Gov. Cuomo faces backlash from Catholic bishops after signing the abortion bill

Junie Sihlangu
Jan 24, 2019
12:53 P.M.
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On Tuesday, the Reproductive Health Act was passed among a lot of criticism for Catholic Governor Andrew Cuomo. Catholic bishops have spoken against the signing of the abortion bill.


The passing of the bill was called a “sad chapter” by the bishops who feel the new act will “expand abortion under the pretenses of choice and progress.”

The Reproductive Health Act was passed on the anniversary of the Supreme Court decision Roe v Wade. In 1973, the Supreme Court decided that abortion would be legalized in the US.


After a 12-year legislative battle, the New York State Senate voted 38 to 24 to bring the act into law. Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo signed it into law this week.

He called the act "a historic victory for New Yorkers and for our progressive values." Cuomo ordered the 408-foot spire on the One World Trade Center, the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge, the Kosciuszko Bridge, and the Alfred E. Smith Building in Albany to be lit pink in celebration.


The governor said it was to “celebrate this achievement and shine a bright light forward for the rest of the nation to follow.” In 1970, New York became the first state to legalize abortion.

The new bill states that non-doctors are now allowed to conduct abortions. It also adds that the procedure can be done until the mother's due date if the woman's health is endangered or if the fetus is not viable.


The previous law only allowed abortions after 24 weeks of pregnancy if a woman's life was at risk. However, not everyone was pleased with the bill and the New York State Catholic Conference has bashed Cuomo for signing it into power.

On Saturday, Albany Bishop Rev. Edward B. Scharfenberger wrote an open letter in the Evangelist addressing the matter. He said: "Your advocacy of extreme abortion legislation is completely contrary to the teachings of our pope and our Church."


Scharfenberger further noted:

"I shudder to think of the consequences this law will wreak. You have already uttered harsh threats about the welcome you think pro-lifers are not entitled to in our state. Now you are demonstrating that you mean to write your warning into law. Will being pro-life one day be a hate crime in the State of New York?"

The Archbishop of New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan and other Catholic Bishops in the state signed a letter condemning the bill. In part, it said, "our beloved state has become a more dangerous one for women and their unborn babies."


It further reads, "Our governor and legislative leaders hail this new abortion law as progress. This is not progress" and explained that "Progress will be achieved when our laws and our culture once again value and respect each unrepeatable gift of human life, from the first moment of creation to natural death."

In Albany, next to the Executive Mansion where the bill was signed, the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception rang its bells. The ringing was symbolic of the mourning for the unborn lives that would be lost.


Scharfenberger said:

“The teaching and intuition of our common faith readies us to help. It is an essential part of our mission to support the lives of all, especially the voiceless, the most vulnerable and marginalized, as Pope Francis always reminds us to do.”

At the signing of the bill, Cuomo said:

"We should not have a federal government that is trying to roll back women's rights ... This administration (of President Donald Trump) defies American evolution."