The spin on the women's health issue could give you whiplash. Nationally and in my home state of New York, there's a whole lot of manipulation going on.
The White House continues its unnecessary, perplexing attack on religious liberty in the United States. The administration's latest stance regarding the abortion-drug/contraception health-insurance mandate continues to violate the rights of religious employers who object to contributing to such things. That's why you see not only Catholics but also Protestants, among others, suing the federal government. Contrary to much of the media spin, this debate is not about access but freedom.
During his State of the State address last month, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo unveiled his abortion-expansion agenda with wild cries of "Choice!" His supposed gift to women has non-physicians performing abortions as he moves the industry toward less regulation, including on late-term abortions.
Cheryl Calire, director of pro-life activities for the Catholic Archdiocese of Buffalo and a founder of the St. Gianna Molla Pregnancy Outreach Center there, where she works as a peer counselor, disagrees with the governor.
"We have so many other issues in the state that need attention, that one wonders why so much time and effort is being spent on an issue that would not pass as a stand-alone bill," she tells me.
And Cuomo's agenda is not actually promoting what he claims it is: choice. "In the many conversations I have had with post-abortive women," Calire shares, "they actually felt they had 'no choice,' especially because the man made them feel that since it was legal, it was the course of action that should be followed. The same often is the case for the teen who may not 'choose' to have an abortion, but parents don't want to face the perceived embarrassment that they may face, so make the 'choice' for her."
Choice is so much more than a slogan and so much more liberating than what the governor offers in its name.
In her work at the Gianna center, Calire listens, supports and connects pregnant mothers with support for material, medical and educational needs. This is the hard work of real choice. "Our goal is to empower these women and equip them with the necessary resources available to help them become a good parent and active member of our society," Calire shares. "We have women who stay in touch, finish school, start a new career and come and volunteer," she adds. Calire wants every pregnant woman to know: "There are people who care about you, your unborn child, and are willing to put that into action."
Calire's commitment to pro-life work was stepped up by an unplanned pregnancy close to home. Her 15-year-old son fathered a child with his girlfriend. He wanted to take responsibility for the child he had helped conceive, but his girlfriend's parents had already scheduled an abortion. It was a difficult road, but her grandson is now 6 years old, living with his dad, with visits from his mom. "He is the light in our life," his loving grandmother proclaims.
If Cuomo really wants to give women a choice, he'd support initiatives such as tax credits for couples who adopt and measures similar to the Signs of Hope Act in Louisiana, which ensures women know their options before ending the life of their unborn child. New York City has been described as the abortion capital of the United States, with some 41 percent of pregnancies there ending in abortion. How can there be a need for more?
We are far from the days of safe, legal and rare. New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan recently reflected, "abortion seems to be not the law of the land but the preference of the land." Why else would anyone support Gov. Cuomo's tactics? Let's work on actually helping women, instead of this miserable excuse for a conversation about choice and health.