Democrat Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York defended himself against criticism that he rejected his self-proclaimed Catholic faith by signing into law a bill that allows abortion up until birth, asserting, “I was educated in religious schools, and I am a former altar boy.”
In an op-ed in the New York Times, Cuomo insisted, “My Roman Catholic values are my personal values. The decisions I choose to make in my life, or in counseling my daughters, are based on my personal moral and religious beliefs.”
“My oath of office is to the Constitutions of the United States and of the State of New York – not to the Catholic Church,” the governor said.
Cuomo also referred to the Catholic Church as “anti-choice,” and added, “most Americans, including most Catholics, are pro-choice.”
What Cuomo did not note is results of a recent Marist poll released in conjunction with the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic organization, that found 75 percent of Americans want substantial restrictions on abortion, including 60 percent of Democrats and 61 percent of those who identify as “pro-choice.”
“[T]his poll shows that the pro-choice label on the abortion issue is simply insufficient,” said Knights of Columbus CEO Carl Anderson. “The majority of Americans – in both parties – support legal restrictions on abortion. Two-thirds of Americans want Roe revisited to allow for state regulation of abortion or to ban it altogether.”
According to the poll, 75 percent of Americans say abortion should be limited to — at most — the first three months of pregnancy. Among those who identify as Republicans, 92 percent want that restriction, as do 78 percent of independents and 60 percent of Democrats. Perhaps most significantly, that view is shared by 61 percent of those who identify as “pro-choice.”
After Cuomo signed New York’s Reproductive Health Act into law and ordered authorities to illuminate the World Trade Center complex with pink lighting to celebrate abortion as a “fundamental right,” Catholic Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger of Albany referred to the legislation as the “Death Star.”
In an open letter to the governor, Scharfenberger wrote:
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. Once truth is separated from fiction and people come to realize the impact of the bill, they will be shocked to their core. By that time, however, it may be too late to save the countless lives that will be lost or spare countless women lifelong regret.
President Donald Trump said during his State of the Union address Tuesday evening that “all children — born and unborn — are made in the holy image of God.”
Cuomo accused the president of engaging in an “attack on women’s rights” and of “intentionally spreading lies about New York’s Reproductive Health Act.”
The governor dismissed the extremity of his new law, stating, “Third-trimester procedures are extremely rare, making up only about 1 percent of all abortions. The option is available for exactly the reason stated in Roe and successor cases: to protect the life or health of the woman.”
What Cuomo does not spell out is that the “health” exception was left particularly vague. The Supreme Court defined the “health” exception to include any number of factors, such as “physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman’s age.”
The New York State Right to Life Committee noted the new abortion law defines a “person” as a “human being who has been born and is alive” – meaning unborn babies are not “persons” – and further degrades unborn children by removing criminal penalties for violence against them during a homicide.
Lila Rose, the president of pro-life organization Live Action, observed that New York does not allow the death penalty for convicted criminals.
“But now children up until the ninth month of pregnancy can be given lethal injections and poisoned to death,” she said. “This is no different than infanticide.”