By Richard Meek

The Catholic Commentator

New York state’s recently adopted legislation allowing abortion up until the time of birth, and a similar proposal in Virginia that went even a step further has sparked outrage from pro-life leaders on the local and nationals levels.

On Jan. 22, the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who is Catholic, signed the state’s newly minted Reproductive Health Act. One of the law’s key components is that it permits abortions with only vague restrictions at any time of a pregnancy, including up to the time of birth.

Also included in the New York law is a provision allowing nurse practitioners and physician assistants to perform abortions.

Meanwhile, Virginia lawmakers are mulling over a similar measure, with one high-ranking state official going so far as to say if a baby is born with special needs, the parents would be provided a brief period to decide their child’s future. During that time the baby would be kept comfortable while his or her life hangs in the balance.

“It’s evil,” Danielle Van Haute, director of the Respect Life Program for the Diocese of Baton Rouge, said of the New York law. “The value of a person’s life is being determined whether or not we want it. When we don’t recognize the dignity of human life, there’s no end to the violence we can do against it.”

During his homily Feb. 3 at St. Joseph Cathedral in Baton Rouge, Bishop Michael G. Duca said the law completely left out the value of life, and when life begins.

“Of course, if you do that, life becomes arbitrary, the value of life becomes arbitrary,” he said.

Bishop Duca added the Bill of Rights guarantees everyone an unalienable right to life, emphasizing that right was given by God and the government’s role is to protect that life.

He said that “we as a country” have decided that when it comes to life in the womb, “we can decide when life begins.”

“We are now becoming the overlords of the value of life and believe me that is very dangerous,” he said. “Would you like the person sitting next to you to decide whether you live or die?”

Fanning the flames was the fact there was a celebration among legislators when Cuomo signed the bill into law, and the 911 memorial in New York City was lit in pink later that night.

“What was ironic was here you have this monument where so many deaths took place and there are a number of women’s names listed followed by the names of their unborn child (on the memorial),” Van Haute said.

She was aware New York lawmakers had been lobbying for years to have the legislation passed but that the New York Conference of Catholic Bishops and pro-life supporters has been feverishly working behind the scenes to block the law. But with the current makeup of the statehouse, abortion supporters believed the time was right to have it passed.

“I think it’s still surprising because of the extreme that it’s going to,” Van Haute said of the action. “And it makes it clear the idea of keeping abortion safe, rare and legal (as was promised in 1973 with Roe v. Wade) has completely gone out the window. That was never really the intent.

“Now we are openly celebrating the right to terminate (a pregnancy) at any point.”

The law states that aborting a late-term pregnancy must be based on the health of the mother, which actually goes back to Dolby v. Bolton, the companion case with Roe v. Wade. But Van Haute said “health of the mother” is defined so leniently that it can mean financial, emotional or physical health.

“For any reason, essentially, abortion is permissible,” she said.

Bishop Duca said the law might have a ripple affect that could ultimately endanger all lives. He said that if “we can determine the value of life (with the law) what gives the government or a nation the right to decide the value any other stage of life.”

“So when someone is getting old and older, and requires more attention, let’s be merciful to them and put them out of their suffering. And make the decision on their value of life,” Bishop Duca added. “It is a dangerous assumption and filtering into everything we do. The (law) has consequences that goes far beyond abortion.”

Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, chairman of the
U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, called the New York law “evil, pure and simple.”

“Abortion has always been built on a lie. Today, the lie is switching from ‘abortion is a choice’ to ‘abortion is health care,’” he said. “It is sickeningly dishonest to claim that women’s lives or health depend on intentionally killing their children,” he said. “This is especially true for late-term abortion, which always involves the purposeful destruction of a child which could have been born alive, with much less risk to the mother, had they both received real health care.”