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Catholic Leaders Call for Cuomo to Be Excommunicated over Abortion Bill

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks during a news conference in New York City, N.Y., November 13, 2018. (Jeenah Moon/Reuters)

Some Catholic leaders are calling for the excommunication of Governor Andrew Cuomo in response to the late-term abortion bill he signed last week.

The bill, the so-called Reproductive Health Act, codifies Roe v. Wade in New York law and removes abortion from the state criminal code, legalizing the procedure up to the moment of birth in cases where the mother’s life or health are endangered or where the baby is non-viable. It also allows individuals other than doctors to perform abortions.

Previously, doctors in New York were only allowed to perform an abortion after 24 weeks of pregnancy if the mother’s life was in danger.

“Today we are taking a giant step forward in the hard-fought battle to ensure a woman’s right to make her own decisions about her own personal health, including the ability to access an abortion,” Cuomo said.

The governor, a Catholic who recalled his days as an altar boy in his State of the State address earlier this month, publicly celebrated the bill’s signing by ordering One World Trade Center and other landmarks to be lit up in pink.

Many Catholics, including some bishops, responded by urging Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York to excommunicate Cuomo. But Dolan, while admitting that he has gotten “wheelbarrows” of letters asking him to make that move, has indicated he is unlikely to do so, saying the governor is “not going to be moved by this, so what’s the use?”

“As the governor continues to distance himself from our communion, it may unfortunately result in that,” Albany bishop Edward Scharfenberger said Saturday on Fox News, adding that the punishment should be “a last resort.”

“It goes way beyond Roe v. Wade in so many ways, so I don’t see it as something to celebrate,” Scharfenberger added. “The kind of procedures that are now available in New York state, we wouldn’t even do to a dog or a cat. . . . It’s torture.”

“This vote is so hideous and vile that it warrants the act,” Tennessee bishop Rick Stika said in Knoxville, adding that if it were his decision, he might excommunicate “any Catholic legislator under my jurisdiction who voted for the bill as well as the governor.”

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