April 2, 2013 by SquarePegDem
The Post’s Michael Benjamin expresses concern over a proposed bill on abortion in New York State and calls for public debate over several controversial provisions: http://bit.ly/XneUlI
With the state budget done, Albany will now turn to other issues –with Gov. Cuomo’s push for a new abortion law being one of the top issues. We’re told the proposal is a codification of the US Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that created a constitutional right to abortion. It’s not. The Reproductive Health Act that Cuomo endorsed in his State of the State speech is sponsored by state Sen. Andrea Stewart Cousins (D- Yonkers). The governor, a fan of last-minute deals with little public debate, has been cagey about when and if he’ll advance a different proposal. He’d be wise to –because this bill would take New York far, far beyond Roe. For starters, it would ban the prosecution of criminals who cause the death of an almost-born child. This has absolutely nothing to do with Roe or protecting women; so its inclusion is especially odd –if not wrong. New York’s Penal Law specifically includes in the definition of homicide the death of “an unborn child with which a female has been pregnant for more than 24 weeks.” There’s no doubt that the public supports prosecuting criminals who kill an unborn baby. You need only look at a few real cases to realize that repeal would be a big mistake. Last year, a Buffalo man was charged when he attacked a pregnant woman –punching her and kneeing her in the stomach, causing a miscarriage. Other cases involve criminals who murdered a mother and their soon-to-be born child at the same time: Erin Jade Smith in 2010; Ysemmy Ramos in 2009; Niasha Delain and her 9-month-old unborn child in 2008; Barbara Santos and her 9-month-old unborn son Nathaniel in 2007; the list goes on. Why should these babies and families like these be denied justice? Second, the bill removes age restrictions on abortion –removing parents’ ability to decide whether their children under the age of 16 has access to contraceptives and morning-after abortion pills. Sorry: This decision is between parents and a child, based on circumstances and their own beliefs; it shouldn’t be decided by a bunch of politicians. Nor should third parties, such as the city Education and Health departments, be able to give a 12- or 13-year-old contraceptives or abortion pills behind her parents’ backs. Third, the bill would let non-doctors perform abortions and make medical judgments about when a mother’s life might be in danger. The definition of the “practitioners” who could legally do the operation is broad and ill-undefined –an irresponsible and dangerous provision. Fourth, the bill removes accountability for doctors who perform an illegal procedure that leads to the death of a woman. New York’s current, liberal abortion law still seeks to ensure some accountability, by allowing the prosecution of a doctor who performs an illegal abortion that leads to a woman’s death can be prosecuted. It should be obvious to anyone that doctors shouldn’t perform illegal medical procedures in any circumstance. So why does this bill — under the guise of being pro-women — shield from accountability the doctor who caused a woman’s death? A large segment of the public may support broadly Roe and a woman’s right to choose –but these changes are another matter. A recent Chiaroscuro Foundation poll found that women and independent voters rejected these types of proposals by very wide margins. For example, 82 percent of New Yorkers, including 79 percent of pro-choice New Yorkers,oppose changing the law to prevent prosecution for the homicide of an almost-born baby. And 79 percent of women oppose changing the law so that someone other than a doctor can perform surgical abortions. The bill’s provisions must be publicly aired and debated. The public has a right to know where Gov. Cuomo stands on these important life and death issues.