When it comes to the new Reproductive Health Act, Gov. Cuomo's deception is astonishing.
With all due respect, what a self-serving deceiver Governor Cuomo is. Like the proverbial serpent in the Garden, he loves to shade the truth. He wrote an op-ed piece for the New York Times (“Trump’s Assault on Abortion Rights Must Be Rejected,” Feb. 6). In it, Cuomo alleges: “Contrary to what its detractors claim, the Reproductive Health Act does not allow abortions minutes before birth, nor does it allow third-trimester abortions ‘for any reason.'”
For Any Reason
Detractors don’t say “for any reason” but rather “for virtually any reason” or “for all intents and purposes for any reason.” Here’s why: The newly added “or health” phrase includes not only non-life-threatening “physical” health but also “emotional” and “psychological” health, “familial” health (including social and economic factors), and health as it relates to “the woman’s age” (feeling too old to care for a child); in short, “all factors … relevant to the wellbeing of the patient” (so Doe v. Bolton, IV.C ). As I said: for virtually any fabricated reason.
Even the old “life” section is dishonest. It allows a woman to abort her viable preborn child. It is never required that the baby be killed in order for the mother’s life to be saved (go here, here, and here). Getting a C-section is quicker and safer for the distressed mother. It does not require the mother to wait the 2 days necessary for performing a late-term abortion on a baby of ample size.
Abortions Minutes Before Birth
Furthermore, Cuomo is flat-out lying when he claims that the Act “does not allow abortions minutes before birth.” So long as the baby has not made it fully through the birth canal the baby is fair game. Indeed, it defines a “person” (when referring to the victim of a homicide) solely as “a human being who has been born and is alive.” It also removes abortion completely from the criminal code (see below). The Act provides no punishment for any health care professional to perform an abortion. There’s no punishment even when not done on the grounds of “life or health.” In short, the viable preborn child has no rights that the state is bound to respect.
Cuomo adds: “Third-trimester procedures are extremely rare, making up only about 1 percent of all abortions” (actually it’s 1.3 percent for the 21st week on). Cuomo conveniently neglects to mention that this “extremely rare” occurrence accounts for the killing of anywhere between 8,500 to 12,000 viable preborn babies annually. When there is a mass murder involving the killing of 5 people it’s national news for weeks. Democrats cry out for all manner of new gun control laws. Yet for Cuomo, apparently, it is of no great import that 10,000 viable babies (give or take a couple of thousand) can be murdered every year. The pregnancy could just as well be terminated by C-section. At least then most cases would result in a live baby rather than a dead baby through the brutal torture of stabbing and dismemberment.
Protecting the Kermit Gosnells of the World
Cuomo claims that the Act does not go beyond Roe and Doe. Yet he fails to mention three aspects of the new law that cannot be attributed to Roe or Doe. First, the Act removes abortion from New York’s criminal code. Previously criminal sanctions were imposed on physicians who performed illegal late-term abortions.
Second, the Act even rescinds a section of Public Health law that gave a living child after a “botched” abortion the immediate protection of the state of New York. This new law thus protects the Kermit Gosnells of the world from being prosecuted.
Third, the Act no longer requires a physician’s approval and performance. It now allows other health-care professionals (e.g., nurses, physician assistants) to take on this role.
Cuomo opines: “As a Roman Catholic, I am intimately familiar with the strongly held views of the church. Still, I do not believe that religious values should drive political positions.” Yet it does not require “religious values” to recognize the virtual infanticide involved in taking the life of a viable preborn human child who is guilty of no capital offense. It just requires the most rudimentary of moral compasses.
Robert A. J. Gagnon, Ph.D., is a professor of theology at Houston Baptist University.