1/26/2017 9:00:00 AM CATHOLIC CONFERENCE Update on life issues
in New York State
BY KATHLEEN LAMANNA STAFF WRITER
A "consistent ethic of life," for Catholics, means valuing human life from conception until natural death. That means many issues fall under the "pro-life" umbrella.
With the anniversary this month of Roe v. Wade -- the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion on demand in the United States -- pro-life advocates are speculating on whether the transition to a new political administration could mean defunding organizations like Planned Parenthood, or even overturning Roe.
However, the chances of a national change on abortion rights may be slim. "Abortion rights are not going to be rolled back in the state anytime soon," said Kathleen Gallagher, director of pro-life activities for the New York State Catholic Conference.
The push to defund Planned Parenthood was countered by Obama administration and Department of Health and Human Services regulations stating that grants to fund women's health organizations cannot pick and choose which entities receive funding.
Mrs. Gallagher noted that pro-abortion advocates are pushing legislation known as the Reproductive Health Act, which would expand late-term abortion rights in New York State.
In a memorandum of opposition, the Catholic Conference stated that "the legislation would have dangerous consequences for women and infants.
"New York's abortion numbers have been steadily decreasing, from 118,381 reported induced abortions in 2008 to 93,299 reported induced abortions in 2014, according to the most recent report of the NYS Department of Health," the Catholic Conference added. "We believe this misguided legislation would reverse this encouraging trend and only increase the tragedy of abortion."
Physician-assisted suicide is currently illegal in New York State, though it has been brought up several times in the State and Legislature. Advocates of assisted suicide plan to soon introduce a new bill in support of the practice.
"It will be a battle this session," Mrs. Gallagher predicted, but "life is sacred. We have no right to take our own life or the life of someone else."
One pro-life issue that hasn't gotten much press in a decade is the death penalty.
With deep roots in New York State, the death penalty has not been practiced here since 1963. It was officially abolished in 2007, though Gov. George Pataki had previously managed to reinstate it.
Many Catholics take "alternatives to the death penalty" to mean only a life sentence without the possibility of parole, but the Catholic Conference notes that "even life in prison without parole doesn't allow for redemption and rehabilitation."
Mrs. Gallagher explained that "human life has inherent dignity. It's not earned or unearned somewhere along in your life. It's inherent."
Even "someone who has committed horrific crimes," she said, "can still be redeemed and rehabilitated."
(To learn about advocating on issues of concern to Catholics, go to www.nyscatholic.org or call the Catholic Conference at 518-434-6195.)