Recently, a group of women gathered to insist that expanded abortion access be a legislative priority in New York. Why they would feel the need to do so is a good question, one with disturbing overtones.
The state's governor is inexplicably pushing for greater abortion availability in a state where abortion already appears to be quite popular. We used to hear talk of "safe, legal and rare," but now we see numbers that show more than 100,000 abortions in New York each year. And yet advocates of legal abortion are banding together to insist that expanded abortion access remain a part of the governor's "Women's Equality" agenda.
The current proposed legislation has been floating around Albany for years. It's gone nowhere, because New Yorkers know that abortion access isn't a problem in their state. And when they are made aware of the numbers, there's some consensus that they are too high. You'd think we'd take advantage of that opportunity to make some progress. But we have become so accustomed to taking sides or dodging the issue that it has become easy for those with the loudest megaphones to dominate the conversation.
Access has become one of those misleading words like "choice" and "equality," proffered to obscure a radical agenda. But there are people who can help. And whatever our political and moral positions on one procedure or policy or another, we ought to help these people and the choices they represent flourish, instead of pushing them to the margins.
"It is crazy," Theresa Bonopartis, director of Lumina, a post-abortion ministry in the New York metropolitan area, observes about our current conditions. "What we were sold as a bill of goods was the necessity of abortion for the health of women, but this great 'right' has become out of control and more protected than the women it claims to serve."
This debate in New York is happening while the trial of Dr. Kermit Gosnell is beginning just a bit down the northeast corridor in Philadelphia. Gosnell, who ran a profitable abortion operation, is accused of murdering seven newborns and one pregnant woman. The grand jury report sums it up: "This case is about a doctor who killed babies and endangered women." The report detailed gruesome conditions at Gosnell's practice and the horrific butchery he's accused of. It is not, to put it mildly, for the weak of stomach. "Over the years, many people came to know that something was going on here. But no one put a stop to it," the report states.
With that in the background, you'd think we'd be a little more sober and urgent about actually protecting women and considering what we can do for their unborn children.
"War on women" rhetoric shuts progress down. Bonapartis offers: "I think it gets to a dead end because it looks at either the baby or the mother ... we need to address both. Both are loved by God both before and after abortion ... You can be against abortion ... while at the same time offering compassion and help to those suffering."
As commentators continue to voice their hopes that the next pope will follow the doctrines of sexual liberation, I am stuck on a tweet. "Be careful not to make a woman cry, for God counts her tears!" Italian Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi tweeted that Talmudic wisdom as he was leading a retreat during the final days of Pope Benedict's papacy. The next time you hear someone dismiss a pro-life position, be grateful there is someone to count the tears, and following God's lead in trying to wipe them away and prevent more.