I love animals, especially dogs. I cringe when I hear stories of animal abuse, and I think more should be done to crack down on puppy mills that put profit above decent care. Our rescue dog, Molly, was a genuine sweetheart who stole our hearts and ruled our house for more than 15 years.

That said, I don’t think our laws should treat animals better than humans, and I’m noticing a troubling trend in that direction. State lawmakers in Albany have introduced more legislation this year to protect animals than ever before. There is legislation to create new crimes of animal cruelty, neglect and abandonment. There are bills to ban egg-hatching projects in classrooms, and require instruction in the humane treatment of animals. There’s a proposal to create a court-appointed advocate to represent four-legged creatures in court, and another one requiring courts to consider the best interests of animals in divorce cases. There’s a bill to restrict the use of toxic chemicals in pet products, and there’s even legislation to allow sick animals access to medical marijuana. And that’s just a small sampling.

Again, I have nothing against animals. But should state lawmakers really be increasing protections for dogs and cats while decreasing protections for human beings? This year’s expansion of abortion in New York will allow the deaths of viable unborn infants and even helpless babies accidentally born alive during abortion procedures. The cruelty is unmistakable. Do our elected representatives not see this?

How can they fail to see the inconsistency of safeguarding baby chicks who still reside within the egg, while celebrating the removal of protections for infants residing in the womb?

Both houses of the legislature have now passed a bill outlawing the declawing of cats. The Assembly sponsor of the measure called the practice “barbaric and inhumane.” This is an elected official who supports both late-term abortion and doctor-assisted suicide for humans.  

Do any of our legislators see the irony of regulating pet groomers, making sure they’re registered and adhering to basic standards of care, while abortion clinics remain unregulated and uninspected?

How can they support legislation making it a crime to confine a pig during preg­nancy — because “con­finement within crates can cause significant physical and psychological trauma” — yet disregard the very real trauma some women endure following abortion?

Some legislators and the governor are now calling for a law to allow surrogate motherhood for profit, a bill that actually says that a human fetus shall have no rights and “shall not be viewed as a child under the laws of this state.” What shall she be viewed as — a potato, a frog, a plant? I suppose the point is that the child is really a product to be manufactured and sold, not a human being with inherent dignity and value. Perhaps if the baby were viewed as an animal, she might have some rights.

Something is out of whack in a society where animals are afforded more liberties and basic protections than innocent children. Our Church teaches that every human being is made in the image and likeness of God, from the very first moment of creation. Each one is sacred and irreplaceable, deserving of our respect and worthy of the protection of the law.

Lawmakers need to get their priorities straight. And we are the ones who can move them in the right direction.

Kathleen M. Gallagher is the Director of Pro-Life Activities for the New York State Catholic Conference.