Yesterday in Albany, some 700 New Yorkers gathered in Albany to protest Governor Andrew Cuomo’s effort to expand abortion access in the state — even allowing non-doctors to perform them — in the name of women’s equality. Kathleen M. Gallagher, director of Pro-Life Activities at the New York State Catholic Conference, talks about the legislation and the state-house scene with National Review Online.
KATHRYN JEAN LOPEZ: Why is the Women’s Equality Act so bad? Why not support “Women’s Equality”?
KATHY GALLAGHER: The governor’s Women’s Equality Act is a nicely wrapped gift for the abortion lobby: late-term abortion on demand right up to delivery date, performed by doctors and non-doctors alike. It would give them everything on their wish list. It’s ironic that the gift is veiled in measures that truly aim to stop injustices against women, because the abortion language will simply increase the injustice and the tragedy of abortion for women.
LOPEZ: Who showed up to protest it on Wednesday in Albany?
GALLAGHER: About 700 pro-life New Yorkers were in Albany to stand up to stop this abortion expansion . . . women, men, young and old, Christian and non-Christian, black and white. They lined the corridors of the Capitol in solidarity to say no to this; they cheered for state-senate majority leader Dean Skelos, who has said the abortion language is extreme and unnecessary; they implored “pro-choice” senators to reconsider their positions. They held signs and wore shirts asking “Can’t we love them both?” They were a peaceful pro-life presence in the halls of power, and they demonstrated respect for human life by their demeanor and their words.
LOPEZ: Has Andrew Cuomo come a long way from his father?
GALLAGHER: Governor Andrew Cuomo has not offered any meaningful alternatives to abortion for women, and seems intent on increasing the unacceptably high abortion numbers in New York. And while his father, former governor Mario Cuomo, took the same “pro-choice” position as his son, Mario Cuomo at least put some programs in place to promote alternatives: a prenatal-care assistance program for low-income moms, a public-relations campaign to promote the adoption of hard-to-place children, and an adolescent pregnancy-prevention program that funded abstinence efforts, to name a few.
LOPEZ: Cardinal Dolan wrote to Catholics this past weekend about the legislation. Why should any Catholic care? Why should women care?
GALLAGHER: Cardinal Dolan and all the bishops in New York State sent messages to the Catholic faithful this week urging them to stand in opposition to this proposed law. “The direct taking of the life of a child in the womb in no way enhances a woman’s dignity,” they said. Catholics care about the dignity and health of women. That’s why we’re at the forefront of efforts to help victims of domestic violence and sex trafficking; that’s why we offer love and material support to women faced with unplanned pregnancies. Catholics know that more abortion hurts women and children, it doesn’t help them. It’s important for Catholics to know that their Church leadership is taking a strong proactive stand in saying yes to life, yes to the ethical integrity of medicine, yes to the feminine genius, yes to the protection of women and children.
LOPEZ: Can the governor make this better?
GALLAGHER: Governor Cuomo should drop the abortion plank from his ten-point Women’s Equality Act, because it poisons everything else and threatens to sink all the gains that could be made for women on other fronts. There is no need to expand abortion in New York State. Indeed, any changes to abortion policy in New York should move in the opposite direction — to contract abortion — to reduce the rate.
LOPEZ: What more can we do for scared women?
GALLAGHER: The Catholic Church is doing so much to help women who are frightened and isolated and feel they have no other choice but abortion. Take the Syracuse diocese this month: The Respect Life Office is holding meetings all over the diocese to educate people about the local crisis-pregnancy centers and homes for unwed moms that exist in their region, to make people aware of the life-affirming resources that exist in their own communities, so they can help steer women in that direction. (For more on this, talk to Lisa Hall.) In the Rockville Centre diocese, the Respect Life Office is working with Catholic hospitals to put in place a network of open doors and health services for pregnant women, to empower them to bring their babies to term. (For more on this, talk to Allison O’Brien).
Kathryn Jean Lopez is, among other things, a member of the Archdiocese of New York’s Pro-Life Commission.