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Governor Cuomo, Don’t Let Gosnell Be a New York Story, Too



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Today is round two of the #Gosnell tweetfest that broke the media blackout of the trial last week. Simultaneously, things are heating up in New York over Governor Cuomo’s plan to pass the Reproductive Health Act, which would remove nearly all regulations from late-term abortions in N.Y., among other things. At the Chiaroscuro Foundation, we sent an e-mail this morning making the connection between the two:

In New York, Governor Cuomo is seeking to expand abortion. Under the guise of “women’s equality,” he claims to be “codifying federal law.” Nothing could be further from the truth.

Governor Cuomo’s plans for abortion expansion would establish abortion as a fundamental right. As my friend Helen Alvaré explains, this goes far beyond federal jurisprudence, which treats abortion as only a liberty interest. This would make the passage of any common sense restrictions—restrictions supported by vast majorities of New Yorkers and Americans, like informed consent, 24-hour waiting periods, and basic regulation of abortion clinics—impossible. Even more disturbing is Governor Cuomo’s push to allow non-physicians to perform abortions, a notion which is in no way indicated by federal law. That idea that this unnecessary expansion could possibly make women safer is, prima facie, absurd.

Bill Hammond of the New York Daily News noted that while “[Governor Cuomo’s] plan would not legalize anything Gosnell is accused of doing,.. neither does it take any positive steps to prevent future Gosnells — by, for instance, setting standards under which professionals can perform abortions and under what conditions.”

Anyone interested in having a common-ground discussion about abortion in America should appreciate the opportunity these two caricatures of pro-abortion extremism present:

“Abortion seems like a polarizing issue in America. That’s the way it plays out in the press and in politics: America is a 50/50 pro-life to pro-choice country, with the advantage trending in the pro-life direction as millenials of the “sonogram generation” poll more pro-life than their parents. But this 50/50 narrative on abortion doesn’t begin to scratch the surface of opinion about abortion in the real world in America. Many Americans, and probably a growing number, find themselves in what columnist James Taranto calls the “mushy middle.” These people can see that the difference between “snipping” the spine of a just born child and crushing the skull of the same child inside the birth canal is the difference between illegal and legal, and nothing more. In fact, it is the difference between Kermit Gosnell and Leroy Carhart. But only one of them is on trial for murder.

Even in New York, where a majority identify themselves as pro-choice, there is a strong consensus in favor of more restricted abortion. According to a poll we commissioned, conducted by McLaughlin and Associates, more than three-quarters of New Yorkers support restrictions on abortion, such as informed consent and parental consent. And only 17 percent think women should have access to abortion through all nine-months of pregnancy.

Maybe Governor Cuomo just hasn’t heard these details yet. So, let’s make sure he does.

There may already be a Gosnell-type butcher at work in New York. Did New York State make a political decision not to inspect clinics like Pennsylvania did in the ’90s? We have a Freedom of Information request pending for inspection records in New York State and New York City. Unfortunately, if experience is any guide, we won’t have those record in time to influence the debate in New York. Abortion advocates long ago stopped advocating for “rare” abortion; by the looks of things in N.Y., they want to part with “safe” as well.

— Greg Pfundstein is president of the Chiaroscuro Foundation.



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