The Corner

We Need Transparency about Cuomo’s Call to Take New York Way Beyond Roe

Michael Benjamin has an important piece in the New York Post about abortion in the Empire State. As readers of NRO are aware, Andrew Cuomo has made expanding New Yorkers’ access to abortion one of his administration’s top priorities.

As Benjamin notes, the governor has been unclear about details, but Cuomo’s version of the Reproductive Health Act would be radical in ways even liberal New Yorkers would be outraged by:

It would ban the prosecution of criminals who cause the death of an almost-born child. This has absolutely nothing to do with Roe or protecting women; so its inclusion is especially odd — if not wrong.

New York’s Penal Law specifically includes in the definition of homicide the death of “an unborn child with which a female has been pregnant for more than 24 weeks.” There’s no doubt that the public supports prosecuting criminals who kill an unborn baby.

You need only look at a few real cases to realize that repeal would be a big mistake.

Last year, a Buffalo man was charged when he attacked a pregnant woman — punching her and kneeing her in the stomach, causing a miscarriage. Other cases involve criminals who murdered a mother and their soon-to-be born child at the same time: Erin Jade Smith in 2010; Ysemmy Ramos in 2009; Niasha Delain and her 9-month-old unborn child in 2008; Barbara Santos and her 9-month-old unborn son Nathaniel in 2007; the list goes on.

Why should these babies and families like these be denied justice?

Second, the bill removes age restrictions on abortion — removing parents’ ability to decide whether their children under the age of 16 has access to contraceptives and morning-after abortion pills. Sorry: This decision is between parents and a child, based on circumstances and their own beliefs; it shouldn’t be decided by a bunch of politicians. Nor should third parties, such as the city Education and Health departments, be able to give a 12- or 13-year-old contraceptives or abortion pills behind her parents’ backs.

Third, the bill would let non-doctors perform abortions and make medical judgments about when a mother’s life might be in danger. The definition of the “practitioners” who could legally do the operation is broad and ill-undefined — an irresponsible and dangerous provision.

Fourth, the bill removes accountability for doctors who perform an illegal procedure that leads to the death of a woman. New York’s current, liberal abortion law still seeks to ensure some accountability, by allowing the prosecution of a doctor who performs an illegal abortion that leads to a woman’s death can be prosecuted.

The unnecessary, radical nature of Cuomo’s bill is a main reason why it didn’t become law even under Eliot Spitzer. Cuomo’s insistence in including it under an umbrella of all kinds of supposed goods for women, some of them worthy and unobjectionable, is a manipulative way for him to pressure New York legislators into voting for the bill. Cuomo’s dishonest strategy is aimed at getting Democratic presidential credentials with the abortion industry. New York deserves better from its governor. Regardless of your position on abortion, you can agree; many do, as the one poll that’s been taken on the matter shows. Doctors agree. New York doesn’t need this.

Forty years after Roe, so many have been hurt by abortion. And Andrew Cuomo wants to make things worse? His legislation certainly would do so, expanding abortion where it’s already most common, where women all too often feel like they have no options. 

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