The Diagnosis Is In
A New York doctor says Cuomo’s abortion push is harmful to women.


Kathryn Jean Lopez

LOPEZ: Why would New York need waiting periods and parental involvement when it comes to abortion? Haven’t you heard that girls can get Plan B at any age? Who needs parents? The “women” under 18 belong to the village, don’t they? The parents may not know what is best for them.

SANCHEZ-SPEACH: By prohibiting requirements for parental involvement in the abortion decision of a minor, we are contributing to a vicious cycle that is propagated and perpetuated by a breakdown of the family unit. The sharp rise in divorce rates since the early 1960s has been followed by increased numbers of teens living in single-parent households, and by increased teen-pregnancy rates, sexually transmitted diseases, teen suicides, and abortion rates. To exclude parents from their daughter’s abortion decision — when young women cannot even get a Tylenol from the school nurse without a note from home — is just adding fuel to the fire. I cannot imagine my two teenage daughters being able make a fully informed choice on this matter, and we are deluding ourselves if we attribute this ability to teens in general. We are harming, not helping them, by taking family out of the picture.


A strong majority of New York voters, ostensibly “the village,” approve of commonsense regulations such as a waiting period and parental notification. Now more than ever, “the village” would like to see the passage of responsible legislation that will not further endanger our children.

LOPEZ: You write that “it seems doubtful that after forty-three years of legalized, frequent abortion, Cuomo’s law making abortion permissible up to the day of birth will result in fewer abortions overall.” But why should we be counting? It’s a choice. It’s about women’s freedom, we are told. 

SANCHEZ-SPEACH: Today we have a distorted perception of the meaning of freedom. We equate freedom with license — the ability to do whatever we wish at any cost. Yet the meaning of freedom, as articulated by thinkers ranging from Plato and Aristotle to our Founding Fathers, is to pursue truth and goodness, so as to know the good of the individual and of the community. Since abortion, particularly late-term abortion, is often harmful to women, we need to ask ourselves if establishing a “fundamental right” to abortion at any stage of pregnancy truly advances freedom.

LOPEZ: “By moving abortion from criminal law to public health law, the [Women’s Equality Act] would change the very nature of abortion law.” Why is this important? 

SANCHEZ-SPEACH: Although I am by no means an expert in the law, it seems to me that the decriminalization of abortion-related crimes would not benefit women at all. If anything, it leaves them with minimal recourse to justice should things not work out as planned.

LOPEZ: Is Governor Cuomo’s legislation particularly perplexing after the Kermit Gosnell trial in Philadelphia? What kinds of questions should that have raised?

SANCHEZ-SPEACH: In many places, the deregulation of abortion has increased the incidence of illegal abortion. In the Gosnell case, we saw a licensed and supposedly regulated physician performing horrendous crimes with impunity. How can we possibly think that radically deregulating abortion, including by using vague criteria for determining who can perform the procedure, will lead to safer and rarer abortions? By removing abortion-related crimes from the penal code, won’t we be vastly increasing opportunities for these monsters to capitalize on the fears and vulnerability of pregnant women? Wouldn’t it make more sense to propose stricter regulations on the practice of abortion in order to prevent exactly this type of scenario? We are naïve to trust the “good faith” intentions of abortion providers in such a lucrative field.

LOPEZ: You’re a pro-life doctor in New York. Why not give up on the state? If the governor’s agenda is any indication, you’re not the average Empire State woman. 

SANCHEZ-SPEACH: Polls show that the strong majority of New York voters, including those who label themselves “pro-choice,” believe there is already sufficient access to abortion in their state, oppose non-physicians performing abortions, and approve of commonsense regulations such as a waiting period and parental notification for minors. By pandering to the agenda of radical pro-abortion groups, such as Planned Parenthood and NARAL, Governor Cuomo is the one who is out of step with mainstream New Yorkers, not I.

— Kathryn Jean Lopez is editor-at-large of National Review Online and a director of Catholic Voices USA.


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