A day after the New York state Legislature passed a bill Tuesday that made it legal for abortionists and other health care professionals to perform abortions up to birth for any reason, conservative anti-abortion advocates have ramped up criticism of the measure as liberals defend it.
"They have no idea the damage this will cause," Jim Harden, president of CompassCare Pregnancy Services, told WHAM about the controversial "Reproductive Health Act."
Harden’s organization works with pregnant women considering abortion and encourages them to have their baby by providing them with baseline medical services. It was not immediately clear how the newly passed RHA will directly affect his work.
For 12 years, the RHA had been blocked from passing the Legislature until this week when a Democrat majority in the New York Senate passed it with a 38-28 vote, much to the chagrin of those who oppose it. The RHA codifies federal abortion rights guaranteed under the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision and removes abortion from the state's criminal code.
Some critics of the law argue that it's a much more sinister attack on the unborn and have started a White House petition calling for RHA’s repeal.
“At this point, those who align themselves with the Democrat Party advocate for the murder of children, right up to the very moment before they take their first breath. It's an abomination,” the petition’s creator wrote at the launch of the campaign Wednesday.
Section 2 of New York’s controversial Reproductive Health Act, signed into law by Democrat Gov. Andrew Cuomo, states that “an abortion May be performed by a licensed, certified, or authorized practitioner within 24 weeks from the commencement of pregnancy, or there is an absence of fetal viability, or at any time when necessary to protect a patient's life or health.”
While there have been many on the Left who have argued that the RHA does not allow for aborting pregnancies up to the point of birth for any reason, Lila Rose, president and founder of the national pro-life organization Live Action, argued in a statement Wednesday that the scope of language used in the law opens it up to abortion for any reason.
“Last night, New York passed a law allowing abortions during all nine months of pregnancy, right up until moments before birth. The ‘Reproductive Health Act,’ signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, permits abortions at any point during pregnancy if the abortionist deems it necessary for the mother’s ‘life or health.’ As determined by the U.S. Supreme Court, health not only includes physical health, but encompasses ‘emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman’s age’ considerations, effectively allowing abortion for virtually any reason,” Rose said.
“Convicted criminals aren’t subjected to the death penalty in New York state, but now children up until the ninth month of pregnancy can be given lethal injections and poisoned to death. This is no different than infanticide,” she added.
Liberty Counsel, an international nonprofit, litigation, education, and policy organization dedicated to advancing religious freedom, the sanctity of life, and the family since 1989, agreed with Rose’s interpretation of the RHA.
“Governor Andrew Cuomo immediately signed the ‘Reproductive Health Act’ and then celebrated by lighting the 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 in pink. Ironically, the One World Trade Center was built as a monument to the 3,000 people who died on 9/11. Sitting with Cuomo as he signed the bill was Sarah Ragle Weddington, the lawyer who represented Jane Roe in Roe v. Wade,” a statement from the nonprofit noted.
“I am sickened by the scene of adults celebrating the killing of helpless children,” Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, added. “A child can be tortured and killed seconds before it is born. Instead of lighting up New York with pink, it should have been red for the shedding of innocent blood. I pray that this death agenda will stop soon. Each human life is sacred. The right to life is the right of all rights, and that inalienable right includes the unborn.”
Medical experts, such as Dr. Omar L. Hamada, who is also a theologian, have publicly denounced the RHA, noting that there is no need to legalize abortion beyond 24 weeks.
“I want to clear something up so that there is absolutely no doubt. I’m a Board Certified OB/GYN who has delivered over 2,500 babies. There’s not a single fetal or maternal condition that requires third trimester abortion. Not one. Delivery, yes. Abortion, no. There is absolutely no medical reason to kill a near term or term infant, for any reason,” Hamada wrote in a post on Facebook Wednesday that has since gone viral.
Since going public with his medical opinion, Hamada, who previously spent time living in New York, revealed that he began getting death threats.
“This whole NY abortion thing exploded yesterday, including my post that there is no medical reason for a third trimester abortion. Twitter also exploded as I posted a similar message there. I’ve been getting all sorts of ‘nice’ messages including death threats and threats of physical harm,” he noted in part.
Hamada’s position appears to echo earlier sentiments shared by California obstetrician-gynecologist Dr. Lawrence Koning, who argued in 2016 that there is "no medical" situation that requires aborting a child.
"As an ob/gyn physician for 31 years there is no medical situation that requires aborting / killing the baby in the third trimester to 'save the mother's life,'" Koning reportedly wrote. "Just deliver the baby by c/section and the baby has 95+% survival with readily available NICU care even at 28 weeks. C/section is quicker and safer than partial birth abortion for the mother."
Prior to Tuesday’s passage of the law, local organizations, such as New York State Right to Life Committee, opposed it on several points, including that it would repeal New York’s Penal Law to remove the criminal act of abortion, preventing prosecution of illegal abortions, including those performed by any self-proclaimed provider, or ones resulting from intentional violence committed against a pregnant mother and her child.
“This is the opposite of pro-woman. Abortion is a tragedy, even more so resulting from interpersonal violence. Illegal abortion should remain on the books to allow prosecution in these cases,” the organization noted in a statement shared with CP.
On Tuesday, in a bid to protect pregnant women from violence, state Senator Cathy Young and members of the Senate Republican Conference joined by Livia Abreu, an Army veteran from the Bronx who lost her baby in a vicious domestic violence attack last May, introduced the Liv Act.
Abreu was 26 weeks pregnant when her ex-boyfriend stabbed her six times and caused the loss of her unborn daughter, a release from Young said.
“The Reproductive Health Act is, in my opinion, extreme and filled with gaps. It does not codify Roe v. Wade in the state of New York. In fact, what it does is decriminalize abortion in all aspects, including abortion as a product of an assault on a pregnant female,” Abreu said in a statement ahead of the law’s passage.
“Oscar Alvarez is currently facing abortion charges in the first and second degrees. The passing of RHA will likely exonerate him from those charges. Which will in turn lessen his sentence now that a judge has decided the case is going to trial and the new law will take effect prior to that date. Let that sink in. He will likely be convicted of the crimes he committed against me, but the loss of my daughter will be a non-factor to the law because she wasn’t ‘born and alive,’” Abreu continued.
“…I cannot imagine living in a world where harming and/or killing an unborn child as a product of an attack on a pregnant woman is not a crime. ... A world where mothers have been stripped of and have to bury and mourn their unborn child but the person responsible is not held accountable for it. Read the bill if you haven’t already,” Abreu warned.
New York State Right to Life told CP that the RHA was sold to the public, saying it merely "updates" the law by codifying Roe v. Wade into state law, but that is not true.
“RHA has made abortion a ‘fundamental right’ and prohibits all limits on abortion, which Roe v. Wade did not do,” NYSRL wrote in a statement Wednesday after the RHA became law.
“Roe referred to a trimester view toward protecting life, whereas RHA has expanded abortion-on-demand in New York past 24 weeks — well past when unborn children feel pain, are viable, and suffer during the course of an abortion — and up to birth. This is inhumane.”
Rose agreed in her statement that the RHA is “barbaric and inhumane” because it “rejects modern science.”
“New York’s law is barbaric and inhumane and rejects modern science and medical advancements that reveal the development and humanity of life in the womb. Millions of Americans are waking up to the barbaric reality of abortion and rejecting it,” she said. “A recent Marist poll showed 75 percent of Americans believe abortion should be limited to — at most — the first three months of pregnancy. This includes 61 percent of those who identify as pro-choice, 60 percent of Democrats, and 78 percent of independents.”
Despite protests from interest groups and conservative politicians across the state Thursday, unlike the Catholic Church which has been speaking boldly against the law, very few churches contacted by CP were willing to speak publicly on the matter.
A director at one large umbrella church organization representing hundreds of churches in the state said that the organization would not be issuing any public statement on the matter because the denominations are not all in agreement on issues like abortion and same-sex marriage.