Cardinal Dolan Lobbies Gov. Cuomo To Show Restraint On Expansion Of Abortion Rights

ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) Cardinal Timothy Dolan urged Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state lawmakers Monday to reject pending bills to codify abortion rights and open a window for victims of child sex abuse to sue for old incidents.

Joined by other Catholic bishops from around New York, Dolan said they were “bolstered” by Cuomo’s assurances Monday that following last year’s legalization of gay marriage, which they opposed, he’ll protect their religious freedom not to sanction such marriages.

“We were worried that perhaps the law might force us to violate our conscience,” he said.

New York has about 7.3 million Catholics, about 40 percent of the state’s population, said Dennis Poust, spokesman for the New York Catholic Conference.

In retrospect, the bishops would have been “more vigilant” if they had thought there was a distinct possibility that the same-sex marriage bill would pass, Dolan said.

Regarding abortions, Dolan said that rather than expanding that legal right, they want to see more restraint. He said Cuomo listened attentively on that but gave them “no assurances.”

“We feel a high responsibility to speak up for the baby in the womb,” Dolan said, adding their lawyers raise concerns that Catholic hospitals or providers might be forced to participate. In New York City, 40 percent of pregnancies end in abortion, he said, calling that “a tragedy.”

The pending legislation in the Senate and Assembly contains “conscience clauses” saying it will not alter existing protections in state or federal law that permit providers to refuse to provide abortions on moral or religious grounds. Sponsors say the bill establishes the “affirmative” right of an individual to choose or refuse contraception, including abortion of a fetus that can’t survive outside the uterus. That’s basically defined as within 24 weeks of a woman’s last menstrual period.

In her sponsor’s memo, Assembly Member Deborah Glick said New York legalized abortions in 1970, followed by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling three years later, and its scope was clarified in subsequent federal court decisions. New York’s laws have never been updated, and her bill would also remove “unenforceable” provisions in the penal law that criminalize abortions and prohibit the sale of nonprescription contraceptives to minors, the Manhattan Democrat wrote.

Dolan said opening a one-year window for sex abuse suits now barred by a statute of limitation would devastate parish finances for ongoing programs. He didn’t have a cost estimate but said that was the experience in other states that did it.

“The perpetrators don’t suffer. There’s no burden on them. What suffers are the services and the ministries of the apostolates that we’re doing now. Because where does the money come from? So the bishops of 30 years ago that allegedly may have reassigned abusers, they don’t suffer. They’re dead. So the people that suffer are those who are being served right now by the church. We feel that’s a terribly unjust burden.”

After meeting with Republican Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, Dolan said the Long Island Republican indicated he shares their “great reservations” about the abortion rights bill, and also their apprehension about the sex-abuse bill “as a classical violation of American jurisprudence.”

Dolan said Cuomo saw that point in their earlier meeting. “He’s a good lawyer. He reminded us of his allegiance to classical jurisprudence that would see a great benefit to the protection of the statute of limitations to see the innocent are protected and that justice is done,” he said.

The offices of Cuomo and Skelos did not immediately reply to requests for comment Monday.

Assemblywoman Margaret Markey, a Queens Democrat, is chief sponsor of the current bill. She says abuse is an issue across society, and the scandals at Penn State, Syracuse University and other schools undercut the claim her bill is anti-Catholic. She said research shows that 20 percent of children are affected, the trauma is lifelong and for many victims that one-year window is the only way to get justice.

Do you think Cardinal Dolan’s urging will have any affect on the issue of abortion rights in New York? Share your thoughts in the comments section…

(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

  • Rose

    I believe He will have a great impact . God sent Him to us for a reason and He is Highly spirited & a Spirit sent on a mission of Gods Love. We need to all pray , pray , pray & keep praying and doing what the Lord calls us to do to make this right .. God Bless us All & America …

  • Stephanie

    These people need to be more concerned with the unconscionable crimes that go on within their church and not worry about violating the rights of women. There’s a separation of church and state in this great nation for a reason, and this guys antiquated backward views on women and life in general are exactly why!

    This attack on women is getting tired and old. Listen up you old white men, we already fought for equality, can you give us a break?

    • BF

      If you’re so concerned with the right to choose, why then do I have to pay for YOUR choice? I’m NOT for birth control, why then as a taxpayer under Obama’s health care plan do I have to fund YOUR choice? He merely feels the need to voice concerns over the child developing in the womb. You obviously have a voice and express it, as is your right. If you feel your on the moral high ground, why tarnish it by resorting to name-calling? Would you feel differently about what the Church was saying if the hierarchy was made up of primarily young, men of color and NOT “old, white men”? If so, then perhaps you are the one suffering from bias.

      • Paul Hebenr

        Wake up! We all pay for things we don’t agree with. It’s our obligation and it’s the law. Think of all the people paying for YOUR choices!

        • BF

          Whose paying for my choices?

          • Paul Hebenr

            Every taxpayer. (as if you didn’t know)

            • BF

              So these taxpayers are being asked to defy their religious beliefs to fund decisions I make?

              • Paul Hebner

                Not on an individual basis, certainly. That would be silly and would give far too much importance to your choices and their beliefs. We live in a secular society in which religious beliefs are private and not a proper concern of public policy. The point is that there are few, if any, choices you can make that are not, at lease in part publicly funded, either directly or indirectly. So, it is inevitable that some religious beliefs must be set aside in deference to public policy.

                But again, I’m sure I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know.

                • BF

                  Here’s the thing. As it is, women have access to birth control. If they choose to use it, let them pay for it out of their own pocket & not use taxpayer money to fund the cost. The core of your argument seems to be, this is the way it is and just deal with. You said earlier, “It’s our obligation & it’s the law.” The First Amendment States, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof..” This is in the Constitution of the United States, the law of the land. By requiring Catholic institutions to fund birth control or abortion, as part of people’s health care is asking those organizations to defy their fundamental beliefs. If was against bike lanes & I found out the Govt was using tax-payer dollars to install bike lanes, then of course I’d be willing to compromise. But it’s not. The Govt is willfully trying to make people go against their religious beliefs by instituting these laws. Just because it’s a law, doesn’t always mean it’s good, i.e, slavery, segregation were all legal at one point or another in this country.

    • BF
  • Paul Hebner

    Dolan needs to keep his nose out of NY politics. He’s treading heavily upon the separation clause and is coming dangerously close to advocating for a catholic state. His place is in the church and absolutely nowhere outside it.

    • Rose

      That is exactly what a priest is meant to do. The Church is inside and out and all around you . Open your eyes and your heart it goes alot better and a long way . God Speed

  • Amtracmarine

    Just because you smile and are likable Dolan, doesn’t mean that you can get intop politics whenever you like. All women are not Catholics and not all Catholic women think the way you do.

    • BF

      Why NOT? He has a right to vote and let his representatives know what topics are important to him just as you do.

  • Moshe

    Cardinal Dolan was either ineffective fighting against gay marriage or he didn’t really have a problem with it. I’m guessing the latter.

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