Archdiocese shows alternatives to NY’s strong, new pro-choice law

MANHATTAN — New York State now has the country’s strongest laws protecting a woman’s right to choose whether or not to have an abortion.

It’s the result of the reproductive health bill that Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law late last month. On Monday, the Archdiocese of New York, in countering the new law, promoted its programs that help women, it says, in the midst of “a pro-abortion atmosphere.”

The leader of New York’s most prominent women’s rights advocacy group, in turn, said that the new reproductive health law encourages women to get and receive quality health care and other assistance, while ensuring that abortion remains a right that can’t be compromised. Specifically, she said that the national pro-choice provision, protected by the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision, is seriously under threat.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan led a presentation on Monday morning at the convent of the Sisters of Life, an order that focuses on assisting women. The news conference was designed to highlight options that the church provides.

“We were afraid that some women are getting the impression that abortion is the the only choice” they have, Dolan said.

The archdiocese showcased a variety of free and confidential programs it runs to help pregnant women and their children, including Good Counsel Homes, which houses and provides training and job support for expectant women and their children; the Gianna Center for Women's Health, a medical clinic specializing in reproductive and other women’s health issues; and Sisters of Life.

At the presentation, Mother Agnes of the Sisters of Life introduced a woman named Branée and her toddler daughter, Sana, who have been helped by the order of nuns.

“They worked with me,” said Branée, “for the assistance with the job, babysitters, everything.”

Dolan said that the point of his news conference was to send a positive message of help to counter different messaging coming from Albany.

“The almost pro-abortion atmosphere out there,” Dolan said. “we thought it would be good to speak up again.”

Also speaking up, in contrast, was the head of the New York City office of the National Organization for Women, or NOW.

“You may want to talk with your priest, your family, your psychologist about what is happening in your life,” said Sonia Ossorio, president of NOW NYC, about women’s reproductive needs, “but you have to make sure you're seeing a doctor.”

Ossorio’s organization had been one of the strongest supporters of the new reproductive health care law. She said that it isn't meant to promote abortion, but to instead to promote women's general health.

“So that pregnancies that go wrong after 24 weeks,” said Ossorio, are still guaranteed that the mother “has a right to health care.”

Under the new law, after 24 weeks of pregnancy, the decision of aborting a non-viable fetus is left to a woman and her physician. Abortions that late into a pregnancy are extremely rare. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 1.3 percent of abortions take place after 21 weeks. The percentage after 24 weeks is even lower.

Cardinal Dolan acknowledged the new law, and said that it could promote dialogue on women's issues.

Citing conversations he’s had in the past with Hillary Clinton and Andrew Cuomo in which the two politicians “emphasized good will,” Dolan said “this would be a good time” to have a dialogue in women’s rights and health.

NOW’s president agreed, in part. Noting “thirteen pending cases” that could be reviewed by the Supreme Court this term that could possibly overturn Roe v. Wade, she encouraged dialogue now.

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