The bishops of New York decried on Thursday the likely passage of the Reproductive Health Act, which would expand abortion access throughout the state, noting it will only increase family suffering.
The bill was first introduced in 2007, but was often blocked by a Republican-led state senate.
The New York state senate recently returned to Democrat-majority control for the first time since 2010, and the bill is widely expected to become law.
The Reproductive Health Act would allow health care professionals like nurse practicioners and physicians assistants to perform abortions, and permit late- abortion at any time throughout pregnancy in case of fetal inviability or “when necessary to protect a patient’s life or health.”
Under current New York law, abortion past 24 weeks is illegal except when necessary to save the life of the mother.
The bill would also decriminalize abortion, transferring it to the health code from the criminal code.
“Words are insufficient to describe the profound sadness we feel at the contemplated passage of New York State’s new proposed abortion policy. We mourn the unborn infants who will lose their lives, and the many mothers and fathers who will suffer remorse and heartbreak as a result,” the bishops of New York state said Jan. 17.
“The so-called ‘Reproductive Health Act’ will expand our state’s already radically permissive law, by empowering more health practitioners to provide abortion and removing all state restrictions on late-term procedures. With an abortion rate that is already double the national average, New York law is moving in the wrong direction.”
The bishops recalled their pledge “to offer the resources and services of our charitable agencies and health services to any woman experiencing an unplanned pregnancy, to support her in bearing her infant, raising her family or placing her child for adoption. There are life-affirming choices available, and we aim to make them more widely known and accessible.”
They noted that Governor Andrew Cuomo and state legislators “hail this new abortion law as progress.”
“This is not progress,” the bishops countered. “Progress will be achieved when our laws and our culture once again value and respect each unrepeatable gift of human life, from the first moment of creation to natural death. Would that not make us truly the most enlightened and progressive state in the nation?”
Americans United for Life CEO Catherine Glenn Foster told CNA earlier this month that the bill would not protect women’s health, but rather trip away health and safety regulations on abortion providers.
“Under Gov. Cuomo’s leadership, New York nail salons will be more regulated than abortion facilities,” Foster stated.
Cuomo has also called for the addition of a provision to the state constitution “protecting a woman’s right to control her own reproductive health.” Such an amendment could not be passed before 2021.
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