Respect Life Blog

Which is more dangerous: tanning or abortion?

Date posted: December 11, 2013

by Kathleen M. Gallagher

Today the New York City Board of Health voted to assume regulatory control over tanning salons. City Health Commissioner Thomas Farley called the practice of indoor tanning “unnecessarily dangerous.” So, since the city has no power to ban the salons, they are going to vigorously enforce the health and safety standards on the books: cracking down on unlicensed shops; requiring operators to undergo training; ensuring there are adequate warning signs and eye-ware for patrons; and certifying that no one under 17 years old gets inside (that’s state law.)tanning salon

All good. I have no beef with any of it. But come on! When was the last time New York City did anything about the unlicensed abortion clinics all over the five boroughs? Shouldn’t abortion facilities be held accountable to at least the same standards as tanning salons to protect the health and safety of women? Are routine inspections ever done to ensure trained staff, sanitary conditions, emergency back-up, and overall patient well-being?

The murder convictions against Philadelphia late-term abortionist Kermit Gosnell earlier this year should give us all pause. Gosnell blatantly disregarded the law, preyed on indigent women who were in their final weeks of pregnancy, and callously killed at least one woman and three babies born alive in his abortion mill. The grand jury report on his actions indicated that his abortion facility was not inspected in 17 years, and that the reason for this was purely political: administration officials concluded that inspections would be “putting up barriers to women seeking abortion.”

C’mon, New York City, we are better than that, aren’t we? Please, please enforce the law, inspect the clinics, provide necessary oversight, and safeguard vulnerable women.

“My Abortion”

Date posted: November 13, 2013

by Kathleen M. Gallagher

I just came across this feature article in this week’s edition of New York Magazine. It’s quite possibly the saddest thing ever. A decidedly “pro-choice” publication, the magazine shares 26 personal stories of women who have had abortions. Their words are filled with regret, uncertainty, and shame. And even those women who don’t express such feelings outright, reveal deep pain and loss when you read between the lines.

Abortion rights advocates have a new campaign they are promoting to strengthen support for abortion. In their words, they want to “end the stigma and shame women are made to feel about abortion.”

I have news for them. Women are not made to feel that way. Abortion goes against human nature. And women, particularly women who have gone through it, know that.

Abortion is what it is. It will never be something to laud or to celebrate.


Identity Theft – DNA Style

Date posted: September 10, 2013

by Kathleen M. Gallagher

Last month an historic agreement was reached between the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the family of a woman named Henrietta Lacks. It didn’t get a lot of media attention, but it is critically important. If you’ve heard of Henrietta’s name, it’s likely because of the 2010 book, “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by Rebecca Skloot, a non-fiction gem that stayed on the New York Times bestseller list for two years. The book begins with this quote from Elie Wiesel from “The Nazi Doctors and the Nuremberg Code”henrietta lacks

“We must not see any person as an abstraction. Instead, we must see in every person a universe with its own secrets, with its own treasures, with its own sources of anguish, and with some measure of triumph.”

Read my column on the new NIH pact and why it’s important here, in the Tablet, the newspaper of the Diocese of Brooklyn.

Protecting women in California

Date posted: August 19, 2013

by Kathleen M. Gallagher

Bravo for Governor Jerry Brown in California! Last week the Democratic governor vetoed a bill that would have made California the second in the nation to allow women to sell their eggs to researchers. In his veto message, the Governor said, “Not everything in life is for sale, nor should it be.” Amen to that.

Paying women for their life-giving eggs to empower scientists to clone human embryos (and then destroy them!) is exploitative, dangerous and immoral. As Governor Brown noted, the risks to women are basically unknown at this point, and therefore too high in relation to the supposed benefit.  There is absolutely no biological benefit to the woman donor, and since there is no therapy associated with cloning or embryo research, there is no clinical benefit to society either.  This isn’t like donating an organ for transplant to save someone’s life.femaleeggs

Women’s groups like NOW say that Governor Brown’s action is condescending and continues the so-called “war on women.” Nonsense. Governor Brown’s veto protected women, particularly poor women, immigrants, the unemployed, and college students who might be desperate for cash.

Tragically, in 2009 New York became the first state in the nation to allow financial payments to women who “donate” their eggs for cloning purposes. Yes, the state that says it’s cracking down on human trafficking currently allows and abets trafficking in human embryos.

It’s good to know that not everything New York does is emulated on the West Coast.

Abortion expansion was not needed and not wanted

Date posted: July 19, 2013

by Kathleen M. Gallagher

“You’re either pro-choice, or you’re not pro-choice,” Governor Andrew Cuomo repeatedly said this past legislative session, demanding that lawmakers vote on his bill to expand abortion rights in New York. He called the issue a “binary” one, meaning, I suppose, there are only two positions.

Now that the State Senate has rebuffed the Governor’s demands, the Governor says the issue will be an electoral one, and we can expect him to ramp up the abortion litmus test in the coming election year.

But I beg to differ: abortion is not a black and white issue with two sides and nothing in the middle. In fact, most people are in the middle. This recent New York Times piece confirms this fact, relying on reputable pollsters like Gallup and Pew. Why? Because people, even self-described “pro-choice” people, are very uncomfortable with later-term abortion.Gallup on Abortion 2013

It makes sense. As the baby grows inside the womb week by week, his or her identity develops, too. We identify with those little human beings. We watch them kick their legs and suck their thumbs on the ultrasound. We take pains to protect them from the hazards of second-hand smoke and alcohol poisoning.

Yet the abortion bill trumpeted by the Governor would have eliminated the protections in New York law for fully-formed unborn infants in the last trimester of pregnancy. It was all about late-term abortion. Current New York law says abortion is prohibited at that time unless the life of the mother is in danger. The Governor wanted to replace that with a broad anything-goes “health” exception for abortions after 24 weeks. And the Supreme Court has already said that when states opt for a broad health exception, abortion can be allowed at any time right up to the due date for virtually any social, economic or psychological reason.

Why would New York want to encourage more late-term abortions? We already have the highest abortion rate in the nation. We should be working to decrease the unacceptably high abortion numbers in New York and provide life-affirming alternatives to women faced with unplanned pregnancies. Politicians who say they want to make abortion “safe, legal and rare” should advance policies that reduce the tragedy of abortion. We need an abortion contraction bill, not an abortion expansion.

The Governor wrapped his late-term abortion expansion in a “women’s equality” package of nine other non- controversial policy changes such as strengthening laws against sex trafficking, stopping sexual harassment, and achieving pay equity in the workplace.  As a woman, I applaud those advances, but I am insulted that an abortion expansion was part of the mix. More abortion will do nothing to empower women, help us achieve equality or enhance our health or dignity.

Bravo to Senate Co-Majority Leader Dean Skelos for ensuring that his house passed each of those other improvements for women, and for saying no, we won’t vote on an unnecessary, unwanted and dangerous expansion of late-term abortion in our state.  And shame on the Assembly representatives who voted yes on abortion while failing to pass the other nine bills individually so they could be enacted into law. Governor Cuomo is right about one thing: we voters will remember at the polls.

How did your legislators vote on abortion bill?

Date posted: July 2, 2013

Find out how your legislators voted on the abortion bill below. The Assembly voted on the 10-point Women’s Equality Act, which included the abortion expansion provision. The Senate voted on allowing a hostile amendment with just the abortion language. In the Senate case, an “AYE” vote to overrule a decision of the acting president to allow a vote, is a pro-life vote. In the Assembly, a NAY vote on the bill is a pro-life vote.

Senate vote on abortion amendment

Assembly vote on abortion bill

That Quinnipiac Poll

Date posted: June 8, 2013

by Kathleen M. Gallagher

The Quinnipiac University poll released on June 6 got a lot of headlines. “More than two-thirds of voters support Cuomo’s abortion proposal” screamed the NY Post.  Was I reading that right? How could that be?

The answer is complex, so stay with me on this one.

First, the poll was deceptive in failing to define terms. It surveyed the question “Do you support making it legal for a woman to have a late-term abortion if her health is at risk?” Now what do you think of when you hear the term “health is at risk?” Cancer? Gestational diabetes? Preeclampsia? Most of us would think of something more than the common cold, right?

Well, the U.S. Supreme Court has defined “health” in regard to abortion, and it’s not what most people think. In the 1973 companion case to Roe v. Wade, the Court defined “health” as “…all factors relevant to the well-being of the patient…including physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and a woman’s age…”

So polling people’s attitudes about legalizing late-term abortion when a woman’s health is at risk is misleading at best. How would they feel about legalizing abortion for a woman who is eight months pregnant but just too stressed out to have a baby? Or a housewife who is expecting twins but only wants one child? According to the Court, each of those situations puts a mother’s “health at risk,” but I’d bet money most New Yorkers wouldn’t approve of those late-term abortions.

Second, the poll was incomplete. It didn’t ask New Yorkers about all of the Governor’s bill, only part of it. It’s unfair to say that 2/3 of New Yorkers back the Governor’s plan when they haven’t been informed of all the plan’s components. One part I’d bet they don’t support is the repeal of current law that says only a doctor may perform surgical abortions. The Governor’s plan would grant the Health Department the authority to decide who could do the surgery. Midwives? Nurse practitioners? Social workers? Who knows? It’s certainly not spelled out in the Governor’s bill.

Third, the Quinnipiac poll also asked respondents whether they thought abortion should be legal in all cases, most cases, few cases or no cases.  Only 26% of voters said abortion should be legal in all cases, yet that is exactly what the Governor’s bill would do! The Women’s Equality Act would enshrine Roe v. Wade in New York law, allowing for virtual abortion-on-demand through all nine months of pregnancy for any reason. And it would virtually eliminate the possibility of any meaningful regulations on abortion such as parental notification or funding restrictions, which most voters enthusiastically support.

I don’t put too much weight in the Quinnipiac poll findings on the Governor’s abortion expansion plans. And you shouldn’t either.


Don’t let NY be a haven for the next Gosnell

Date posted: May 22, 2013

by Kathleen M. Gallagher

Here’s my latest column, as published in the Long Island Catholic, on late-term abortionist Kermit Gosnell and New York’s abortion expansion bill.

It was more than two years ago that I read the Philadelphia grand jury report on Dr. Kermit Gosnell. I remember it made me sick to my stomach. The report begins, “This case is about a doctor who killed babies and endangered women.”

To continue reading, go here.

Abortion expansion and unborn victims of crime

Date posted: May 10, 2013

by Kathleen M. Gallagher

The horrendous crimes that took place in a Cleveland house for the past ten years are so disturbing, they are difficult to comprehend: kidnappings, assaults, rapes, and God-knows-what-hasn’t come to light yet. Crimes against human life, all of them.Missing Women Found

Now prosecutors in Ohio say they will file murder charges against the alleged perpetrator for purposefully terminating the pregnancies of his female captives against their will. One victim says she was pregnant at least five times over the years, and each time her abductor starved her and repeatedly punched her in the gut until she miscarried her baby.

These murder charges can be filed in Ohio because, since 1996, Ohio has had an “unborn victims of violence” law allowing infants, prior to their birth, to be classified as victims of assault or homicide. Tragically, New York State does not have such a law.

New York does, however, permit some criminal charges for violent attacks on unborn children such as those that occurred in Cleveland. The crime is called illegal “abortional act,” and it can bring a maximum penalty of seven years in prison.

Here’s the thing: the crime of “abortional act” and its consequences would be removed from New York’s laws if the “Reproductive Health Act’ is enacted. That’s right – if the abortion expansion proposal now under serious consideration in Albany is passed, there could be absolutely no criminal charges brought for such horrifying crimes. And New Yorkers can pretty much forget about ever making it a murder charge for someone to kill an unborn child, the way Ohio and 35 other states do. Nope, all criminal charges would be wiped off the books.

That’s not justice. That’s the opposite of justice, for both mothers and their children. Please, take action now.

Public Witness for Life

Date posted: April 16, 2013

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.