Only weeks after Kermit Gosnell was charged with the first-degree murder of three infants as the result of late-term abortions, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo introduced the “Women’s Equality Act” into the New York State Legislature that would expand access to late-term abortions on demand.

Specifically, Cuomo proposes adding a new section to New York’s public health law that “protects a woman’s right to obtain an abortion when the fetus is not viable or when necessary to protect a woman’s life or health as determined by a licensed physician” (emphasis added). Current state law prohibits abortion after 24 weeks, except for when the mother’s life is in danger.

As Christians, all of us have the obligation to live as Jesus instructed ... but Catholic politicians have a special opportunity to mirror Jesus in the public square.

As stated by the New York State Catholic Conference: “The governor’s bill would insert a broad health exception, interpreted by the courts not to mean serious physical health impairment, but rather, to include age, economic, social or other emotional factors. It is an exception that will permit unlimited late-term abortion on demand in New York state.”

In a letter of appeal, New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan strongly urged New York Catholics to fight the attempt at abortion expansion in the state.

“In a state where 40 percent of babies are aborted — and, in some areas, 60 percent of babies of Latino or African-American blood — we hardly need to further the abortion license,” he wrote. “Can’t we work together to help pregnant women in trouble with more life-giving alternatives?”

We join our appeal with theirs, and we ask Cuomo and all politicians who identify as Catholic, but who are in favor of expanding access to abortion, to closely examine their hearts and consciences. As Christians, all of us have the obligation to live as Jesus instructed — by caring for and protecting the weakest in our midst. But Catholic politicians have a special opportunity to mirror Jesus in the public square.

In the trial of Gosnell, the judicial system recognized that late-term abortion results in the destruction of viable human life. Not surprisingly, that outcome was all but forgotten once the verdict was handed down.

Pope Francis kisses baby

What’s even more discouraging is that the majority of the Women’s Equality Act consists of components worth advocating for: equal pay for women, assisting victims of domestic violence, strengthening human-trafficking laws. But the broad final plank of the bill that advocates “protecting a women’s freedom of choice” and would provide access to late-term abortion on demand attacks the very core of Catholic teaching on the sanctity of life. Abortion laws are broad enough as they are without expanding them under the guise of equality.

During this Year of Faith, the Vatican has given us a prime opportunity to reflect on and celebrate the Gospel of Life. On June 15-16, the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization celebrated Evangelium Vitae (“The Gospel of Life”), and the faithful joined with Pope Francis in “a communal witness to the sacred value of all life.”

We encourage you to join us in celebrating this special event through July 4 by participating in OSV’s Faithful to Life campaign. Join us as we reread Evangelium Vitae and share its good news with those around us.

As Blessed John Paul II wrote: “The Gospel of God’s love for man, the Gospel of the dignity of the person and the Gospel of life are a single and indivisible Gospel.” All of us, politicians included, must live these values boldly in our everyday lives. 

Editorial Board: Greg Erlandson, publisher; Msgr. Owen F. Campion, associate publisher; Beth McNamara, editorial director; Gretchen R. Crowe, editor; Sarah Hayes, executive editor