Albany Bishop Edward Scharfenberger wrote an open letter to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo Saturday just before Cuomo signed the “Reproductive Health Act” into law on Tuesday. The measure, among other things, allows abortion at “any time” to protect “a patient’s life or health” and removes criminal penalties for abortion. The bishop called out Cuomo for his departure from official Catholic teaching and warned of the consequences of such an extreme abortion expansion.
“Although in your recent State of the State address you cited your Catholic faith and said we should 'stand with Pope Francis,' your advocacy of extreme abortion legislation is completely contrary to the teachings of our pope and our Church,” Bishop Scharfenberger began.
“Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion,” according to official Church teaching. “This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law.”
The bishop added that “this legislation threatens to rupture the communion between the Catholic faith and those who support the RHA even while professing to follow the Church, something that troubles me greatly as a pastor.”
He outlined his concerns with the legislation’s immense expansion of abortion access, writing that it goes so far as to remove protections for infants born alive and unborn victims of crime.
“Condoning coerced or involuntary abortions by repealing criminal sanctions even in cases where a perpetrator seeks to make his partner ‘un-pregnant’ through an act of physical violence does not represent any kind of progress in the choice, safety or health of women,” he wrote. “Removing protection for an infant accidentally born alive during an abortion is abject cruelty, something most people of conscience would deem inhumane for even a dog or cat. Finally, allowing late-term abortions is nothing less than a license to kill a pre-born child at will.”
He also wondered about the consequences of such an expansive deregulation of the abortion industry.
“If abortion is deemed a fundamental right in New York State, will the State then still be able to issue licenses to pro-life nurses or physicians?” he wondered. “Will health facilities which do not provide abortions be certified? Will the law allow that even one dollar be given to maternity services without offering women the “choice” of abortion? These are unanswered questions, but I shudder to think of the consequences this law will wreak.”
“You have already uttered harsh threats about the welcome you think pro-lifers are not entitled to in our state,” he noted. “Now you are demonstrating that you mean to write your warning into law. Will being pro-life one day be a hate crime in the State of New York?”
The bishop was referencing remarks Cuomo made in 2014 when he said that “extreme conservatives who are right-to-life…have no place in the state of New York.”
He cautioned Cuomo not to create a “culture of death” in the state.
“Let’s not bequeath to our children a culture of death, but together build a more humane society for the lives of all of our fellow citizens,” he concluded. “Mr. Cuomo, do not build this Death Star.”
The bishop and the Catholic Diocese of Albany mourned the bill’s signing Tuesday.
Pray with us for a conversion of hearts and minds. https://t.co/Y1MxbbIKGE— Bishop Ed (@AlbBishopEd) January 22, 2019
The New York State Catholic Conference issued a statement condemning the bill’s passage and signing as well.
“Many of the state Senators and Assembly Members who voted for this abortion expansion are mothers themselves, who felt their child toss, turn and kick in their womb, and delighted in the progress of their pregnancy,” they wrote. “Many others, as well as our governor, are fathers, who held their partner’s hand as they viewed the ultrasound videos, watched their child squirm and rejoiced at the first sound of a heartbeat. Many of these same officials were themselves born into less-than-perfect conditions – poverty, health problems, disabilities, broken families. All overcame these issues to rise to leadership in our state, because their parents chose life for them.”
“We pray in a special way for the lives that will be lost, and for the women of our state who are made less safe under this law,” they concluded.
In contrast, the state legislature along with the abortion giant Planned Parenthood celebrated the bill’s passage. The city was even lit up to celebrate.
Cuomo says One World Trade Center's 408-foot spire, the Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge, the Kosciuszko Bridge and the Alfred E. Smith Building in Albany will be lit in pink tonight to celebrate passage of Reproductive Health Act https://t.co/TmDEmj18Vy pic.twitter.com/XYdgxPNaoC— Joseph Spector (@GannettAlbany) January 23, 2019