The Catholic Deformation: New York Governor Cuomo Requires Insurance Companies Provide Free Contraception and Abortion Coverage
By Kevin Burke, LSW
Catholic Governor Andrew Cuomo announced Saturday January 21st 2017 that he was requiring health insurance companies to cover medically necessary abortions and most forms of contraception at no cost to women.
It appears the governor is anticipating the repeal of Obama-Care:
“These regulatory actions will help ensure that whatever happens at the federal level, women in our state will have cost-free access to reproductive health care and we hope these actions serve as a model for equality across the nation…”
Cuomo – Steeped in New York’s Catholic Culture
From the NY Times on Cuomo’s Catholic faith:
“He goes to Mass… He considers himself a practicing Roman Catholic…he supports same-sex marriage and abortion rights…Cuomo was raised in a Queens household where priests and the occasional bishop were guests at dinner. Education meant the neighborhood parochial school, then Archbishop Molloy High School followed by Fordham University.”
How did being steeped in the Catholic culture of New York and his educational formation at Catholic High School and College shape the governors moral and religious perspective and prepare him for a life of public service?
On one hand we see the Governor’s commitment to Catholic social teaching in working to advance the cause of justice reform for minorities. Reflecting this month on the recent Martin Luther King Day Celebrations Governor Cuomo shared the following:
“This weekend, we celebrate the life of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Above all else, King’s crusade was about justice — racial, economic and social justice.”
Yet while he speaks of justice for the poor, the Governor departs from the clear teaching of the Church about the sanctity of life, and supports “abortion rights.”
I wonder what the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr would think of the abortion statistics for African American’s women in the New York City:
“According to a report [by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s Bureau of Vital Statistics] in 2013 black women accounted for 29,007 terminated pregnancies, representing almost 42 percent of all abortions in the city…With abortions surpassing live births by nearly 5,000, African American women in the city clearly terminated pregnancies more often than they carried babies to term.” (From Politifact)
In Catholic Governor Cuomo’s New York City, more African American children die in the wombs of their mothers, than are born.
How Did We Get Here?
There is no doubt that Governor Cuomo received an excellent education that prepared him for a life of public service. Yet there are clearly serious gaps in his moral and spiritual formation that have led him to view his support of abortion rights and same sex marriage as somehow consistent with being a faithful Catholic.
We have to ask honestly, how can a man formed in the Catholic culture of New York, be blind to the horror of the genocide against black children in the womb?
Governor Cuomo would likey respond that the answer to the high abortion rates among minorities – is more contraception. Many of his fellow Catholics would agree.
Yet, contraception is already widely available in NY City, and still the high abortion rates.
Something that Governor Cuomo did not learn in his Catholic formation (or perhaps learned but rejected) is the truth that promoting more sexual promiscuity, contraceptive use and abortion in poor communities will continue to feed the dynamics of dysfunction; fatherless households, drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence and the problems facing schools.
Healing the Shockwaves of Abortion
In the month of January, the Shockwaves of Abortion Initiative focuses on the need for the church to promote awareness and healing in our churches. The initiative provides information and healing resources for clergy/ministers, aids for preaching and how abortion not only hurts the unborn child, but all impacted by the child’s death; parents, grandparents, siblings, other family members and friends who may have served as accomplices in the abortion, and abortion providers.
Shockwaves also considers those like Andrew Cuomo, who by advancing abortion rights in their fields of medicine, business, politics and church ministry, are complicit in the death of unborn children. They too are in need of God’s forgiveness and healing.
We have to ask the Questions
Have we failed as a Church to educate and form our people on the absolute primacy of the abortion issue in her social justice and moral teaching?
Has the scarcity of forceful and persuasive preaching and education in our parishes and some of our institutions of higher learning on abortion loss and the impact of abortion on individuals, families and society – contributed to the rise of Catholic politicians who are complicit in the death of millions of unborn children?
Have we heard enough over the years from our pastors about the necessity of reconciliation and the good news of healing after abortion?
Preaching the Truth with Love
Fr. Pat Scanlan P.P. has been serving in Parish ministry since his ordination in 1977 for the Diocese of Cloyne, Ireland and has been a member of the Rachel’s Vineyard Retreat team (for healing after abortion) in Cork since 2003.
Fr Pat shares an important message to those Catholic clergy and ministers of other faith communities who are reluctant to speak directly on the issue of abortion to their congregations:
“Prior to my involvement in Rachel’s Vineyard I often felt a bit scared at the prospect of preaching about abortion. I was conscious that in any congregation there may be one or more who had experienced the procedure, and I was never sure how to effectively proclaim the truth while at the same time witnessing to compassion.”
Fr Pat shares that God’s people need to hear the truth about abortion, and also the good news of healing for those who have participated in any way in the death of unborn children:
“The truth without compassion is a lethal weapon particularly for wounded souls. Compassion without the truth is a cruel deception. I know from my experience of Rachel’s Vineyard that the Gospel is truly Good News…how the Good Shepherd is waiting to embrace, heal and forgive them. I share in a gentle compassionate way that abortion wounds the lives of not only the unborn child, but of mothers and fathers, grandparents and all involved in the child’s death. I know that if there are women and men present who have had abortion they will identify, and realize that the church wants to help them.”
We each must look at our respective vocations in the Church, and humbly see where we have failed, where we must repent, and with God’s grace, to renew our efforts to end abortion and heal all those hurt by abortion loss.
We hope and pray that more clergy and pastors of all denominations will have the courage to raise awareness and educate their members by directly addressing the horror of the death of unborn children in the womb, and the good news of reconciliation and healing in Christ.