The Catholic bishop of Albany said that New York’s Reproductive Health Act (RHA) “is nothing less than a license to kill a pre-born child at will” in an open letter this week to Governor Andrew Cuomo.
Calling the legislation the “Death Star,” Albany Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger takes issue with Mr. Cuomo’s choice to parade his Catholicism about in agitating for the RHA, since the Church condemns abortion as the killing of an innocent child and a grave evil.
Your “advocacy of extreme abortion legislation is completely contrary to the teachings of our pope and our Church,” the bishop wrote. “Once truth is separated from fiction and people come to realize the impact of the bill, they will be shocked to their core.”
“By that time, however, it may be too late to save the countless lives that will be lost or spare countless women lifelong regret,” he wrote.
Bishop Scharfenberger enumerates the many ways in which the new legislation eliminates protections for unborn children, giving doctors — and even non-physicians — a virtually limitless license to kill.
The RHA “goes far beyond Roe vs. Wade in its aggressive extremism,” the bishop notes. “Granting non-doctors permission to perform abortions does nothing to advance the security and health of women.”
Moreover, “repealing criminal sanctions even in cases where a perpetrator seeks to make his partner ‘un-pregnant’ through an act of physical violence does not represent any kind of progress in the choice, safety or health of women,” he adds.
“Removing protection for an infant accidentally born alive during an abortion is abject cruelty,” he said, “something most people of conscience would deem inhumane for even a dog or cat.”
“Finally, allowing late-term abortions is nothing less than a license to kill a pre-born child at will,” he said.
Bishop Scharfenberger said he cannot imagine how going from a society working to make abortion “rare” to one that urges women to “shout your abortion” can possibly be viewed as “progress.”
“How is it progress to ignore the harm that this will do, not only to innocent infants, born and unborn, but to their mothers?” he asks.
“Will being pro-life one day be a hate crime in the State of New York?” he adds.
In an appeal that ended up falling on deaf ears, the bishop urged the governor not to build “this Death Star.”
After the passage of the act, many Catholics have been urging the bishops to formally excommunicate Andrew Cuomo from the Catholic Church, given his public flouting of Church teaching on an extremely grave moral issue.
“If Andrew Cuomo remains a ‘Catholic in good standing’ after signing this abortion bill then the Church’s institutional witness to life simply has zero teeth and the US bishops have completely abdicated their responsibilities as shepherd of souls,” tweeted Thomas Peters of Catholic Vote.
While according to the Church’s Canon Law a person “who procures a completed abortion incurs a latae sententiae [automatic] excommunication,” the punishment may also be administered to those who obstinately persist in other extremely grave sins, especially those that give scandal to the faithful.
This legislation “threatens to rupture the communion between the Catholic faith and those who support the RHA even while professing to follow the Church, something that troubles me greatly as a pastor,” Bishop Scharfenberger stated in his letter.
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