Catholic leaders urge New York lawmakers to reject anti-pregnancy center bill

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A New York State anti-pregnancy center bill passed the state Assembly on July 21 and made its way to the Senate.

If successful, Bill A08212 (the same language as a previous bill, Senate Bill S06311) would authorize the commissioner of health to “conduct a study and issue a report examining the unmet health and resource needs facing pregnant women in New York and the impact of limited service pregnancy centers on the ability of women to obtain accurate, non-coercive health care information and timely access to a comprehensive range and reproductive and sexual health care services.” (emphasis added)

Discriminatory language

In openly labeling pregnancy centers as being of “limited service,” the language of the bill shows discrimination towards pro-life pregnancy centers before the study even begins or a report is even issued. The bill’s authors, Deborah J. Glick and Brad Hoylman, want pregnancy centers—which are mostly private, run by volunteers, and do not receive state or federal funding—to hand over their data and information to the health commissioner. That information would include the “distance to the nearest licensed medical facility,” the “prices charged” (nearly all pregnancy center services are given to women free of charge), and the “race, age and marital status” of the women whom they help, along with seemingly endless additional information about their events and their operational manuals.

“Accurate, non-coercive health care information”

Ironically, the bill attempts to ensure that women who visit pregnancy centers receive “accurate, non-coercive health care information” as well as “timely access to a comprehensive range of reproductive and sexual health care services.” This language insinuates that women are not receiving accurate or non-coercive health information from a charity which 1) makes no money from clients, and 2) actually gives goods and services free of charge to its clients who are seeking information and assistance with their pregnancies. Pregnancy centers tell women about other options besides abortion and help them to access a range of services that allow them the opportunity to choose life — including securing prenatal care, parenting classes, baby gear, maternity items, and even housing. Women may, at any point, choose to freely leave and instead visit an abortion facility.

The language of the bill assumes that abortion businesses are the gold standard, but the truth is, many women have testified that abortion facilities are the ones which did not provide them with accurate information on their full range of pregnancy options, did not provide accurate details about their babies’ development, did not provide accurate information about what the abortion experience would be, and did coerce them into following through with abortions they did not want. Abortion businesses stand to gain financially from selling abortion to women; pregnancy centers give their products and services away for free with no financial incentive.

READ: Planned Parenthood of Greater New York tries to escape ‘racist legacy’ of founder Margaret Sanger

Pushing abortion on the poor

The bill also portrays pregnancy centers as places which “fail to provide” certain options for lower-income women. But what options are those? The bill says, “‘limited services pregnancy center’ means a facility…. that… fails to provide or refer for the full range of comprehensive reproductive and sexual health care services reimbursed under the state’s Medicaid program including… abortion care….” In other words, “limited services” means refusing to push abortion on lower-income women through the Medicaid program that pays for abortions. Is this New York’s attempt to control the population by controlling the birth rates of children considered to be disadvantaged?

New York is the abortion capital

New York State has one the highest abortion rates in the United States and in 2019 passed an extreme abortion law that made abortion legal up until birth. Women clearly do not struggle with a lack of access to abortion in the state, and to imply that pregnancy help centers are somehow blocking their access is ludicrous and confirms discrimination against pro-lifers in the state. Gov. Andrew Cuomo himself once said that pro-lifers are not welcome in New York.

The New York Catholic Conference of Bishops spoke out in opposition to this bill and urged legislators to vote against it. “New York State has one of the highest abortion rates in the nation, and in 2019 expanded its abortion law to make the procedure more widely available and accessible than it previously had been,” they noted in a statement. “A state that prides itself on being ‘pro-choice’ should not be taking legislative action to obstruct the choice of childbirth.”

This is not the first anti-pregnancy center bill to be proposed in New York. In 2018, Glick introduced a similar bill targeting pregnancy centers with sham investigations. And in February, a bill that would force pregnancy centers to immediately tell women they don’t provide abortion was withdrawn from Senate consideration.

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