

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

Letter from Bishops of NYS to Senators Schumer and Gillibrand re: Radical Federal Abortion Bill


Following is the text of a letter sent from the Timothy Cardinal Dolan and the Diocesan Bishops of New York State to U.S. Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand regarding the so-called “Women’s Health Protection Act.” To view a PDF of the original letters, click HERE.

September 29, 2021

Dear Senator,

As the Bishops of the eight Catholic dioceses of the State of New York, we write to express our unified and staunch opposition to S1975/HR3755, the “Women’s Health Protection Act,” a piece of legislation that would impose upon the entire nation a policy of unrestricted abortion on demand, for any reason, at any point in pregnancy, going well beyond the parameters of Roe v. Wade and subsequent Supreme Court decisions.

We are under no illusions. We know that on the matter of abortion policy, our views are radically disparate from yours. Nevertheless, we believe we have an obligation to speak out as a voice for the unborn, as well as for pregnant mothers who deserve so much more than this bill offers them. This legislation sends a message to women that abortion is their only option and their best hope, that it is something to be promoted and celebrated.

The truth is that abortion is something to be mourned, and it is often the most agonizing decision a woman will ever make. We believe our government should be offering pregnant women all of their options and the support services they need to empower them to choose to carry their babies to term, raise their families with dignity, or offer their child to a home which can appropriately and lovingly care for that child. Our public policies should reflect these priorities.

Here in New York State, our state legislature enacted the “Reproductive Health Act” in 2019, enshrining in state statute a policy of unlimited abortion on demand throughout nine months of pregnancy. We expressed our profound opposition at the time, and we continue to grieve for the mothers and infants harmed by this law.

But a majority of states in this great country have enacted laws to the contrary: policies to allow parents to be notified when their minor daughter is considering abortion; to provide informed consent to pregnant women; to prohibit state taxpayer funding of abortion; to require health and safety regulations in clinics; to require licensure and certification of abortion providers. All of these policies are allowable under Roe and subsequent cases. Yet all such policies would be invalidated in one fell swoop by Congressional passage of S1975. This authoritarian federal overreach undermines the will of the people through their elected state representatives, and does not bode well for our democracy.

Moreover, S1975 may very well nullify New York’s strong Civil Rights Law protection for health care professionals who do not wish to be involved in abortion, a law which so many rely upon to exercise their moral values and religious freedom. Is this how we want to repay our heroic health care workers who have served so valiantly throughout the ongoing pandemic?

In closing, we strongly urge you to reject this legislation and work to protect and strengthen the fundamental human rights of mothers and children.

Very Truly Yours,

Timothy Cardinal Dolan
Archbishop of New York

Most Rev. Edward B. Scharfenberger
Bishop of Albany

Most Rev. Nicholas DiMarzio
Bishop of Brooklyn

Most Rev. Michael W. Fisher
Bishop of Buffalo

Most Rev. Terry R. LaValley
Bishop of Ogdensburg

Most Rev. Salvatore R. Matano
Bishop of Rochester

Most Rev. John O. Barres
Bishop of Rockville Centre

Most Rev. Douglas J. Lucia
Bishop of Syracuse

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.

Policy-Based Exclusions

Memorandum of Opposition

Re: S1003-A Hinchey
Relates to providing information to patients and the public on policy-based exclusions

The above referenced bill would require the commissioner of health to collect from each healthcare facility a list of its policy-based exclusions and publish such information on the department’s website. The New York State Catholic Conference is opposed to this legislation.


Equality Amendment

Memorandum of Opposition

Re: A1283 Seawright/ S108-A Krueger
Equality Amendment

The above-referenced legislation would amend New York State’s Constitution to ban unjust discrimination against persons based on a broad variety of classes and characteristics. This version of the bill rightly applies the same level of protection to religion as it does to the expanded list of classes. While we strongly agree with the goal of protecting all human beings from unjust discrimination, we oppose this legislation as it seeks to enshrine the right to abortion in the New York State Constitution.


Reproductive Freedom and Equity Grant Program

Memorandum of Opposition

Re: S348-B Cleare / A361-A Gonzalez-Rojas
Enacts the reproductive freedom and equity grant program

The above referenced legislation would establish a grant program to provide funding to New York abortion providers and non-profit organizations to increase access to abortion. The New York State Catholic Conference strongly opposes this bill.


2022 End-of-Session Round-Up

Thank you for your support of the NYS Catholic Action Network. The 2022 Legislative Session in Albany has adjourned. We appreciate your action on several bills throughout the session. Below are some updates on legislation of interest to the New York State Catholic Conference.

Respect Life/Moral Values

Physician-Assisted Suicide: Once again this issue did not get a vote in the Health Committee of either house, because in each case proponents were still one or two votes short, thanks to your advocacy. Our memo of opposition is here.

Hospice Care: A package of two bills to increase access to palliative care and hospice care, and create a public service awareness campaign, passed both houses. The Catholic Conference worked with the Senate sponsor on this legislation. Our memo of support is here.

“Equality Amendment”: This proposed constitutional amendment will add additional protections for abortion rights in the state constitution. The amendment’s passage is the first in a three-step process; it will need to pass again by a separately elected legislature before going to a popular referendum. While the original version of the bill did not, this version maintains the same level of scrutiny for “creed or religion” as the other protected classes. Our memo of opposition is here.

“Abortion Sanctuary”: The legislature passed a series of abortion-related measures as a response to the possible reversal of Roe v. Wade. The bills were all focused on “protecting” women who come from out of state or doctors who perform abortions on out-of-state women from liability. Our memo of opposition is here.

Pro-Life Pregnancy Centers: The legislature passed a bill long opposed by the Conference that authorizes a “study” of pro-life pregnancy centers with the purpose of harassing them and a finding that the centers do not provide the “full range of services” for pregnant women. Unfortunately this bill got caught up with the above abortion bills in the Senate, which helped its passage. We have called on Governor Hochul to veto this bill, as it has nothing to do with her stated goal of “safeguarding access” to abortion and only serves to limit alternatives and harass good people providing crucial services to women. Our memo of opposition is here.

Gun Control: In the wake of the two most recent mass shootings, Governor Hochul called for a package of new measures, including a licensure requirement and raising of the age for purchasing or possessing semi-automatic weapons, adjustments to the state’s existing “red flag” law, and other measures. We supported the entire package, which passed both houses and was signed into law. Our memo of support is here.

Human Composting: Sadly, both houses took up and passed this bill late in session to authorize the process of composting of human remains, which converts the human body to soil in an accelerated fashion, where it may then be scattered, buried or used as fertilizer. The Conference has opposed this bill since its introduction a couple of years ago, and our opposition was mentioned during the floor debate in the Assembly. Our memo of opposition is here.

Protecting Children/Criminal Justice

Clean Slate Act: This bill would automatically seal most criminal convictions, misdemeanors and felonies, after a period of time. The Conference has expressed strong concerns that the legislation would impact our ability to do effective background checks on employees and volunteers in our programs who work with children. Only organizations required to do fingerprint-based background checks would get access to the sealed criminal histories, which does not include our schools and parishes. Our memo of concern is here. The bill passed in the Senate but did not come up for a vote in the Assembly. 

Catholic Schools

Health, Safety & Security: We tripled funding, from $15 million to $45 million, to support health and safety projects, including a new authorization to cover critical repair and maintenance and other capital needs of religious and independent school facilities such as air purification systems, roof repair and remediating any hazardous conditions.

STEM:  $58 million, a nearly 40 percent increase, is included to reimburse schools for a portion of the salaries of Science, Technology, Engineering & Math teachers.

Mandated Services Aid (MSA) and Comprehensive Attendance Policy (CAP): A total of $195,028,000, an increase of $1.9 million, is provided to fully reimburse schools for mandated administrative costs for the 2021-22 school year.

Immunization: We were able to restore $1 million, not included in Governor Hochul’s Executive Budget proposal, to reimburse our schools located in New York City, Buffalo, and Rochester for expenses in complying with the state’s childhood immunization program. 

Federal COVID Relief: We secured language in the budget to guarantee that all federal funding under the Emergency Assistance for Nonpublic Schools (EANS) programs will remain available to reimburse religious and independent schools for on-going COVID-related expenses. 

Substantial Equivalency:  We were successful in getting the Regents to revise their proposed regulation enforcing the state’s “substantial equivalency” standards on religious and independent schools. The proposed regulation now recognizes multiple and long-standing pathways through which the overwhelming majority of religious and independent schools (including ALL Catholic schools) will be determined “substantially equivalent” automatically by the State Education Department (SED). This means our schools will NOT be reviewed by local public school authorities (LSAs), which is a major victory for our schools and families. The NYS Council of Catholic School Superintendent’s comments on the proposed regulation praise the Regents and SED for permitting our schools to continue to demonstrate our success as we have done for many years. The comments go on, however, to reiterate our opposition to SED assigning LSAs with the responsibility to review the few remaining schools which do not fall under any of the multiple pathways. The Regents intend to adopt the regulations in order to be effective during the coming school year.

2019 End-of-Session Round-Up

Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger of Albany watches the Assembly debate on the Farmworker Fair Labor Practices Act from the chamber’s gallery June 19, 2019.
(Franchesca Caputo/The Evangelist)

The New York State Legislature wrapped up the 2019 session in the early morning hours of June 21. The session was among the most active in memory, as the new Democratic majority in the state Senate, joined with the Democratic Assembly majority and the Democratic Governor to take on many issues that had previously been staunchly opposed by Republicans. Below is a synopsis of major issues tracked by the Catholic Conference and their outcome.