Thank God for Andrew Cuomo. His rant Friday night, insisting that people who seek to defend the dignity of human life of the unborn and the sick and elderly are extremists, and are not fit to live in the state of New York is telling.
This banishment fantasy, of course, includes anyone who believes Catholic Church teaching on human life.
A few things to observe about what he said:
Look how far we have come since 1984. On Sept. 13 of that year, another Governor Cuomo, Andrew’s father, Mario, famously laid out his contention that being personally opposed to abortion – the taking of innocent human life – and being a public advocate for its legality and subsequent policy accommodations was an morally sound position for a Catholic in politics. Now we’ve moved away from pretending his is a coherent and theologically acceptable position. As we enter the week of the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision 41 years ago Wednesday, Andrew Cuomo explains that the only acceptable public position in the state of New York is to support legal abortion — and, based on his agenda, its expansion.
Ironically, Mario Cuomo justified his position as an exercise in protecting religious freedom. That incoherent slippery slope led to the Little Sisters of the Poor being told by the federal government to green-light abortion drugs, contraception, and female sterilization insurance coverage to employees. (See here and here and here and here for more on the case of the Obama administration vs. the Little Sisters of the Poor.)
Is Dad fit for New York? During his 1984 speech, Mario Cuomo talked of his and his wife’s personal consideration that “a fetus is different from an appendix or a set of tonsils.” Sounds like some of that crazy “right-to-life” talk his son just warned about! Fortunately for Mario, he said it in Indiana, at Notre Dame. Democratic politicians have been known to say crazy things there. President Obama, you might recall, said he would protect conscience rights in health-care reform in a much-protested speech there. Perhaps what is said in South Bend stays in South Bend? As we’ve seen with the Department of Health and Human Services abortion drug, contraception, sterilization mandate: As long as you don’t actually do anything with your moral conviction in the public square – including the charity you run or the business you operate – it’s tolerable to believe other than what those who confuse use with a cultural tyranny desire and issue regulatory and judicial mandates about when they can. Never mind that the life of the unborn tracks from science – seen on many a sonogram across the country — typically celebrated, scientifically unmistakable.
Who is the worst enemy of religious freedom: The enemy is within. Andrew Cuomo is a professed Catholic proclaiming the Gospel of secularism. Just as many a professed Catholic whose names are on the case names of all the lawsuits against the Department of Health and Human Services abortion drug, contraception, sterilization mandate.
Secularism is not just a religion for atheist and agnostics, but every practical atheist – every religious believer who doesn’t live any differently than the culture prescribes. Any Christian who isn’t constantly challenged by the mandates of the Gospel and the precepts of his faith contributes to the tsunami of secularism. Too many of us all too often fall into this category, some as a matter of fallen nature and bad habits, others as a matter of lukewarm faith and utter indifference. Make no mistake: We make it easier for politicians to push religious faith to the margins.
Did the governor think about what he said? I mean beyond the part where he banishes anyone with a heart for the unborn to New Jersey. He used the phrase “right-to-life.” That does suggest death to be the other option. At least he’s being honest about it – not screaming “Your body, your choice!” as he did during his state of the state address last year, veiling evil in faux empowerment. It’s more likely he didn’t think about it, he’s immune to it. A lot of our culture is. By looking away, we let evil happen and we are its accomplices.
Does the governor have any idea what happened two states away? Wendy Davis, star of standing athwart reasonable restrictions on late-terms abortions to protect some babies and women, had no idea who Pennsylvania’s Kermit Gosnell was when asked. (She is also happy to describe herself as “pro-life,” but you can read more thoughts on that here.) Cuomo’s Reproductive Health Act would make it easier for a Gosnell to operate in New York. Does Cuomo think the now jailed Gosnell is a hero who should be working at the Clinton Global Initiative? (Gosnell has voiced this as a dream of his.)
The Democratic party today. During the 2012 election cycle, Philadelphia archbishop Charles J. Chaput observed that a few decades ago he would have never would have thought the Democratic party would have become the party of legal abortion — there were too many Catholics in it. But the JFK posture of privatizing religion became the culture — now not just the preference, but mandated (see HHS Mandate). First Mario Cuomo pontificates. Then Bob Casey gets ostracized at his own party’s convention … and here we are: No room for “right-to-life” views in the Empire State. Mercifully the governor is not emperor. (Cue again to women on the frontlines of helping mothers and fathers and families embrace life, like Dr. Anne Nolte, Dr. Elissa Sanchez-Speach, the Sisters of Life, Cheryl Calire, Kathy Gallagher, Lisa Hall, Susanne Metaxas, Maria McFadden and Anne Conlon, and Theresa Bonapartis. The list goes on.)
History forgotten. I mentioned the suffragettes Friday night. When Andrew Cuomo took to his abortion-expansion campaign last year, a pro-life feminist accused him of “desecrating” “holy ground.” Former NY governor Hugh Carey regretted having been a “cafeteria Catholic,” particularly in not defending the lives of the unborn during his political career. Would Andrew Cuomo have asked him to leave the state? What about Daniel Patrick Moynihan considering partial-birth abortion infanticide? Go be a senator from one of those backward states. We don’t have room for your extremism here?
What passes for non-extremism these days: Abortion expansion as “women’s health” policy. The Women’s Equality Act includes a Reproductive Health Act in which all its iterations would make abortion easier to obtain in New York – lower standards equals less safe for women. Legislators went this direction in California, so apparently that’s not a state for pro-life exiles of Cuomo’s New York to consider as a new home. (Much more on the Women’s Equality Act here and here and here and here and here and here and here.)
Don’t let Andrew Cuomo get away with claiming he speaks for the women of New York state. Drs. Anne Nolte and Elissa Sanchez-Speach are among the doctors who have spoken out against his abortion-expansion push. Does the governor really believe that elected representative Nicole Malliotakis should not live, never mind hold public office in the Empire State simply because she disagrees with him on fundamental moral and political issues? Would he have the New York State Catholic Conference – a longtime, vocal opponent of his abortion-expansion push – close up shop? Mercifully, it’s not up to him. Pro-lifers still have the freedom to live in New York and are not packing their bags.
Anyone who claims the mantle of “tolerance” in the name of the institutionalization and mandating of sexual revolutionary values ought to be distancing themselves from Andrew Cuomo’s denunciation of what may just be the majority of New Yorkers. You don’t have to be an avowed or dedicated pro-lifer to find New York’s abysmally high abortion rates unacceptable. As pollster John McLaughlin has found, when New Yorkers realize the state of the state on abortion, they join the likes of Cardinal Dolan in protest.
Don’t let there be crickets on this. This is an outrageous intolerance from a governor looking toward his political future in the Democratic party, securing his good graces with the abortion industry who his party – and all too many politicians – are content to serve. This is the same intolerance and culture-war-waging that Catholics who oppose abortion and assisted suicide, and who support traditional marriage, are accused of waging. But notice who put the Little Sisters of the Poor in the position of having to insist the Supreme Court relieve them of an un-American conscience-violating mandate. Notice who it is telling New Yorkers who believe we have to protect the most innocent – and we most definitely ought not be making their shot at seeing the light of day any harder – are not worthy of residence in the Empire State. It’s not Cardinal Dolan (who recently won a court victory on religious liberty). It’s not the Little Sisters of the Poor. It’s not pro-life Democrat Ruben Diaz. It’s not even National Review, a New York mainstay since 1955! The assault on religious liberty and conscience in America is coming from a radical secularist ideology on the Left. The narrowing of freedom is not coming from people who propose alternatives to the sexual revolutionary values, but from those, like Andrew Cuomo, who insist on doubling down on a culture of death, coercing submission and banishing dissent, all while using words like tolerance and choice.
The governor was honest about his secularist ideological thinking. This is the battle today. This is his worldview and he’s not alone. As you see, even people who profess religious belief buy in. Indifference and surrender is buy-in, too.
Anyone who sees Andrew Cuomo’s posture (as he expressed it Friday) and policies (as represented by his Women’s Equality Act and its all important abortion-expanding Reproductive Health Act) as the affront to and assault on human dignity and the health of a democratic republic that it is better consider themselves civic players with some serious stewardship duties.
And even before that: If one professes to believe something: Live it, already! What are we waiting for? In private and in the public square. It’s that integration civil society needs — we all need.