“Not all women in New York State are applauding Governor Cuomo’s so-called women’s equality agenda. It’s a sham,” says Kathy Gallagher, pro-life director at the New York State Catholic Conference.
His presentation during his state of the state address last week was very much in keeping with abortion-expansion activists’ “a-word” avoidance. “It’s shameful, really, especially the way the governor delivered the message, with a video clip of newborns in a nursery, highlighting the disparity between the boy baby and the girl baby when they grow up,” Gallagher says. “He never spoke about the baby who never had a chance to grow up. It’s offensive to us women who know what his abortion expansion bill really does. It opens up late-term abortions for any and all reasons, allows non-physicians to perform abortions, threatens the religious liberty of Catholic hospitals and other institutions, makes abortion immune to any reasonable regulation, such as parental notification or taxpayer limits.” He doesn’t lead with these things, of course, and throws opposition to domestic violence, sexual harassment, and sex trafficking into the mix in order to make it appear conventionally un-opposable.
Cuomo’s reintroduction of the Reproductive Health Act should be a reminder, however, that abortion-expansion legislation “has been around for six years and never achieved a floor vote in either house,” as Gallagher points out. “The governor is using and exploiting these other women’s issues to expand abortion because he knows how hard it will be for lawmakers to vote against a packaged bill.”
It’s a strategy that might make him an early favorite of Planned Parenthood in the 2016 Democratic primary if he marshals this through.
But his packaging and approach should sound alarms. Like the federal Department of Health and Human Services mandate treating fertility as a disease, and those with a different view forced to choose between conscience and the law, Cuomo’s legislation “declares abortion to be a positive and ‘fundamental right’ and forbids ‘discrimination’ against that right,” Gallagher explains. The position of the Democratic party is increasingly to mandate that anyone opposed to abortion keep it personal — remember that the next time you hear a lecture about tolerance from the Left. As Gallagher points out, “‘Pro-choice is an empty slogan if people can’t choose to be pro-life. Pro-choice shouldn’t mean no choice.”
Could New York State use a real women’s agenda? Yes we could. We could encourage more families to adopt by offering tax credits or parental leave policies for them. We could help women facing unplanned pregnancies by assisting them in choosing life, i.e. putting more state dollars into alternatives and options for them (NYS currently gives less than $1 million for abortion alternatives). There are so many things we could do to work together to reduce abortion and the tragedy/isolation it brings to women and children. What women don’t need in a women’s agenda is lip service about equality and simply more abortions. That’s what the governor’s abortion expansion bill offers them.
Gallagher’s dismay at Cuomo’s push echoes concerns raised by New York’s Timothy Cardinal Dolan in a letter to the governor: “There was a time when abortion supporters claimed they wanted to make abortion ‘safe, legal, and rare.’ Yet this measure is specifically designed to expand access to abortion, and therefore to increase the abortion rate. I am hard pressed to think of a piece of legislation that is less needed or more harmful than this one.”
As for the bill itself:, Gallagher says, “We have to call his proposal what it is: a radical-unlimited-abortion-at-any-stage-of-pregnancy bill.” The governor’s posture posits that there are no reasonable regulations on abortion and you’re unreasonable if you suggest otherwise.