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Will Religious Hospitals Be Forced to Provide Abortions?

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has proposed a "Reproductive Health Act" that is making national headlines. His state already has the highest abortion rate in the nation. His legislation would remove parental-notification laws and informed-consent laws, restrictions on taxpayer funding for abortion, and restrictions on late-term abortions. It would also allow any "licensed health care practitioners" to perform abortions, whether they are doctors or not.

Even more surprising, it contains no conscience protections for religious hospitals. The State Health Department or State Insurance Department could require support for abortion from any institution that receives licensure or funds from the state. What would this mean for Catholic hospitals and other faith-based medical practices?

Americans often think of Europe as more "liberal" in its social policies, but this is not the case with abortion. Ireland permits abortion only when the mother's life is at risk; nearly all European countries permit abortion only in the first trimester unless the health of the mother is threatened. Gov. Cuomo's bill is decidedly more supportive of abortion than most legislation around the globe.

However, his bill is consistent with European trends in one frightening way: the European Court of Human Rights recently required Poland's doctors to perform an abortion or find a physician who would. Will this soon be the case in New York? Will other states follow suit?

Now a group of doctors is protesting the governor's initiative. Helping lead their opposition is Dr. Anne Nolte, a family physician in Manhattan. Responding to the claim that she is leading a "war against women," Dr. Nolte says, "In my family practice over the past seven years, I have asked every woman who has had an abortion if she has experienced any negative effects, physical or emotional. I have been surprised by the number who have had physical complications, as I was taught that these were 'rare.' But besides that, thus far only one woman has said that she did not regret her abortion."

More abortions are performed every year in our country than the total of our war dead across our entire history. Since Roe v. Wade legalized abortion in 1973, we have aborted 25 percent of our population. God's word to Jeremiah is true of us all: "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you" (Jeremiah 1:5). (For more on this subject, see my "A Conversation About Life" on our website.)

What are your thoughts on this divisive issue? How could those of us who support life do more to influence our culture? Abraham Lincoln was right: "Whatever is morally wrong is not politically correct."

Jim Denison, Ph.D., is a subject matter expert on cultural and contemporary issues. He founded the Denison Forum on Truth and Culture, a nonsectarian "think tank" designed to engage contemporary issues with biblical truth in 2009 and is the author of seven books, including Radical Islam: What You Need to Know. For more information on the Denison Forum, visit www.denisonforum.org. To connect with Dr. Denison in social media, visit www.twitter.com/jimdenison or www.facebook.com/denisonforum.

Publication date: February 28, 2013

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