New York Can Do Better

The New York Times today is actually refreshingly clear in a disturbing way in its cheerleading editorial on Andrew Cuomo’s “Reproductive Health Act” push: Of course, New York needs more abortion!

The New York Times buys into this tired old false dichotomy: That women’s freedom somehow is dependent on a war between mother and child. (And between a woman and her own biology, as the federal government now insists as a matter of health-care policy.) It’s a lousy, unacceptable state of events, really. And even if you don’t quite see the unacceptable part, because you know there are tough situations women find themselves in, you probably agree that more abortion is not what women — or any of us — need.

Here’s the situation in New York, via our editorial today, if you have doubts:

New York does not want for access to abortion. Two in five pregnancies end in abortion in New York City; the rate for black women is 60 percent. The statewide figures are lower, but they are high enough. There are about 250 abortion clinics in the state, and 93 percent of the state’s women live in a county that is home to an abortion facility, according to the Guttmacher Institute. Nationally, abortion kills the equivalent of the combined populations of Atlanta and Cleveland every year. All that with no help from Governor Cuomo. 

If Andrew Cuomo has his way, the Empire State will codify the radical mindset that seems to have taken hold lately: that if abortion isn’t quite preferred, it has come to be expected. It’s a mindset that all too many of us appear to be becoming indifferent to, as a matter of engagement. We’ve come a long way from “safe, legal, and rare.” And despite our misgivings, the brilliance of wrapping abortion into unobjectionable, anodyne-sounding packages tied up with “choice,” “health,” and “women” bows is that we don’t tend to have these debates honestly, out in the open. We only tend to talk about abortion anymore when someone brings up rape on the campaign trail. Let’s talk about the innocent lives ending on our watch. Let’s talk about the miserable expectations we’ve accepted. Let’s expose the radicalism and insist on something better.

This image might help with a new conversation:

Let’s stop letting people like Andrew Cuomo get away with hiding behind “reproductive rights” as some kind of moral high ground. What about human rights? What about human dignity?

And, as our editorial points out today, the Reproductive Health Act would trample on individual liberties, something we’re becoming all too comfortable letting radicals in executive positions do, particularly when it comes to a supposed clash between so-called women’s issues and religious liberty:

Like the abortion provisions in the Patient Protection Act, Governor Cuomo’s proposal is a gross assault on individual liberties. The free exercise of religion requires that institutions not be forced to violate their precepts and their consciences; freedom of speech means that counseling services must be free to express their views, regardless of whether those views are welcome in Albany. Even those who support the right to abortion ought to be able to appreciate that “choice” also applies to those who do not wish to provide abortions, to house abortionists, or to finance them.

We can do so much better. There is a civic call to stewardship of life and liberty that we’re missing here. 

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