Emma Lazarus’ inscription on the Statue of Liberty in the New York Harbor states, “A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame is the imprisoned lightning, and her name Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand glows world-wide welcome….”
New York may be a state that welcomes immigrants, but it has become a more hazardous place for the unborn. The Reproductive Health Act, which became law on January 22, 2019, allows doctors, physician’s assistants and nurse practitioners to abort pregnancies at any stage of development — up to and including the ninth month — if the fetus is deemed to be unviable or the health of the mother is thought to be at risk. Previously, only doctors could perform late-term abortions, and only when the mother’s life was threatened. A similar proposal was recently defeated in the Virginia state legislature.
Nationwide, more than 8,000 late-term abortions are performed each year — ending pregnancies that have already passed the halfway point in which the baby could likely survive outside the womb. The health exception for mother that appears in many laws is notoriously vague and has been used to justify almost any abortion. Very few late-term abortions are performed to save the life of the mother.
The New York law removes abortion entirely from the criminal code, so that abusers will no longer be held accountable when domestic violence causes the death of an unborn child. This may increase the risks faced by women who are in abusive relationships.
Fortunately, the abortion rate in New York is declining, as it is in the United States as a whole. We don’t need to choose death for the baby in order to choose life for the mother. Both mothers and babies are precious to God, and they should be to us as well.