by Allison O’Brien

 Coordinated by the Diocesan Public Policy Advisory Committee, this is the fifth in a series of articles about the five issues that will focus our public policy efforts at the Catholics at the Capitol day on March 19. Each summary summarizes how the issue impacts, specifically, life and ministry in the Diocese of Rockville Centre. To read the issue brief  from the New York State Catholic Conference, click here.


The gift of our faith teaches us that every life is sacred and every life must be respected and protected from the very moment of conception until natural death and we respond to this teaching and call to defend life in many ways. One of these ways is working together, united in the belief and understanding that human life has inestimable value, and with legislators we advocate on laws that support human life and oppose laws that threaten human life .

The 2013-2014 New York State Catholic Conference life issue position calls for continued advocacy to support pregnant women and oppose abortion expansion. When a woman first learns she is “with child,” whether expected or not, her life is forever changed and just beginning in so many, many ways. She is in need of support, care, nurturing, education and much, much more. We ask that you contact your legislator and urge restored funding to the Maternity and Early Childhood Foundation (MECF) which helps low-income single mothers by supporting organizations that provide pre- and post- natal care services across the state. Our Long Island Maternity residences directly benefit from this foundation which has had reduced funding since 2009. Please urge your lawmakers to restore and increase funding for the MECF to a minimum of $600,000.

The Women’s Equality Act has positive agenda items that would benefit and support women, however, contains a dangerous abortion expansion provision. The abortion expansion provision would make New York State a safe haven for late-term abortionists, would imbed a “health” exception in New York law which would ensure abortions are legal through all nine months of pregnancy for any reason and would invite mistreatment and possible harm against women which is contrary to the goals of the Women’s Equality Act.

In light of this understanding, please urge your assembly and senate legislators to vote for and support the nine (non-abortion related) elements in the Women’s Equality Act that would benefit women and please urge them to oppose the abortion expansion provision and reduce the potential harm and disrespect to women.


Instead of expanding abortion and making abortions even more prevalent, we would like to protect both the woman and the child in the womb. In New York, where one in every three pregnancies ends in abortion (and upwards of 6 in 10 in certain communities), it is clear that we as a state have lost sight of that child’s dignity… We call on all pro-life New Yorkers to stand together with us and with all the leadership in Albany who share our conviction that we have no need for such a bill to become law. We need instead to enhance and promote the life and dignity of all human beings from the moment of conception until the moment of natural death.

-New York State Catholic Conference of Bishops, May 2013


Allison O’ Brien is the Director of the Respect Life Office of the Diocese of Rockville Centre and a member of the Diocesan Public Policy Advisory Committee.  She can be reached at


CNS photo/Enrique Cangas