It was a hideous image: the top of One World Trade Center — a structure literally built on the ashes of men, women and children killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks — glowing pink in the New York City night sky Jan. 22 as a disturbing symbol of victory following the passage of the state’s abhorrent and profoundly misnamed Reproductive Health Act. The building shone pink along with three other structures, New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo stated proudly, to “celebrate this achievement and shine a bright light forward for the rest of the nation to follow.”
The buildings weren’t the only indications of pro-abortion triumph. Applause and cheers rang out in the New York State Senate chamber as legislators passed the measure, and Gov. Cuomo wore a pink tie to sign it into law. Even the date chosen by lawmakers to vote on the measure was a point of twisted jubilation: Jan. 22 marked the 46th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision. Happy days, indeed.
So what does the so-called Reproductive Health Act allow?
Far from providing real health care to mothers and their children, the Reproductive Health Act, through the hazy language of “at any time when necessary to protect a woman’s life or health,” now enables women to procure abortions up until the moment of birth in New York state. It also permits non-physicians to perform some abortions, and it removes abortion from the state’s criminal code — meaning that any attack on a child within the womb will be considered by law an attack on the mother alone. The unborn child is henceforth inconsequential.
The passage of the Reproductive Health Act also assures that, should Roe v. Wade ever be overturned, abortion “rights” will still be guaranteed in New York. Notably, the state already leads the country in numbers of abortions performed; it truly is the abortion capital of the world.
The law also emboldens other states to adopt similar measures. On that same Jan. 22, newly elected Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker of Illinois signed an executive order that also ensures the state’s abortion laws will remain intact if Roe v. Wade is overturned. It also allows taxpayer funding for abortions. As he signed the order, Pritzker vowed that Illinois “will be the most progressive state in the nation when it comes to guaranteeing women’s reproductive rights” — continuing the celebratory language that, most unfortunately, has now become the norm when it comes to abortion. This is a far cry from the apparent “good old days” when even Bill Clinton campaigned on making abortion “safe, legal and rare.”
This is not to say that there are no signs of hope for the pro-life movement at the state level. The new governor of Ohio, Republican Mike DeWine, has verbally committed to signing the “heartbeat bill” that former Gov. John Kasich vetoed at the end of last year. If made law, this bill would not allow abortions to take place once a baby’s heartbeat has been detected (anywhere from six to 12 weeks after conception). Lawmakers in Iowa, Florida, Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi, Arkansas, Minnesota and Tennessee have introduced similar legislation, though the Iowa measure recently was struck down by a state judge.
As we near the 50-year mark since the passage of Roe v. Wade, the abortion wars sadly show no sign of slowing. But despite the passage of the Reproductive Health Act, neither does the pro-life movement. And those of us in it know that the only thing worth celebrating is when every life is protected, from conception to natural death.
OSV Editorial Board: Gretchen R. Crowe, Scott Richert, York Young