Super Tuesday may be exciting for the Democrats, but for Republicans it will be a big yawn. Whether Senator McCain or Governor Romney wins New York no longer matters, since both candidates are pro-life and will subsequently win the conservative base. Senators Clinton and Obama champion a woman's right to choose, and it will be interesting to ask them what they think of Governor Spitzer's proposed legislation to make that choice a civil right. The consequence of that proposal, should it pass, would be devastating to our freedom of religion.
The Spitzer bill S.5829 is euphemistically called the Reproductive Health and Privacy Protection Act. It would raise abortion to the level of a fundamental right, like the freedom of speech, and would therefore prohibit virtually any restrictions at all. According to an urgent "news & action update" released by the New York State Catholic Conference and distributed at all masses last week, the act would force doctors to perform abortions; force Catholic hospitals to perform abortions; force health care insurance plans to cover them; force employers to purchase abortion coverage; authorize non physicians to perform abortions, and undermine parental involvement in the life decisions of their children.
In addition, the Conference warns that the state's civil rights laws protecting doctors and nurses who do not wish to be involved in abortions would be in serious jeopardy. The state's funding to abortion alternative programs and agencies would be required to cover abortions. Many regard this proposed law as ultra radical and beyond the pale, but when it comes to abortion, Mr. Spitzer has consistently been loyal to the abortion advocates who've helped fund his political career.
One of the first actions Mr. Spitzer took after narrowly winning the attorney general race against Dennis Vacco in 1998 was to target the crisis pregnancy clinics that rival abortion providers like Planned Parenthood. In a speech at a NARAL luncheon in January 1999, he announced that he would be establishing a reproductive rights unit within the Bureau of Civil Rights. Ostensibly, the unit was to prevent acts of violence and, Spitzer said, "the murder of doctors who simply seek to fulfill their professional oath." Now I wonder what oath he was talking about, because the classical Hippocratic oath included a commitment not to cause abortions. That oath, of course, has been modified to meet the declining relevance of morality in the practice of modern medicine involving reproductive rights.
The most recent studies have shown that abortion rates are declining, and that should be good news for all except for the billion-dollar abortion industry. If the decline continues these abortion providers may suffer a financial crisis and be unable to fund future political campaigns. Hmmm.
The Catholic Church is not the only entity concerned about the governor's proposal. The Women's Health Collaborative has issued a memorandum of opposition, urging New York constituents to contact their legislators to reject Mr. Spitzer's proposal. Executive director Suzanne Topping submitted this statement: "S 5829 removes all limits and controls, so that instead of abortion being safe and legal, it becomes unsafe – but legal. The Bill as written would move the state of abortion in New York backward." More details on the bill and its ramifications can be found at http://www.womenshealthcollaborative.org.
Most of those with whom I've debated on this issue, including members of my family, tell me that while they are personally opposed to abortion, they feel it is a matter between the woman and her doctor and they have no right to impose their values on others. This argument is valid only if one were discussing something trivial. The Catholic Church and other people of various faiths regard abortion as the murder of an unborn human child. Those who read the bible recall Jeremiah 1:5 "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you. Before you were born I dedicated you a prophet to the nations I appointed you." It is considered a mortal sin for Catholics to have an abortion or to perform one.
Perhaps I cannot convince others that life begins at conception and must be protected. At the very least it has always been accepted until now that I and others have freedom to believe that for myself. What is reprehensible about the law proposed by Mr. Spitzer is that one's religious faith may become subservient to a bogus civil right elevated by a governor beholden to political special interest groups.