A used book store in Syracuse, NY, closes in mourning. Twitter post, via LifeNews
“It’s Just Us. We are in Control!” So said the newly re-elected Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York State as he signed into law a radical new abortion act on Tuesday. At the beginning of this year he commenced his third four-year term with the added benefit of having, for the first time, both houses of the state Legislature solidly under the control of his Democratic Party. He then lost no time in pushing ahead with an extreme social agenda, previously held in check by the erstwhile Republican majority in the state senate.
Foremost on Cuomo’s list was unfettered access to abortion. The state Senate and Assembly quickly and jointly presented the “Reproductive Health Act” on January 9th. The Governor vowed that it had to be passed within the first 30 days of his new term and subsequently enshrined via a special amendment to the state Constitution – just in case the US Supreme Court might have other ideas. The existing 1970 New York State law, which pre-dated Roe v. Wade, restricted abortion after 24 weeks unless the mother’s life was at risk. It was considered “outdated.”
The new Senate majority leader, Andrea Stewart-Cousins, a black woman representing Yonkers, the second largest city in the state, has been clamoring for the RHA since she first presented a similar proposal as far back as 2007 but which the prior Republican Senate majority consistently rebuffed.
To roll out the RHA, Cuomo held a rally at Barnard, the prestigious women’s college, that featured none other than former New York state Senator, Secretary of State and erstwhile presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, a champion of women’s so-called reproductive rights.
In the presence of such abortion advocates as Planned Parenthood (the organization reportedly spent $20 million through its political action committees in the November elections to elect Democratic candidates who supported abortion), the duo at the Barnard event took issue with the strong language and various abortion limiting actions of the Trump Administration, which Clinton referred to as “insane.”
As she had done on several occasions when she was Secretary of State, Clinton championed abortion not only as a woman’s right but as a human right – which is nowhere so defined. To underscore the importance and urgency of what they were advocating, the two politicos presented their cause against a backdrop that read: “Reproductive Justice. No Time to Wait.”
As an aside, Mrs. Clinton is a grandmother who is now awaiting her third grandchild.
The RHA completely de-criminalizes abortion. An abortion can be had at any stage of pregnancy, up until birth. In the event of a live birth, the baby can be left to die: its destiny was abortion after all. As if abortion until birth were not controversial enough, the new law also allows for abortion in cases of violence against a pregnant woman that may injure the fetus, intentionally or not, while de-penalizing the violent act, stating that other criminal laws exist to take care of the perpetrator.
The RHA, sponsored by 68 assemblymen and 34 senators was overwhelmingly approved and signed into law in the afternoon of January 22nd – the 46th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. The jubilant Governor, flanked by several women famed for abortion advocacy, signed the measure wearing a bright pink tie for the occasion. But that was not sufficiently celebratory. He ordered various monuments around the state to be bathed in pink lights for the occasion.
This included the newly built bridge across the Hudson River (recently replacing the Tappan Zee Bridge) which the Governor named for his father, Mario Cuomo, a previous governor famous for his abortion stance “personally opposed but.…” In New York City the tall antenna atop the iconic One World Trade Center was completely illuminated in pink lights, visible for miles, including from my window as I was writing this piece.
While Democrats in Albany, the state capital, were celebrating, having succeeded in adopting the RHA despite having received thousands of petitions from prolife sources, hundreds gathered in St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City at 6:30 pm for a special “Prayer Vigil for Life.”
Governor Cuomo succeeded in granting women access to abortion at any stage of pregnancy even though several other states have been implementing various restraints on the heinous procedure in line with popular opinion shifting against abortion. While other states have taken small steps to limit the practice, New York State just took a giant leap toward completely unfettered choice.
As quoted recently in the New York Times, the abortion-focused research organization, the Guttmacher Institute, determined that “At least 424 anti-abortion bills have been passed at the state level since 2010….” Moreover, apparently seven states have only one abortion clinic. Some abortion clinics have been forced to close either for lack of clients or lack of funds.
The RHA must have made the Guttmacher Institute extremely pleased. The head of Guttmacher, in accepting the annual Population Prize of the United Nations last June made a firm declaration that abortions totaled over 56 million, in a tone of voice that conveyed to the attentive audience that everyone should “get over it” because, well, it is just so common!
Abortion “laws” can be as permissive as their sponsors would like, but strong prolife efforts will continue to deter many pregnant women contemplating abortion to choose birth over death for the life they carry within.
By permitting abortion on demand and allowing non-doctors to perform the procedure, the New York Governor may be placing more women’s lives at risk. It would not be surprising to see a spike in the maternal mortality rate in the future. Data for the United States as a whole already indicate an increase – an unusual occurrence for a developed country. Permissive and legal abortion does not preclude maternal deaths, although detailed data are not available.
Abortion data for the United States differ widely and are usually available with a lag. The Guttmacher Institute estimated that there were 119,940 abortions in New York State in 2014, while the Centers for Disease Control, which collects nationwide data, indicated there were a total of 93,096 abortions in New York State in 2015, the latest numbers available.
Both sources indicated a decline from earlier years, a fact that may be attributable to the increased prevalence of abortifacient pharmaceuticals that allow for a “do-it-yourself” type of abortion that takes place in the privacy of one’s home.
Flush with self-confidence stemming from his party’s electoral success, Governor Cuomo, a lapsed Catholic, divorced father of three (he was married to a Kennedy, no less, for 15 years), and who currently cohabits, will continue to exercise his newfound political control to promote legislation of other controversial social measures already outlined for his third administration.
Now that abortion has been made a matter of ‘health’ law only, the Governor’s other top priorities include contraception largesse through the “Comprehensive Contraceptive Coverage Act,” special protections for transgenderism, and legalization of the recreational use of cannabis.
Often at the United Nations and elsewhere one hears references to the need for abolishing the death penalty. What worst death penalty can there be than the deliberate termination of the preborn who are innocent, voiceless and defenseless? Does being in complete political control in New York State entail such power as to redefine abortion as health without at some point encountering the ultimate “control” of the Author of Life?
Vincenzina Santoro is an international economist. She represents the American Family Association of New York at the United Nations.