Published February 6, 2019
George Weigel's weekly column The Catholic Difference
Writing recently on women seeking the presidency and the “likability” factor in our politics, Peggy Noonan made a tart observation: “There are a lot of male candidates with likability problems. Some, such as Andrew Cuomo, a three-term governor of a large state, are so unlikable they aren’t even mentioned as contenders.”
Without contesting Miss Noonan’s point, I’d like to offer an addendum: Andrew Cuomo is too morally depraved to be the President of the United States—or the governor of New York, for that matter.
Of all the obscenities surrounding Governor Cuomo’s January 22 signing of a bill whose title (“The Reproductive Health Act”) would make George Orwell gag, the most cringe-inducing was the signing ceremony itself. You can watch it on YouTube, if you’ve the stomach for it. The ceremony is replete with the self-congratulatory political blather to which many of us have become inured. What is truly sickening is the unholy glee with which Cuomo signed this sordid bill—a demonic mirth shared by the other miscreants on the platform with him.
Just what are these people celebrating?
The New York RHA declares abortion on demand, at any moment in a pregnancy, up to birth, a fundamental right. A healthy infant born in New York State today could have been legally killed yesterday, according to the RHA. And the killing would not be pretty. For third-trimester abortions involve either poisoning the unborn child or collapsing its skull by the grotesque procedure known as “dilation and extraction”; the mother then gives “birth” to a dead baby who’s been executed in a manner that would revolt anyone with an iota of feeling, were similar violence perpetrated on a dog or cat.
I recently met a young man who was born at 24 weeks of gestation, when he weighed a little over a pound. My young friend was considered a child, a living member of the human community, when he spent months in the neo-natal intensive care unit of his local hospital. The New York RHA permits children of the exact same gestational age to be surgically chopped up in the womb (“dilation and curettage”)—and its sponsors imagine this legal license to dismember a helpless human being while inflicting excruciating pain to be a civilizational advance, rather than the reversion to barbarism it is.
The gory-body-parts school of pro-life activism has never appealed to me, because women caught in the dilemma of unplanned pregnancy are looking for friends who will offer them compassion and assistance, not force them to watch the obstetrical equivalent of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre. But the unprecedented nature of the New York RHA demands that Andrew Cuomo & Friends be confronted with the reality of what they wrought and what they celebrate—which is the legal butchery of innocent children.
There are over 3,300 crisis pregnancy centers in the United States. They embody the virtue of solidarity by offering women in crisis the life-affirming care of real medicine, not the death-dealing witchcraft of the abortionist. With humane alternatives readily available, it is ludicrous to claim, as Cuomo & Friends do, that access to abortion up until birth is an imperative of justice. Indeed, any such claim makes a mockery of any rational concept of justice, for the New York RHA legalizes the brutal exercise of raw power over an innocent human life.
Another facet of this awfulness demands attention: Andrew Cuomo, and all pro-“choice” politicians who self-identify as Catholics, bespeak a massive failure of catechesis and Christian formation in the Church in the United States. In the face of that failure, the people of the Church, ordained and lay, are called to a stringent examination of conscience. When bishops fail to declare, in the strongest and clearest terms, that support for immoral bills such as the New York RHA puts the legislator or executive in a gravely impaired position within the communion of the Church, their dereliction of duty compounds that catechetical failure. When lay Catholics dodge the abortion issue in conversation because it’s too uncomfortable or might make them look “conservative” or “anti-feminist,” they betray the gospel and amplify the catechetical failures of the past and present.
Moral depravity stalks the land. Calling it such is deemed “extremist” by United States senators. We all have work to do. And we all must summon the courage to do it.
George Weigel is Distinguished Senior Fellow of Washington, D.C.’s Ethics and Public Policy Center, where he holds the William E. Simon Chair in Catholic Studies.