Bill Memos

Insurance mandate for in vitro fertilization

Memorandum of Opposition

Re: A.2817 Simotas / S.719 Savino
In relation to an insurance mandate for in vitro fertilization

The above-referenced legislation would require large group health insurance plans to cover the costs of in vitro fertilization (IVF), gamete and embryo transfers, and other assisted reproductive technologies.  The New York State Catholic Conference opposes this legislation, as well as language proposed in the 2019-2020 Executive Budget which would accomplish the same goals.

While the Catholic Church empathizes with childless married couples yearning for the joys of parenthood, the Conference holds grave concerns with this insurance mandate.  These concerns include the legislation’s a) requirement for funding acts that destroy innocent human embryos, both inside and outside the womb; b) endorsement of technologies which promote the manufacture of human beings, contribute to the breakdown of family relationships, and interfere with the natural act of marital sexual intercourse; and c) lack of any conscience protection for religious employers and those with ethical objections to assisted reproductive technologies.


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).


Home Stability Support Programs

Memorandum of Support

Re:  A.1620 Hevesi / S.2375 Krueger
In relation to Home Stability Support Programs

It is unacceptable that the Empire State has more than 150,000 homeless children and another 80,000 families on the brink of homelessness. Statewide, some 23,000 more people become homeless than escape homelessness every year.

The existing shelter allowance is woefully inadequate compared to the actual cost of housing where two-thirds of public assistance households are living in housing whose rents significantly exceed their shelter allowances. More than 82,000 households have rents that are 1.5 times or more than their shelter allowance. Nearly 21,000 households have rents that are 2.5 times their shelter allowances. As a result, many families are being forced into homelessness at no fault of their own.


Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act

Memorandum of Support

Re: S.2837 Ramos / A.2750 Nolan
In relation to the Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act

The Farmworker Fair Labor Practices Act would address a number of the exemptions in New York’s labor, public health and workers compensation laws that currently prevent farmworkers from accessing rights and privileges available to other workers. The New York State Catholic Conference supports this bill and strongly urges its long-overdue enactment by the legislature.

“For years, the Catholic Church has advocated for equal rights and fair treatment for farmworkers,” Timothy Cardinal Dolan, archbishop of New York, has said. “It is a human rights issue.” More

HALT Solitary Confinement Act

Memorandum of Support

RE: A.2500 Aubry / S.1623 Sepulveda
HALT Solitary Confinement Act

The HALT Solitary Confinement Act would limit the time an inmate can spend in segregated confinement, end the segregated confinement of vulnerable people, restrict the criteria that can result in such confinement, improve conditions of confinement, and create more humane and effective alternatives to such confinement. The New York State Catholic Conference strongly supports this legislation.

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture has denounced solitary confinement that exceeds 15 days. Additionally, there are far too many people in isolation, disproportionately people of color. On any given day, there are nearly 3,000 people in isolated confinement in New York State prisons, locked in concrete 6-by-10-foot cells for 23 hours a day. More

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

Commission on Prosecutorial Conduct

Memorandum of Support

Re: A.781 Perry / S.1190 Bailey
In relation to the State Commission on Prosecutorial Conduct

The above-referenced legislation has been introduced to amend the judiciary law, by making chapter amendments to Chapter 202 of the Laws of 2018, enacting the Commission on Prosecutorial Conduct.

This legislation makes a number of changes to the newly-created Commission on Prosecutorial Conduct, including: clarifying that the Commission, like similar state commissions, exists in the Executive Department; realigns the 11 member Commission by increasing the governor’s appointees from two to four; and decreasing the appointments by the legislative majorities by one member; clarifies who approves the appointment of the commission’s administration; modifies the commission’s subpoena powers so as not to interrupt active investigations or prosecutions; stipulates any admonishment or censure of a prosecutor will be done by the Appellate Division and not the Court of Appeals; and changes the effective date from May 1, 2019, to April 1, 2019.

The Catholic Conference supports these legislative amendments and strongly supports the reconstituted Commission on Prosecutorial Conduct.

The Catholic Conference has long advocated for reforms of the criminal justice system that protect the rights of the accused and the interest of those who have been victimized. This legislation is consistent with those efforts. It is in no one’s interest for individuals to be wrongly convicted or for guilty parties to not be held accountable as a result of inappropriate conduct on the part of prosecutors. Prosecutors have a duty to pursue justice and establishing standards in support of that goal benefits the legal system and society as a whole.


Memorandum of Opposition

A.747 Gottfried / S.1047 Hoylman
In relation to the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act

The New York State Catholic Conference recognizes the good intentions of the sponsors of this legislation to address unjust discrimination against individuals who are transgender or exhibit gender dysphoria. Every human being is made in the image and likeness of God, and we understand and appreciate the need for protections for all of New York’s citizens, each one having the same innate dignity as any other.

We are concerned, however, that there are legitimate religious principles which religious organizations may assert that may be compromised, and this legislation does not contain adequate religious liberty protections. Religious entities that, as a religious principle, recognize sexual identity and gender as a matter of biological fact, might be compelled to violate religious teachings by this proposed law. This is a concern regarding employment and benefits, and also in the operation of religious schools. 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


Memorandum of Support

A.782 De La Rosa / S.1250 Sepulveda
In relation to enacting the Jose Peralta New York State DREAM Act

The above-referenced legislation would enact the Jose Peralta New York State DREAM Act, and establish the DREAM Act Fund Commission. This would provide opportunities for immigrant students who meet certain criteria to be eligible for financial aid to assist them attend institutions of higher education.

The New York State Catholic Conference supports the Jose Peralta New York State DREAM Act, and strongly urges enactment of this legislation.