New York City, N.Y., USA (Thursday, February 21, 2019, Gaudium Press) After a January law expanded abortion protections in New York, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York City has reaffirmed the Church’s promise to support any pregnant woman, regardless of her circumstances.
“We are enthusiastically committed – and have been for half a century – to providing women with a warm, embracing, life-giving alternative [to abortion],” the cardinal said.
Dolan spoke at a convent of the Sisters of Life in New York City on Feb. 18. Mother Mary Agnes Donovan, the order’s foundress, hosted the press conference, which reiterated Church’s dedication to pregnant women.
Dolan’s announcement followed the signing of a New York’s Reproductive Health Act, which took place on Jan. 22, the anniversary of the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision.
The law limits abortions to the first 24 weeks of pregnancy but allows for abortions to be conducted later in gestation if the wellbeing of the mother is at risk. Some experts say that loophole will allow for practically unrestricted late-term abortion in the state.
The law also decriminalizes the procedure, and strips it of most regulations and safeguards. Non-doctors will now be permitted to perform abortions.
At the meeting on Monday, the cardinal expressed concern that these abortion expansions will influence women to think that abortion is the only viable option to a difficult pregnancy, according to the National Review.
“We’re here. We love you. We welcome you. There is an alternative here,” he said.
Dolan said the Archdiocese of New York offers services to pregnant women confidentially.
“It does not matter what your marital status, religion, or immigration status might be,” he said.
“We are here to help, and all of our services are confidential. Any woman facing a difficult pregnancy and tempted to an abortion is assured of a warm welcome, encouragement, and loving support.”
The press conference included additional speakers like Christopher Bell, co-founder of Good Counsel homes in New York and New Jersey; Mother Donovan, who is also superior general for the Sisters of Life; and Dr. Anne Nolte, who runs the Gianna Center, which provides reproductive health to women.
Brhane Love, a mother and immigrant who struggled with her own pregnancy, also spoke at the event. Love spoke about the pressure she felt to abort. She said the Sisters of Life provided support in immigration, career, babysitting, and housing. She was introduced to the nuns after a man intercepted her on the way to Planned Parenthood.
“He took me to meet the sisters and I talked to them for hours. They told me they were with me, that I wasn’t alone, and that they would help me,” said Love, according to National Review.
“I love my daughter,” she added. “She changed my life. I am so happy.”
The Sisters of Life have helped almost 10,000 women since their religious community was founded in 1991. According to National Review, Mother Agnes said the sisters serve an estimated 600-1000 women a year, noting the number is growing.
As their ministry gain greater publicity, Mother Agnes expressed hope that more women will discover alternative options to abortion like the Sisters of Life provide. She said the sisters are there to work with women, providing encouragement and practical support.
“Standing in radical solidarity with a woman, during an unexpected or difficult pregnancy, the Sisters and the woman together find a pathway through fear, a path defined by realistic and ongoing emotional and practical support that she may respond with courage and dignity to one of life’s most difficult moments.”