Originally published January 30, 2018:
Last Tuesday, on the anniversary of the controversial Supreme Court ruling on Roe v. Wade, the New York State Legislature passed the Reproductive Health Act, to cheers from the voting Democrats. This bill, swiftly signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo, drastically changes the abortion laws of the state, removing all restrictions from abortion at any stage of pregnancy, until the moment of birth. Only two Democrats voted against the bill, which was otherwise split along party lines. While the cheering crowd celebrated what they deem a victory for women, what they accomplished in reality was not only immoral, but also anti-science and anti-woman.
The immorality of this law cannot be understated. Even by Democrats’ own standards, this is an immoral act, yet they willfully blind themselves to their own hypocrisy. Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Catholic, replied on Twitter to the news that Pope Francis changed Catholic teaching on the death penalty, now claiming it is never admissible. Cuomo writes, “The death penalty is morally indefensible and has no place in the 21st century. Today, in solidarity with [the Pope] and in honor of my father, I will be advancing legislation to remove the death penalty from State law once and for all.” This tweet comes after Cuomo signed a bill allowing the killing of an unborn child until the moment of birth. Cuomo also ordered that the World Trade Center and the Mario Cuomo Bridge be lit pink in celebration of his signing. “I am directing that New York’s landmarks be lit in pink to celebrate this achievement and shine a bright light forward for the rest of the nation to follow,” Cuomo said in a statement. Andrew Cuomo’s morality is so skewed that he sees killing of the most innocent, the most in need of protection amongst us, as not only a great achievement, but something that should be emulated nationwide, while he looks at the death penalty as “morally indefensible.”
The death penalty, for those who did not know, has been abolished in New York State since 2007, but the last execution in New York State occurred in 1984. Comparatively, between the years 2006 and 2015, there have been 1,119,579 abortions. On average in that same time span, approximately 30 percent of all New York pregnancies (not counting miscarriages) end in abortion. These deaths are an “achievement,” according to Cuomo, but the death of murderers through due process and judgment by peers “has no place in the 21st century.” One does not need to be for or against the death penalty to see the hypocrisy of this position.
Advocates of the new law argue, as abortion advocates across the country have, that abortion is simply a woman’s right to choose. This leads into the anti-science aspect of this law. It is not the woman who pro-lifers are concerned with. It is the human life that is separate from the woman. It is irrefutable that human life begins at conception. If a fertilized egg was found on Mars, the newspaper headlines would scream “Life Found on Mars,” not “Cluster of Cells Found on Mars.” Working backwards, at 23 weeks, the baby can recognize noises outside the womb. At 20 weeks, the baby can swallow and digest. At 19 weeks, senses are developing and the baby can hear sounds or feel pain. At 13 weeks, the baby has distinct fingerprints, and girls have more than two million eggs. At seven weeks, arms and legs are developing. At six weeks, nose, mouth, and ears are developing. At five weeks, the circulatory system is forming, and the heart starts beating. This is human life, with its own DNA.
Even abortion providers agree with this. Faye Wattleton, President of Planned Parenthood from 1978 to 1992, said in a 1997 interview, “I think we have deluded ourselves into believing that people don’t know that abortion is killing. So any pretense that abortion is not killing is a signal of our ambivalence, a signal that we cannot say, ‘Yes, it kills a fetus.’” Ann Furedi, who is the chief executive for BPAS, the largest abortion provider in the United Kingdom, said in 2008, “We can accept that the embryo is a living thing in the fact that it has a beating heart, that it has its own genetic system within it. It’s clearly human in the sense that it’s not a gerbil, and we can recognize that it is human life.” Life beginning at conception is a stipulated fact by a variety of doctors and researchers of the subject at the Mayo Clinic, Harvard Medical School, and many others.
So how is this law anti-science? The text of the law reads, “It is the public policy of New York State that every individual possesses a fundamental right of privacy and equality with respect to their personal reproductive decisions…” Having already established that this human life is scientifically an individual, this law precludes that individual from its fundamental right of privacy and equality by removing the individuality of the unborn. This creates a secondary class of human, which does not receive the rights and protections as the designated primary class of human. This is on the same scientific footing that slaveholders had when arguing with abolitionists. This law goes much further than the standard abortion laws, however. This law also states “a health care practitioner…may perform an abortion when…the abortion is necessary to protect the patient’s life or health.” Even the most pro-life positions grant exceptions for the life of the mother, but the “health” clause is suspect. The law does not define what “health” means. It can mean physical health, spiritual health, emotional health, or even economic health. There is no limitation on scope or timeline. If a mother decides minutes before her baby is born that she does not want it, she can legally kill it. If she decides minutes later and throws the baby in the dumpster and the baby dies, the mother is charged with murder. Defining life this way is anti-science.
This law is also anti-woman on multiple fronts. The first is sex-selective abortions. According to a 2011 Gallup poll, when asked if they could only have one child, what gender would they prefer, respondents replied 40% boy and 28% girl. Additionally, America is made up of many cultures, some of whom prefer male children. United States Census data from 2000 suggests that Chinese, Korean, and Indian immigrant families had much higher than average second and third child birth rates when the first one or two children were girls (showing that they wanted a boy). These data points moved some states, including New York, to put a ban on sex-selective abortions. So far, only Oklahoma and Arizona have been successful in banning sex-selective abortions.
The more galling aspect of this law that is anti-woman are the changes to the penal code. Until this point, if an assault on a 24-week or more pregnant woman led to a miscarriage, the assailant could be charge with a homicide. Homicide was defined as “…conduct which causes the death of a person [or an unborn child with which a female has been pregnant for more than 24 weeks]…” The law changes the definition of a person. “‘Person,’”, says the law, “when referring to the victim of a homicide, means a human being who has been born and is alive.” This new law takes away a woman’s justice for the death of her child, because prosecutors can no longer charge her attacker with homicide. This is an unconscionable decision by the New York State lawmakers to further dehumanize the unborn in an attempt to allow them to be killed without conflict.
Notice that there have not been any religious arguments. While those who are religious tend to be more pro-life, one does not need to be religious to see that this law is immoral, anti-scientific, and anti-woman. Religion correlates with the pro-life position because religion teaches the value of human life combined with the value of delayed gratification. Jewish families spend tens of thousands of dollars per year on education alone, let alone the inflated costs of kosher food, property values of Jewish neighborhoods and shul dues, and many other expenses that are unique. Jews are used to delaying gratification and comfort for something believed to be right. When anonymously polled in 2004, women gave a variety of reasons why they had their abortions. Some 25% said they were not ready, 23% said they could not afford it, 19% said they were done having children. These are purely subjective reasons that nearly every parent could empathize with; however, they are not sufficient to end a human life (and they could also be equally true with a baby post-birth). A society where personal comfort outweighs human life could turn these reasons into legitimate excuses to end said life. Personal comfort does not give license to end life.
Given the direction of the New York State Legislature, a pro-life position is increasingly unpopular. However, as Ben Shapiro recently said at the March for Life, “Righteousness does not have to be popular; it just has to be righteous.” Given the immorality, anti-science, and anti-woman nature of this law, it is decidedly unrighteous.