Faith leaders and anti-abortion activists spoke out Thursday against state leaders working to pass several bills to protect and expand abortion access in New York on the heels of the leaked U.S. Supreme Court draft decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
State lawmakers are expected to pass several pieces of legislation to expand access and increase public funding for abortions with an anticipated influx of out-of-staters coming to New York for reproductive services if the highest court repeals the 1973 Roe decision to place the onus on state governments.
The Catholic Bishops of New York State called on state officials to work toward policies that would support pregnant women in crisis and steer away from increasing abortions.
“Elected officials constantly fall over themselves in rushing to announce new initiatives to ever expand abortion in order to garner votes," the bishops said in a statement, criticizing Gov. Kathy Hochul's decision to codify a provision in the latest state budget to require all health insurance plans to cover abortion with limited exemptions for religious employers.
"Many political leaders typically cater more to abortion providers and advocates than to women who might well make a different choice, if only they were aware of and had other options," they added.
The state Catholic Bishops released a new statement supporting "a pro-life future in the Empire State" two days after Gov. Hochul announced a $35 million investment of public funds to support abortion providers across New York.
“We will defend that right to have an abortion with the full power of New York state government," Hochul said Tuesday.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany railed against Hochul after her pledge to redirect $35 million to support abortion clinics as a misuse of public resources.
State senators and assemblymembers are also weighing a broad constitutional amendment to enshrine gender and sexual orientation rights in the state constitution. Parts of the Roe v. Wade decision were codified into the state constitution when former Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the Reproductive Health Act in 2019.
"We understand full well that no Supreme Court decision will reduce the availability of abortion in New York," the bishops said. "With that reality as a backdrop, state government has nothing to lose and everything to gain by working toward reducing the rate of abortion. There is common ground to be found, even in a state like New York."
Archbishop of New York Timothy Cardinal Dolan signed the statement together with Bishops Edward B. Scharfenberger, of Albany; Robert J. Brennan, of Brooklyn; Michael W. Fisher, of Buffalo; Terry R. LaValley, of Ogdensburg; Salvatore R. Matano, of Rochester; John O. Barres, of Rockville Centre; and Douglas J. Lucia, of Syracuse; on behalf of all state bishops, including auxiliary and emeritus bishops.
The state Catholic Conference will post statements with hashtags #WeEnvision and #HelpForMoms as part of an ongoing anti-abortion social media campaign in the coming days.
State Catholic Bishops also launched a new pregnancy resources webpage for services for mothers and pregnant women as the national debate continues.
Bishops stressed every religious community, and every Catholic parish, charities program, health facility, school, college or university across New York must unite in the effort to fight expanding abortion.
"Let us work toward making New York a state where even if abortion is not illegal, it will one day be unthinkable," the bishops said.