In 2013, Governor Andrew Cuomo tried to give New York women a present. He called it the "Women's Equality Act," a 10-point plan of policies for women that included protections against salary inequities, sexual harassment, discrimination and domestic violence.
But for two long years all of those improvements for women were held hostage to the real prize: an expansion of our state's already liberal abortion laws. The rest was all just packaging, a cynical camouflage to ensure the passage of an abortion agenda. In the end, though, the ploy didn't work. The package was ripped open by the legislature and broken apart into individual bills. Nine of them passed and were signed into law. The 10th bill, the dangerous expansion of abortion, was left untouched by the State Senate, like an unwanted gift under the tree.
This year the governor is trying to re-gift the same unwelcome present. Now it's included in a bigger and better bundle of advances for women, and it's all wrapped up in his proposed state budget. But when you peel off the paper, it's the same radical abortion scheme.
The governor's bill would remove all limits on late-term abortion, empower non-doctors to perform abortions, eliminate defenses for women who are battered or coerced into abortion, and even remove protections for babies who are mistakenly born alive during an abortion. Taken together, these changes would make abortion less safe and less rare.
How is that good for women? Does the governor really think we need more abortion in our state? And why do the so-called "women's groups" think this is progress?
History tells us that women were once treated as non-persons - voiceless, voteless and powerless, oppressed by the strong and the powerful. Treating unborn infants the same way just passes the oppression on down. Women will never achieve genuine equality if it's dependent upon the maltreatment and persecution of another class of human beings.
What of the thousands of women who suffer the pain and devastation that abortion can bring? Is there anything in that bag of women's goodies for them? Something to give them a voice, ease their suffering, end their nightmares? Nope, just more abortion.
I stand in solidarity with the governor on a broad range of women's issues. I deplore the way our sexist culture objectifies women and denies basic human rights. I abhor the economic marginalization of women and the disproportionate way that women and children fall into poverty. I have rallied against human trafficking and advocated for expanded maternity leave and child care.
But I will not stand silent in the face of a misguided and extreme abortion agenda that will invite more late-term abortionists into our state and undermine the health and dignity of women and children. Basic human rights have to be protected for everyone. Female liberation and fetal liberation are ultimately one and the same cause. We must love them both!
Because this has been labeled a "budget" issue, the fate of this legislation (S.7511/A.9511) will likely be decided by the state's fiscal deadline of April 1. Contact your lawmakers and voice your opposition to late-term abortion expansion today. Take action at www.NYSCatholic.org.
Kathleen M. Gallagher is the director of Pro-Life Activities for the New York State Catholic Conference, based in Albany.