New York

Farmworker passage slider

Published on June 19th, 2019


woman harvesting carrots in a field

Following is a statement of
Richard E. Barnes, executive director of the New York State Catholic Conference,
on the passage of the Farmworker Fair Labor Practices Act:

“The Bishops of New York
State are grateful and relieved that after more than two decades of advocacy,
the legislature has passed a version of the Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices
Act. For too long, farmworkers have been treated unjustly under the labor laws
which protect workers in every other area and industry.

“At long last, our state is
saying farmworkers are equal in human dignity to the rest of society. The new
legislation establishes worker protections, including collective bargaining
rights and a 24-hour day of rest every calendar week. It makes the provision of
unemployment insurance law applicable to farm laborers, and provides them with
eligibility for workers compensation benefits, as well as applying the sanitary
code to migrant housing. And while the bill contains some new overtime
provisions, it also establishes a pathway to continued progress on this issue
going forward.

“For the Bishops, this has
always been a matter of justice. Farmworkers never sought special treatment;
they only sought equal treatment. This legislation, while not perfect, makes
remarkable progress and represents a consensus among the farmworkers and the
farmers, on whom we all depend.”

The Catholic Conference represents the NYS Bishops in public policy matters.

Mensaje sobre la aprobación de la Ley de Trabajadores Agrícolas

A continuación, una declaración de Richard E. Barnes, director ejecutivo de la Conferencia Católica del Estado de Nueva York, sobre la aprobación de la Ley de Prácticas Laborales Justas para Trabajadores Agrícolas:

“Los obispos del Estado de Nueva York están agradecidos y aliviados de que, después de más de dos décadas de defensa, la legislatura aprobó una versión de la Ley de Prácticas Laborales Justas para Trabajadores Agrícolas. Durante demasiado tiempo, los trabajadores agrícolas han sido tratados injustamente bajo las leyes laborales que protegen a los trabajadores en cualquier otra área e industria.

“Por fin, nuestro estado está diciendo que los trabajadores agrícolas son iguales en dignidad humana al resto de la sociedad. La nueva legislación establece protecciones para los trabajadores, incluyendo los derechos de negociación colectiva y un día de descanso de 24 horas cada semana del calendario. Hace que la disposición de la ley de seguro de desempleo se aplique a los trabajadores agrícolas, y les otorga la elegibilidad para beneficios de compensación para trabajadores, así como la aplicación del código sanitario a las viviendas para migrantes. Y si bien el proyecto de ley contiene algunas disposiciones nuevas sobre horas extras, también establece un camino para seguir avanzando en este tema en el futuro.

“Para los obispos católicos, esto siempre ha sido una cuestión de justicia. Los trabajadores agrícolas nunca buscaron un tratamiento especial. Sólo buscaban la igualdad de trato. Esta legislación, aunque no es perfecta, hace un progreso notable y representa un consenso entre los trabajadores agrícolas y los agricultores, de quienes todos dependemos”.

La Conferencia Católica representa a los obispos de Nueva York en asuntos de política pública.

Article source: https://www.nyscatholic.org/farmworker-statement/

2019 End-of-Session Round-Up

Published on June 24th, 2019


Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger of Albany watches the Assembly debate on the Farmworker Fair Labor Practices Act from the chamber’s gallery June 19, 2019.
(Franchesca Caputo/The Evangelist)

The New York State Legislature wrapped up the 2019 session in the early morning hours of June 21. The session was among the most active in memory, as the new Democratic majority in the state Senate, joined with the Democratic Assembly majority and the Democratic Governor to take on many issues that had previously been staunchly opposed by Republicans. Below is a synopsis of major issues tracked by the Catholic Conference and their outcome.

Respect for Human Life

Physician-Assisted Suicide: In an important pro-life victory, advocates for the legalization of physician-assisted suicide failed to get a vote on the bill in any committee in either house, despite Gov. Cuomo indicating his support for the first time. The Conference, and our allies in the NY Alliance Against Assisted Suicide, were successful in highlighting the many dangerous consequences of such a policy. Interestingly, both houses passed a number of bills designed to prevent suicide for specific vulnerable populations, such as black and Latina youth, people living in rural areas, veterans, etc.

Reproductive Health Act: Tragically, early in session, the late-term abortion expansion act pushed for several years by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, passed both houses on January 22 and was signed into law the same day, becoming the most permissive abortion law in the country at the time. More than 20,000 New Yorkers have signed a petition to repeal the law.

Pro-Life Pregnancy Centers: Several bills that threatened the free speech rights of pro-life pregnancy centers advanced out of committees this session, but ultimately did not receive a floor vote in either house.

Dignity of Women and Children

Commercial Gestational Surrogacy: A repeal of New York’s ban on paid surrogacy passed the state Senate, but failed to get a vote in the Assembly. The Conference, as well as many feminist organizations, expressed grave concerns that the legislation would exploit women’s bodies and commodify children. In announcing that the Assembly would not vote on the measure, Speaker Carl Heastie said a majority of the Democratic women in the Assembly expressed concerns about the potential exploitation of women.

Legalization of Prostitution: A bill that would completely decriminalize “sex work” was introduced late in session in both houses. The Conference strongly opposes this bill, which would dehumanize and exploit women and legitimize the work of pimps and human traffickers. Feminist groups also expressed serious concerns. No action was taken on the bill, but supporters of the legislation have vowed to continue to build momentum to make New York the first state to completely legalize prostitution statewide.

Support for Immigrants and Marginalized

DREAM Act: The Catholic Conference has long supported this legislation to enable undocumented people who were brought to America as children and have been productive, law-abiding members of society, to access certain state financial aid to enable them to attend college. Early in the legislative session, the legislature passed the bill and the governor signed it into law.

Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act: Just before the end of session, the legislature passed a bill long supported by the Catholic Conference to guarantee to farmworkers many of the rights enjoyed by every other sector of the workforce, including the right to collectively bargain, workers compensation and unemployment insurance, a day of rest every week, housing that conforms to the sanitary code, and overtime pay after 60 hours.

Education

Substantial Equivalency Guidelines: Late last year, the state Department of Education (SED) issued “guidelines” requiring public school districts to make site visits to most religious and independent schools to determine if their instruction was substantially equivalent to that of public schools, as is required by state law. Rather than address specific concerns that have been raised about a limited number of non-Catholic religious schools that might be shown to have deficiencies, SED chose to require all religious and independent schools to be evaluated by public schools on an on-going basis, putting public schools in a position to determine whether religious and independent schools in their districts could continue to operate. The Catholic school superintendents are happy to demonstrate the academic rigor of our schools as being equivalent or superior to public schools, but believe putting this task on our competitors is inappropriate and unnecessary. Lawsuits filed by Catholic, Jewish, and other schools were successful in having the guidelines thrown out, but now SED has introduced essentially the same rules in the form of regulations, which are currently in a public comment period. The Conference is working with the Board of Regents and is also pursuing a long-term legislative solution to the matter.

Child Protection

Child Victim’s Act: This act passed the legislature in late January and was signed by the governor. It extends the civil statute of limitations for child sexual abuse to the victim’s age 55, and the criminal statute of limitations to the victim’s age 28. Further, it creates a one-year “window” where survivors can bring claims for old time-barred cases no matter how long ago. The Conference, which had long opposed the bill, removed opposition when legislators amended it to include survivors of abuse in public institutions. Previously, as we pointed out for many years, public schools and municipalities were shielded from the retroactive window due to a loophole in existing law. The Conference called on the legislature to completely eliminate the criminal statute of limitations and provide an opportunity for mediation to those who preferred it over litigation. The sponsors declined at the time, but legislation was taken up later in session to significantly extend criminal statutes of limitations for many sex crimes, including against minors.

Erin’s Law: On the last night of the legislative session, New York became the 37th state to pass Erin’s Law, which mandates age-appropriate curricula in grades K-8, which helps children, school staff and parents to spot grooming and other behaviors that may lead to abuse, and educates them on how to avoid and report abuse or potential abuse. The Catholic Conference strongly supported this legislation.

Background Check Fee Increase: Hidden away in state budget, which passed earlier this session, was an increase in the state fee for employee criminal background checks, bringing the total cost from $65 per employee to $95. The state should be promoting policies to encourage more businesses and not-for-profits to perform background checks. This will have the opposite effect, potentially at the expense of children. The Catholic Conference asks the state to revisit this issue in the next session and to pass legislation to reimburse not-for-profits for criminal background checks aimed at preventing child sexual abuse and other crimes.

Other

Marijuana Legalization: Gov. Cuomo came out strongly in favor of legalization of recreational marijuana this session, after years of holding the opposite viewpoint. The Catholic Conference released a statement in March opposing legalization. Fortunately, the measure was not passed this session. The legislature did, however, pass legislation effectively decriminalizing possession and expunging criminal records for low-level marijuana convictions. 

Article source: https://www.nyscatholic.org/2019-end-of-session-round-up%EF%BB%BF/

Statement on Farmworker Fair Labor Practices Act

Published on June 19th, 2019


woman harvesting carrots in a field

Following is a statement of
Richard E. Barnes, executive director of the New York State Catholic Conference,
on the passage of the Farmworker Fair Labor Practices Act:

“The Bishops of New York
State are grateful and relieved that after more than two decades of advocacy,
the legislature has passed a version of the Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices
Act. For too long, farmworkers have been treated unjustly under the labor laws
which protect workers in every other area and industry.

“At long last, our state is
saying farmworkers are equal in human dignity to the rest of society. The new
legislation establishes worker protections, including collective bargaining
rights and a 24-hour day of rest every calendar week. It makes the provision of
unemployment insurance law applicable to farm laborers, and provides them with
eligibility for workers compensation benefits, as well as applying the sanitary
code to migrant housing. And while the bill contains some new overtime
provisions, it also establishes a pathway to continued progress on this issue
going forward.

“For the Bishops, this has
always been a matter of justice. Farmworkers never sought special treatment;
they only sought equal treatment. This legislation, while not perfect, makes
remarkable progress and represents a consensus among the farmworkers and the
farmers, on whom we all depend.”

The Catholic Conference represents the NYS Bishops in public policy matters.

Mensaje sobre la aprobación de la Ley de Trabajadores Agrícolas

A continuación, una declaración de Richard E. Barnes, director ejecutivo de la Conferencia Católica del Estado de Nueva York, sobre la aprobación de la Ley de Prácticas Laborales Justas para Trabajadores Agrícolas:

“Los obispos del Estado de Nueva York están agradecidos y aliviados de que, después de más de dos décadas de defensa, la legislatura aprobó una versión de la Ley de Prácticas Laborales Justas para Trabajadores Agrícolas. Durante demasiado tiempo, los trabajadores agrícolas han sido tratados injustamente bajo las leyes laborales que protegen a los trabajadores en cualquier otra área e industria.

“Por fin, nuestro estado está diciendo que los trabajadores agrícolas son iguales en dignidad humana al resto de la sociedad. La nueva legislación establece protecciones para los trabajadores, incluyendo los derechos de negociación colectiva y un día de descanso de 24 horas cada semana del calendario. Hace que la disposición de la ley de seguro de desempleo se aplique a los trabajadores agrícolas, y les otorga la elegibilidad para beneficios de compensación para trabajadores, así como la aplicación del código sanitario a las viviendas para migrantes. Y si bien el proyecto de ley contiene algunas disposiciones nuevas sobre horas extras, también establece un camino para seguir avanzando en este tema en el futuro.

“Para los obispos católicos, esto siempre ha sido una cuestión de justicia. Los trabajadores agrícolas nunca buscaron un tratamiento especial. Sólo buscaban la igualdad de trato. Esta legislación, aunque no es perfecta, hace un progreso notable y representa un consenso entre los trabajadores agrícolas y los agricultores, de quienes todos dependemos”.

La Conferencia Católica representa a los obispos de Nueva York en asuntos de política pública.

Article source: https://www.nyscatholic.org/farmworker-statement/

Erin’s Law

Published on June 17th, 2019

Memorandum of Support

A.2577-B Dinowitz / S.4070-B Biaggi
In Relation to Erin’s Law

The
above-referenced legislation, known as Erin’s Law, would require the
instruction of curriculum on the prevention of child sexual exploitation and
abuse in grades kindergarten through eight. The New York State Catholic
Conference strongly supports this legislation.

Sexual
exploitation and abuse of children is a societal scourge. Victim-survivors face
a lifetime of negative consequences, including depression, post-traumatic
stress disorder, substance abuse, difficulty maintaining relationships and
employment, and more. In recent decades, our nation has come to a greater
understanding of the impacts of such trauma on young lives, and we have also
come to recognize that abuse is much more likely to occur at the hands of a
trusted adult – family member, friend, teacher, coach, clergy member – than a
stranger.

This
legislation amends the Education Law by adding a new section to 803-b to
provide courses of study that gives children in grades K-8, as well as parents
and school staff, the tools they need to better recognize and report grooming
and other inappropriate behavior before it becomes full-fledged abuse.

Since
the clergy sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church exploded in 2001,
Catholic dioceses across the country have instituted Safe Environment programs
that include as an essential component similar age-appropriate instruction of
children in our schools and faith formation programs, and training for all
staff and volunteers who have access to children in any Church ministry. These
programs have proven to be effective, and we support the goals of Erin’s Law to
require such instruction in all of our state’s schools, whether public,
religious or independent.

When
even one child suffers abuse, it is too many. We must not wait in enacting this
common-sense legislation, which is already law in some 35 other states. We urge
its passage before the legislature adjourns.

Article source: https://www.nyscatholic.org/erins-law/

Sale of Cemetery Monuments

Published on June 14th, 2019

Memorandum of Opposition

 Re: S.4610 Savino / A.7350 Woerner
In relation to the sale of monuments by religious cemeteries 

The above-referenced bill applies to cemeteries organized and operated under the Religious Corporations Law and would prohibit those cemeteries from selling monuments and memorials. The Catholic Conference continues to object to governmental encroachment on the operation of Church-affiliated cemeteries. These cemeteries perform burial services according to the rites and rituals of the Church and, as such, are and should remain outside the purview of governmental intrusion. 

The New York State Catholic Conference opposes this legislation. 

It is vital for financial stability to allow religious cemeteries to supplement and diversify their revenue sources to ensure perpetual care, maintenance and stability of the cemetery. 

Cemeteries across New York are constantly losing income as the sale of gravesites and interments declines. Unlike non-sectarian cemeteries, Catholic cemeteries must meet their financial obligations, as they are never turned over to the State or local municipality if they fail. Importantly, Catholic cemeteries are responsible for maintaining not only the graves but all memorials and materials that are placed in the cemetery forever. 

Since 2017, New York State has ensured a level playing field for all monument sellers, by exempting the sale of monuments from all sales and use taxes. This exemption was continued this year in Part FFF of the Laws of 2019, Chapter 59. Yet now, having gained the continuation of the sales tax exemptions, the for-profit monument dealers are attempting to drive out all competition. 

Our religious cemeteries face the same dilemma that the not-for-profit cemeteries are facing. We need to find additional revenue streams in order to ensure that our cemeteries will be maintained for perpetuity, as we can think of no other “business” that has a single source of income, a limited “customer base” and yet is expected to maintain itself forever. Cemeteries across the state need additional resources to prevent them from falling into disrepair and abandonment. 

Memorial products have been delivered to our cemeteries for centuries. Dealers that have provided those memorials have come and gone; however, those memorials have remained on our properties. When monuments have become vandalized, unsightly, or toppled, the cemeteries are the ones who rectify them. The cemetery must expend funds to repair such misfortune and it makes strong sense that cemeteries be able to offer the memorials for which they will have perpetual responsibility. 

Finally, excluding cemeteries from the sale of monuments hurts the consumer. Permitting cemeteries to sell monuments increases choices and lowers prices for consumers. By limiting the choices that consumers have, you run the risk of significantly higher prices being charged for cemetery and funeral merchandise. 

For these reasons, the New York State Catholic Conference opposes this legislation and urges its defeat. 

Article source: https://www.nyscatholic.org/sale-of-cemetery-monuments/

Diaper allowance

Published on June 7th, 2019

Memorandum of Support

 Re: A.2567-B Solages / S.1086-B Persaud
In relation to allowances for the costs of diapers 

The above-reference bill would amend the Social Services Law to provide eligible parents with an allowance for the purchase of diapers for their infants and toddlers. The New York State Catholic Conference supports this legislation and urges its approval before the close of the 2019 legislative session. 

Very often, young parents who are receiving public assistance benefits struggle economically to provide the basic necessities for their children, including housing, clothing, proper nutrition and medicines. They are forced to make difficult decisions to ensure the physical, emotional and moral well-being of their families. 

This legislation will provide such parents with an allowance for the cost of diapers for children two years of age and younger, not to exceed $80 every three months. Diapers are an absolute necessity, and such an allowance will help to lessen the worries and ease the burdens these families face. 

The New York State Catholic Conference supports policies and programs that address the underlying issues often faced by low-income women planning their families and any woman confronted with an unplanned pregnancy: poverty, isolation, unemployment, lack of health care, profound suffering and despair. We believe that women must be empowered with the programs, services and support which address these problems, to ensure that they can carry their baby to term and raise their families with dignity. 

For these reasons, we support this legislative proposal and urge that it be swiftly approved. 

Article source: https://www.nyscatholic.org/diaper-allowance/

Statement on Appointment of Bishop-Elect Douglas Lucia to the Diocese of Syracuse

Published on June 4th, 2019

Following is a statement of
Richard E. Barnes, executive director of the New York State Catholic Conference,
on Pope Francis’ selection of Bishop-elect Douglas J. Lucia as the 11th
Bishop of the Diocese of Syracuse, succeeding Bishop Robert J. Cunningham:

“On behalf of the Catholic
Conference staff, I congratulate Bishop-elect Lucia. We are so grateful to our
Holy Father for this inspired appointment to the Diocese of Syracuse.
Bishop-elect Lucia has been a beloved priest in the Diocese of Ogdensburg, and
has had occasion to work at times with members of the Conference staff in a
variety of capacities. His intellect, kindness and warmth have always made an
impression, and all of us are looking to forward to getting to know him better
and to work more directly with him as he joins the ranks of the New York State
episcopacy.

“As we celebrate Bishop-elect
Lucia’s new role, we give thanks to God for the ministry of Bishop Cunningham,
who has faithfully served four upstate dioceses, including the last 10 years as
Bishop of Syracuse. I trust he knows the great affection and respect I and the
staff have for him, and we wish him many happy years of retirement from full-time
ministry.”

The Catholic Conference
represents the NYS Bishops in public policy matters.

Article source: https://www.nyscatholic.org/statement-on-appointment-of-bishop-elect-douglas-lucia-to-the-diocese-of-syracuse/

Transporting children with special education needs

Published on June 4th, 2019

Memorandum of Support

 Re: A.1686 Pheffer Amato / S.4168 Addabbo
In relation to providing transportation for children with handicapping conditions 

The above-referenced legislation amends paragraph d of subdivision 4 of section 4402 of the Education Law to clarify that transportation up to 50 miles is to be provided for children with special education needs based on the program / services / setting available to such children at the private school they attend as opposed to the more limited range of services and/or inappropriate program or setting that would otherwise be provided them. 

The New York State Catholic Conference supports this legislation. 

New York State has a long and distinguished history of caring for and attending to children with special education needs. For decades, the state has required school districts to provide transportation up to 50 miles for such students attending private schools (well beyond the regular 15-mile limit) to ensure that they have access to the school that best meets their particular needs. In some cases however, transportation services are being denied based on a subjective determination by the school district that the program / services being provided are dissimilar to those recommended by the Committee on Special Education. 

While no parent would elect to have their child transported any longer than necessary, no family should be denied access to the school with the program, services and setting that are required to best meet the particular needs of their child. 

For the above reasons, we urge enactment of this bill. 

Article source: https://www.nyscatholic.org/transporting-children-with-special-education-needs/

Real Property Tax Exemption

Published on May 23rd, 2019

Memorandum of Opposition

Re: S.1662-A Skoufis / A.3692-A, Gunther
In relation to Real Property Tax Exemption 

The above-referenced bill seeks to impose a seven-year deadline on the time in which a non-profit organization in the mandatory exempt class (religious, charitable, hospital, educational or moral or mental improvement of men, women or children) must build or make improvements on acquired property in order to retain the property tax exemption on that land.

The Catholic Conference opposes this legislation 

Placing an arbitrary time limit in which a non-profit organization must construct a building or make other physical improvements on subject property does not account for the economic realities of the nonprofit realm. Organizations must rely on fundraising and grants for funding, and often prioritize expenditures for the services provided to the poor and vulnerable populations they serve above their own building projects. The existing law has a “good faith” standard in place governing this matter. The arbitrary deadline proposed by this legislation might well jeopardize the good and difficult work of innumerable organizations that faithfully serve the people of New York State. 

Further, we note the recent amendment to this legislation intended to exempt real property used for the purpose of a children’s overnight camp or summer day camp. While we support the intention of this amendment, we believe it clearly demonstrates the recognition by sponsors of the legitimate exempt purpose of undeveloped land. We are concerned that local tax assessors will use the provisions of this bill to aggressively push nonprofit property onto the local tax rolls despite the legitimacy of the nonprofit purpose of the usage. 

The Introducer’s Memorandum cites the example of a non-profit charitable organization removing property from the tax roll by purchasing land as an investment vehicle. We believe the current law’s “good faith” standard is an adequate remedy to allow assessors to challenge singular events such as this without causing upheaval in the nonprofit community. 

Article source: https://www.nyscatholic.org/real-property-tax-exemption/

Health Care Decision Making

Published on May 20th, 2019

Memorandum of Opposition

 Re: S.5939 Rivera / A.730 Rosenthal
In relation to health care decision-making 

The above-referenced bill would remove an important safeguard currently in the Public Health Law that sets a reasonable and prudent standard that physicians and hospitals must observe when making decisions for individuals who lack capacity. This bill proposes to lower a decision-making standard currently found in our state’s Health Care Proxy Law (Article 29-C Public Health Law). 

Under current law, the reasonably known wishes of the patient must be ascertained prior to an agent making decisions regarding medically-assisted nutrition and hydration. This bill would repeal this standard and allow for the ‘substituted judgment’ of the health care agent, effectively stripping the patient of the ability to have their medical decisions respected by giving the power to make those decisions to a third-party surrogate. Removing this protection will prove most detrimental to the powerless, isolated, vulnerable incapacitated population. 

Instead of bringing the decision-making standard of the Family Health Care Decisions Act of 2010 up to match the standard found in the Health Care Proxy Law, this bill lowers the standard in the proxy law, which we believe will negatively impact many patients’ ability to receive life-sustaining medically-assisted nutrition and hydration, which provides ordinary nourishment. 

The New York State Catholic Conference has for many years been actively engaged on the issue of health care decision-making and has long advocated for respect for each and every human life, including those who are disabled, vulnerable and incapacitated. To ensure appropriate legal protection for all persons who are unable to make their own healthcare decisions, particularly regarding life-or-death medical decisions, we strongly oppose this legislation and urge that it be defeated. 

Article source: https://www.nyscatholic.org/health-care-decision-making/

Statement on “Born Alive” Hostile Amendment in State Senate

Published on May 16th, 2019

During the State Senate session May 13, Senator Pamela Helming (R-Geneva) introduced a hostile amendment to restore legal protections to born-alive abortion survivors. Sadly, the amendment was defeated in a show-of-hands vote along party lines. The amendment attempted to rectify a portion of the radical “Reproductive Health Act” passed in January, which removed such protections for fully-formed babies in the womb and infants who survive late-term abortion. 

The scale of New York’s abortion expansion shocked the country and began a national conversation about the horror of infanticide and the extreme agenda of the pro-abortion movement. Yet a motion to correct this heinous overreach and to restore protections to born children went down to defeat when the Democratic majority was presented with an opportunity to rectify this portion of the law.

It defies common sense and public opinion. We continue to pray for a change of heart among elected officials who support such a radical assault on the sacredness and dignity of human life.

Article source: https://www.nyscatholic.org/statement-on-born-alive-hostile-amendment-in-state-senate/

Catholic Charities official testifies at farmworker hearing

Published on May 6th, 2019

Shannon Kelly, chief operating officer of Catholic Charities of Orange, Sullivan, and Ulster testified in support of the Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act on May 2 at a legislative hearing held in Loch Sheldrake in Sullivan County. The hearing was one of three regional hearings being held around the state on the controversial legislation, the others being on Long Island and in Western New York. The NYS Catholic Conference has supported the farmworker rights bill through its more than two decades of consideration by the state legislature.

“We must ensure that farmworkers are treated humanely and with dignity, in the same way we work to ensure other workers of our state are treated,” Kelly said. “This is not about putting farmworkers ahead of farms. You can’t support the farmworkers without supporting the farms, and vice versa. Both depend on and need the other.”

Farmworkers were excluded from basic labor protections granted other professions under the federal New Deal-era Fair Labor Standards Practices Act. This legislation would grant New York State farmwokers such rights as a day of rest each week, overtime pay, workers compensation insurance, sanitary housing conditions, and collective bargaining rights. The bill is opposed by the NYS Farm Bureau, which argues that the economic impact on farmers would be too great.

Read the full testimony.

Article source: https://www.nyscatholic.org/catholic-charities-official-testifies-at-farmworker-hearing/

Farmworker Fair Labor Practices Act Testimony

Published on May 3rd, 2019

Testimony on the Farmworker Fair Labor Practices Act at a regional Joint Hearing of the NYS Senate Standing Committee on Agriculture and Senate Standing Committee on Labor

Presented by Shannon Kelly, Chief Operating Officer, Catholic Charities of Orange, Sullivan, and Ulster

Seelig Theatre at SUNY Sullivan, 112 College Road, Loch Sheldrake, NY

May 2, 2019

Good evening, and thank you for the opportunity to testify
on this important legislative issue facing our state. My name is Shannon Kelly.
I am the Chief Operating Officer of Catholic Charities of Orange, Sullivan, and
Ulster. As one of the human services agencies of Catholic Charities of the
Archdiocese of New York, our organization is committed to building a
compassionate and just society. Catholic Charities of Orange, Sullivan, and
Ulster serves the homeless, the hungry, those with emotional or physical
disabilities, as well as immigrants, the marginalized and the vulnerable of this
tri-county region. Last year, we served more than 42,000 individuals and
families, regardless of race, religion, or ability to pay.

I speak today on behalf of our regional agency, as well as
for Catholic Charities agencies across New York State, and in solidarity with
the New York State Catholic Conference, which represents the Catholic Bishops
of New York State. Catholic Charities and the Catholic Conference have been
advocating for passage of the Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act for more
than two decades. At the same time, the Church has been working on the ground
to meet the spiritual and material needs of farmworkers and their families –
through Catholic Charities, Catholic parishes, and individual clergy, religious
and lay people.

It is through this lens that I deliver my remarks today. Let
me begin by making one thing clear: Support for basic rights for farmworkers is
not anti-farmer. At least it need not
be. Our organization serves farm families and farmworkers alike. We are in this
community and are well aware of the unique nature of farming and the challenges
facing farmers, from uncontrollable weather factors, to the pressures of modern
economies, to injuries, the high cost of maintenance, distribution of a
perishable product and competition from foreign markets. We need our family
farms, for our local economy and for our very subsistence.

But at the same time, just as farming has evolved
technologically, it must also evolve to a 21st century understanding
of fair working conditions for farmworkers. We must ensure that farmworkers are
treated humanely and with dignity, in the same way we work to ensure other
workers of our state are treated. This is not about putting farmworkers ahead
of farms. You can’t support the farmworkers without supporting the farms, and
vice versa. Both depend on and need the other.

Justice and human dignity demand, however, that changes come
to the industry in terms of how workers are treated. It is important to
remember that farmworkers do not seek special rights; they seek only the same
rights guaranteed to other workers in every other sector – the right to
overtime pay, the right to a day of rest every week, the right to workers
compensation, the right to sanitary housing conditions, and the right to
collectively bargain.

We hear and appreciate the concerns of those who argue that
providing fair treatment to this population will raise prices for consumers,
but we can truly make the same case about any other sector of the workforce,
and we do not allow that to stop us from doing what is right.

If New York is truly the progressive state that we say we
are, how do we justify this continued unfair playing field? We can’t. We are
faced now with an opportunity. We must grab that chance and not let it slip
away yet again.

I hope and pray that the Legislature will work
collaboratively with the farmworkers and our family farms to craft meaningful
reform this year, one that recognizes the unique contributions of our farmers,
and the human dignity of our farmworkers.

Thank you again for the opportunity to speak to you today,
and God bless you.

Article source: https://www.nyscatholic.org/farmworker-fair-labor-practices-act-testimony/

School Energy Efficiency Collaboration Programs

Published on May 1st, 2019

Memorandum of Support

Re: S.4480 Ranzenhofer / A.6820 Crespo
In relation to including private and religious schools in school energy efficiency collaboration programs 

The above-referenced legislation amends Chapter 403 of the laws of 2016, in relation to including private and religious schools in school energy efficiency collaboration programs. 

The New York State Catholic Conference supports this legislation. 

New York’s religious and independent schools make considerable efforts to improve the energy efficiency of their facilities. Their efforts, however, are often hampered by limited funding and the difficulties in accessing state and federal energy efficiency programs. This legislation will enable the state’s religious and independent schools to more fully participate in the collective effort to be smarter about our energy use. 

Not only will this measure help our schools in the stewardship of their school budgets, but a greater benefit will accrue to all utility rate payers. 

For the above reasons, we urge your favorable action on this bill. 

Article source: https://www.nyscatholic.org/school-energy-efficiency/

Pro-Life Pregnancy Centers

Published on April 28th, 2019

Memorandum of Opposition

Re: S.2264 Hoylman / A.2352 Glick
In relation to pregnancy centers 

This bill would impose unconstitutional requirements on pregnancy centers in violation of the First Amendment. Specifically, it would require that a mandatory, government-designed statement be made by pro-life pregnancy centers to disclose to clients the services they do not provide. It therefore mandates an impermissible form of coerced speech. We urge you to oppose this bill. 

The legislation also improperly imposes this message only on certain speakers, and thus is an unconstitutional form of viewpoint-based discrimination. The state would never seek to require any other business to immediately — upon first contact — inform clients of the goods or services they do not provide, either orally or in writing. Yet this is what this onerous and discriminatory bill would require for pro-life centers. The unconstitutionality of this bill is clear in light of the 2018 Supreme Court decision in NIFLA v. Becerra

Since New York State’s abortion rate is almost twice the national average, it is clear that pregnant women here are not confronting difficulties in obtaining pregnancy terminations. Anyone who believes in “freedom of choice” should therefore allow pro-life pregnancy centers to carry out their mission of providing other options to women facing unplanned pregnancies. 

Pro-life pregnancy centers provide valuable services, assisting often frightened and vulnerable pregnant women with alternatives to the abortion procedure. This legislation is an attempt to silence these pro-life voices and shut these centers down. It violates the constitutional guarantee of free speech. We urge you to oppose it. 

Article source: https://www.nyscatholic.org/pro-life-pregnancy-centers/

Judge rules in favor of plaintiffs who challenged State Ed plan to have public schools evaluate private schools

Published on April 18th, 2019

In a decision dated yesterday and received this morning, New York State Supreme Court Judge Christina L. Ryba granted full relief to plaintiffs (including the NYS Council of Catholic School Superintendents) who had challenged new State Education Department guidance mandating that local public school districts visit and evaluate all private schools. The guidance was challenged in three separate lawsuits (one by Jewish organizations and schools; another by the NYS Association of Independent Schools, as well as individual schools; and a third by the Catholic school superintendents and individual schools). All three challenges were consolidated in oral arguments, which were heard on April 15. Judge Ryba issued her order two days later, striking down the new guidance as null and void.

Judge Ryba found that the “guidance” actually amounted to mandatory “rules,” which were not implemented in compliance with the State Administrative Procedures Act.

Below is a statement from James D. Cultrara, director for education of the New York State Catholic Conference:

“The NYS Council of Catholic School Superintendents is very pleased that the court struck down the State Education Department’s plan to have public schools evaluate private schools. We’ve prided ourselves on going above and beyond state academic standards. Parents have always chosen our schools because of that rigor and they can remain confident in the strength of our schools going forward.”

The decision for the Catholic plaintiff can be read here.

Article source: https://www.nyscatholic.org/substantial-equivalency-ruling/

Physician-Assisted Suicide

Published on April 9th, 2019

Memorandum of Opposition

Re: A.2694 Paulin / S.3947 Savino
In relation to legalizing physician-assisted suicide

The above-referenced bill would add a new section of the Public Health Law to allow physicians to prescribe lethal doses of medication for the express purpose of ending a patient’s life.

The New York State
Catholic Conference opposes this
bill for many reasons.

Legalizing physician-assisted suicide would:

  • Blur longstanding medical, moral and legal distinctions between withdrawing extraordinary medical assistance and taking active steps to destroy human life. The former removes burdensome or useless treatments, allowing nature to take its course, and allowing the patient to either live or die. The latter is the deliberate and direct act of making a patient dead. In 2017, New York’s highest court said this distinction is “important, logical, and certainly rational,” adding that “it turns on intent.” (See Myers v. Schneiderman, September 7, 2017)
  • Undermine the physician’s role as healer, forever altering the doctor-patient relationship, and lessen the quality of care provided to patients at the end of life. Patients are best served when medical professionals, together with families and loved ones, provide support and care with dignity and respect, not lethal doses of drugs. The American Medical Association continues to hold a strong policy position against physician-assisted suicide, which they say is “fundamentally incompatible with the physician’s role” and would be “difficult or impossible to control.”
  • Lead to psychological, financial and other pressures for vulnerable persons to end their lives. In today’s era of health care rationing and cost-cutting, physician-assisted suicide could easily rise to the level of the most acceptable, and even expected, “treatment” for terminal illness. In 1994, Governor Mario Cuomo’s Task Force on Life the Law released a report unanimously rejecting assisted suicide, and cautioned: “No matter how carefully any guidelines are framed, assisted suicide and euthanasia will be practiced through the prism of social inequality and bias that characterizes the delivery of services in all segments of society, including health care. The practices will pose the greatest risks to those who are poor, elderly, members of a minority group or without access to good medical care. The growing concern about health care costs increases the risks. This cost consciousness will not be diminished, and may well be exacerbated, by health care reform.”

This particular legislation contains many of the same fatal flaws contained in previous versions:

  • It does not require screening, testing, or treatment for clinical depression;
  • It requires a physician to list the underlying illness as the cause of death, making it impossible to know how widely this form of suicide is being practiced, thus making it impossible to track abuses; and
  • It contains absolutely no safeguards against coercion or abuse once the lethal drugs are in the patient’s possession.

In recent weeks,
both Connecticut and Maryland have rejected similar legislation to legalize the
practice of physicians providing life-ending drugs to their patients. Yet the
New York legislation contains no residency requirement, opening the door to
out-of-state visitors obtaining lethal drugs here, and the possibility of
suicide clinics to handle the tourism traffic.

Rather than assisting suicide, government
should be consistent in its efforts to prevent suicide.It is illogical for the state to promote/facilitate suicide for
one group of persons — calling the suicides of those with a terminal illness
and a specific prognosis “dignified and humane,” while recognizing suicide as a
serious statewide public health concern in all other circumstances, and
spending enormous resources to combat it.

We urge the state
to remove barriers and improve access to palliative care and hospice care for
those in the final stages of terminal illness. Improved education and training
of physicians in pain management, together with appropriate diagnosis and
treatment for depression, would go a long way toward eliminating calls for
suicide among the sick and the dying.

We strongly urge you to oppose this bill.

Article source: https://www.nyscatholic.org/physician-assisted-suicide/

Catholic Conference, Catholic Charities Call on SCOTUS to Reject Citizenship Question in Census

Published on April 8th, 2019


Photo by Josh Sobel on Unsplash

The New York State Catholic Conference, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York, and Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens, are calling on the United States Supreme Court to uphold a lower court ruling blocking a proposed question on citizenship from appearing on the 2020 U.S. Census. 

The Catholic entities, joining with other religious and secular human services organizations, filed an amicus curiae (friend of the court) brief supporting a lawsuit brought by New York and several other states and entities against the United States Department of Commerce. The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the case April 23 following a favorable decision for the plaintiffs in federal district court in the Southern District of New York in January, which the government has appealed. 

In the brief, the organizations argue, first, that Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, Jr.’s decision to add a citizenship question violated the law because he failed to report to Congress well in advance of the census that he intended to do so. This failure, the amici argued, violates the separation of powers and “has a pernicious anti-democratic effect.”

Furthermore, they argued, the decision to add the citizenship question “will undoubtedly cause a severe undercount of noncitizen and Hispanic households” that would result in harm that “is hard to exaggerate,” both to the human services organizations and to the individuals they serve.

Because of the presumed undercounting, states like New York would see an “unwarranted reduction in and reallocation of governmental funding” from federal programs that distribute funds based on census data, the brief argues.

“Those funding cuts threaten to cause widespread social chaos,” according to the brief, which said social service agencies that serve vulnerable populations “will be pushed to the breaking point” as a result. The result would be that the tens of thousands of New Yorkers who depend on these services “will be (quite literally) left out in the cold, without the services which they need and on which they depend.”

“To make matters worse,” the brief stated, “resource scarcity threatens to foment conflict between diverse racial, ethnic, and religious groups at a time when, for various other reasons, such tensions are already sadly on the rise in this country.”

In addition to the Catholic entities, other organizations joining the amicus brief include the American Jewish Committee, Commission of Religious Leaders of New York City, Council of Peoples Organization, Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, Human Services Council, Jewish Association Serving the Aging, Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services, Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, Jewish Education Project, New York Board of Rabbis, and UJA-Federation of New York.

The amicus brief was prepared by Eamon P. Joyce, Qais Ghafary, and David S. Kanter of Sidley Austin LLP.

Article source: https://www.nyscatholic.org/census-release/

Catholic Conference, Catholic Charities Council Grateful for Human Services COLA in Budget Resolutions

Published on March 13th, 2019


Catholic Charities and other human services sector employees are a critical link in the social safety net.
(Photo courtesy Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Albany)

The New York State Catholic Conference and the Council
of Catholic Charities Directors are grateful that the New York State Senate and
Assembly both included in their one-house budget resolutions a 2.9 percent cost
of living adjustment (COLA) for the state’s human services sector.

“Catholic Charities and the state’s other human
services providers are an irreplaceable part of the state’s safety net for
vulnerable individuals and families. The funding of the human services COLA in
the legislature’s one-house budgets recognizes this fact,” said Michael Lawler,
director of Catholic Charities for the Catholic Conference. “We’re grateful to
the Senate and Assembly for acknowledging this economic justice issue, and we
urge that the COLA be included in the final negotiated budget.”

The Senate and Assembly resolutions represents a departure
from the Executive Budget proposal submitted by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, which
recommended deferring the COLA, as has occurred in eight of the last 10 years.

The Catholic Conference represents the Bishops of New
York State in public policy matters.

Article source: https://www.nyscatholic.org/cola-statement/

Statement on Human Services COLA

Published on March 13th, 2019


Catholic Charities and other human services sector employees are a critical link in the social safety net.
(Photo courtesy Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Albany)

The New York State Catholic Conference and the Council
of Catholic Charities Directors are grateful that the New York State Senate and
Assembly both included in their one-house budget resolutions a 2.9 percent cost
of living adjustment (COLA) for the state’s human services sector.

“Catholic Charities and the state’s other human
services providers are an irreplaceable part of the state’s safety net for
vulnerable individuals and families. The funding of the human services COLA in
the legislature’s one-house budgets recognizes this fact,” said Michael Lawler,
director of Catholic Charities for the Catholic Conference. “We’re grateful to
the Senate and Assembly for acknowledging this economic justice issue, and we
urge that the COLA be included in the final negotiated budget.”

The Senate and Assembly resolutions represents a departure
from the Executive Budget proposal submitted by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, which
recommended deferring the COLA, as has occurred in eight of the last 10 years.

The Catholic Conference represents the Bishops of New
York State in public policy matters.

Article source: https://www.nyscatholic.org/human-services-cola/

Late-Term Abortion Expansion: Resources for Education

Published on March 12th, 2019

Millions of New Yorkers are understandably upset by the state legislature’s 2019 enactment of abortion expansion. We’ve assembled some tools which you can use to educate others about this law, and encourage them to organize, educate, and spread the pro-life message.

Article source: https://www.nyscatholic.org/late-term-abortion-resources/

Ten tips for writing letters to the editor of your local newspaper about NYS’s new abortion law

Published on March 12th, 2019

Letters to the editor are an important advocacy tool. In addition to educating the public and the news media, elected officials pay attention to Letters Page conversations in their local papers to get a pulse on their constituents’ opinions on controversial issues. Below are 10 tips for effective letter writing, and some sample letters below that are intended solely as examples, rather than to be used exactly.

1. To be considered for publication, a letter to the editor should be a total length of between 100 and 200 words. You can check the specific requirements of any individual paper.

2. Always include your name, address and a daytime telephone number. Many news outlets call the letter-writer for verification.

3. It is best to email your letter to the editor, and place the content of your letter in the body of the email; do not send the letter as an attachment to your email.

4. Be respectful. Never use inflammatory language.

5. A letter is more likely to be published if the topic is tied to a recent news story or event. Keep your eyes on the news: if the legislature is considering new laws to benefit women, a letter about how the new abortion law harms women would be appropriate. If there’s a story about a new safety device for newborn babies, a letter about the harm to infants from the abortion law would fit in nicely

6. Know the facts. See our fact sheet about the new law. Don’t exaggerate or overstate the law. Just state the facts. The truth is powerful.

7. Stick with one main issue or point. Don’t try to include all the flaws in the Reproductive Health Act in one letter. Pick one topic and stay there. Keep it simple and understandable.

8 Use your own words. While we offer sample letters to the editor, it is always best to put the letter in your own words. A person’s passion and true feelings come through most effectively when they use their own heartfelt words.

9. You can use the Action Center on this website to send letters to editors easily and efficiently. Here’s how: Go to the “Take Action!” tab in the main menu above and click on Contact Local Media. Enter your home zip code and then your address. The system will display for you a directory of your federal officials, your state officials, and your local media (make sure to scroll down). Check off the news outlet to whom you’d like to send your letter, then hit the tab at the bottom that says “Compose Message.” Just enter your subject and write your letter in the space marked “Message Body.” Be sure to include your phone number at the end of your message, because many news outlets will not publish a letter without a phone number included for verification. Review your mailing address and click “Send Message.” It’s that simple!

10. Know that each time a letter is published, a seed is planted. The Letters section is one of the most widely read parts of most newspapers. It offers a free platform to reach a broad audience. Use it to provide readers with useful information and a call to take action.

Sample letters to the editor

TOPIC 1: THE NUMBER OF LATE-TERM ABORTIONS

I am shocked and saddened that Governor Cuomo and Democratic
lawmakers have passed a new and even more liberal abortion law than New York State
already had. Supporters say that late-term abortions occur very rarely, but
that’s not really true.

The most recent New York State Health Department statistics
show that in 2016, 1,763 abortions were performed at 20 weeks of pregnancy or
more. That doesn’t sound very rare to me. These are fully formed babies in the
womb who can be legally destroyed by abortion. These are not “clumps of cells”
or merely “parts of the woman’s body.” These are innocent infants, dozing,
kicking and sucking their thumbs.  And
even if those infants have a genetic disease or a prenatal abnormality, they
deserve the right to be born and to die a natural death. They do not deserve a
violent death by abortion.

Now that the state legislature has given permission to late-term abortionists to come in to New York to practice their trade, I fear that the number of abortions will go even higher.

TOPIC 2: THE “HEALTH” EXCEPTION

On January 22, the New York State Legislature passed and the
governor signed the “Reproductive Health Act,” an extreme new law that will
allow late-term abortions for virtually any reason. Here’s why.

The law adds a “health” exception to New York law, so that
abortions are now legal in the final three months of a woman’s pregnancy if her
“life or health” is endangered. Previously the law said that only if the
mother’s “life” was in danger was a third trimester abortion legal.

The problem is that the word “health” has been interpreted
by the US Supreme Court as including:

“… all factors – physical, emotional, psychological,
familial, and the woman’s age – relevant to the well-being of the patient. All
these factors may relate to health.” (See Doe vs. Bolton 1973)

The health exception allowing late-term abortions is a loophole big enough to drive a truck through. We should not be treating innocent human lives as if they were worthless and disposable for any reason. All life is precious.

TOPIC 3: INFANTICIDE

New York’s new abortion law went way beyond abortion. It
legalized infanticide in the Empire State. It specifically removed a section of
Public Health Law (Section 4164) that required medical attention and basic
civil rights be given to any baby who accidentally survives an abortion.

For what possible reason could the governor and lawmakers
have supported this change in our law? Don’t we owe these born, helpless,
voiceless infants basic medical care and protection? This has nothing to do
with the woman’s right to access abortion (she’s already done that) or with
shutting down abortion clinics (clearly they are still out there). We are
talking about denying care and compassion to a living breathing member of our
human family!

I shudder to ask “what’s next”?

TOPIC 4: NEW YORK IS THE ABORTION DESTINATION

New York’s new “Reproductive Health Act” has made abortion in our state an untouchable “fundamental right.” There are virtually no regulations on abortion in New York, unlike most states, where lawmakers have required things like parental notification for minors’ abortions and placed restrictions on taxpayer funding of abortion. Now late-term abortions are available for practically any reason, and new regulations will be essentially impossible to enact. It is logical to assume that abortion will become a tourism business in New York, with women coming in from other states to destroy their unborn children. While other businesses flee the state, the abortion business will be booming. How sad.

TOPIC 5: NON-DOCTORS

I find it hard to believe, but New York’s new abortion law allows non-doctors to perform abortions. The law removed previous law that had required a “duly licensed physician” to perform abortion. In its place, the new law allows any “health care practitioner” who is “licensed, certified or authorized” and acting within their “scope of practice” to perform an abortion.  This sounds to me like lesser trained and lesser experienced practitioners will be able to perform both early and late-term abortions. Does this include both surgical and non-surgical abortions? I heard lawmakers say they were passing this law for women, but how can this possibly be good for women’s health?

TOPIC 6: DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

Moving abortion from the criminal laws to the health laws in
our state has already had at least one horrifying consequence. In February
there were at least two cases of crimes committed against pregnant mothers and
their unborn children, but no charges can be brought for the death of the
innocent infants. In Queens County, a mother was heinously
butchered to death
with a knife, and so was her unborn baby. No
charges can be brought by prosecutors for the death of that baby. In Rockland
County, a man plowed
down a pregnant woman
after an altercation at a convenience store,
resulting in a murder charge for the death of the woman, and no charge for the
death of her baby. That’s because there no longer is an “abortion” crime in New
York.

This is unjust and wrong. It must be made right.

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Article source: https://www.nyscatholic.org/ten-ten-tips/

Insurance mandate for in vitro fertilization

Published on March 8th, 2019

Memorandum of Opposition

Re: A.2817 Simotas / S.719 Savino
In relation to an insurance mandate for in vitro fertilization

The
above-referenced legislation would require large group health insurance plans
to cover the costs of in vitro fertilization (IVF), gamete and embryo
transfers, and other assisted reproductive technologies.  The New York State Catholic Conference
opposes this legislation, as well as language proposed in the 2019-2020
Executive Budget which would accomplish the same goals.

While
the Catholic Church empathizes with childless married couples yearning for the
joys of parenthood, the Conference holds grave concerns with this insurance
mandate.  These concerns include the
legislation’s a) requirement for funding acts that destroy innocent human
embryos, both inside and outside the womb; b) endorsement of technologies which
promote the manufacture of human beings, contribute to the breakdown of family
relationships, and interfere with the natural act of marital sexual
intercourse; and c) lack of any conscience protection for religious employers
and those with ethical objections to assisted reproductive technologies.

A) Destruction of Human Embryos

Many
of the assisted reproductive technologies available today, including IVF,
routinely involve the creation, freezing, discarding, and systematic
destruction of living human embryos in
order to bring one healthy child to term. Initially, the process requires the
fertilization of numerous eggs in the laboratory in order to be marginally
effective. The embryos not implanted are then either discarded immediately or
frozen for later use; many do not survive the freezing and defrosting
processes. In reality, the majority of embryonic children created by IVF procedures
will eventually end up deceased.

Practitioners
generally choose to transfer greater numbers of embryos than fewer, to increase
the chance that at least one will implant; this increases the likelihood of
multiple gestations. According to the NYS Task Force on Life and the Law
(Assisted Reproductive Technologies, April 1998, page 128), “The use of
fertility drugs and the transfer of multiple embryos into the uterus during IVF
creates a recognized risk that more embryos will implant than can safely be
carried to term. In recent years, practitioners have relied on access to ‘fetal
reduction’ – the destruction of one or more embryos so the remaining ones have
a better chance – to manage these hazardous situations.” Simply put, fetal
reduction is abortion.

The
Catholic Church views the manipulation and destruction of living human embryos
through assisted reproductive technologies as an assault on the dignity and
value of human life. Each human embryo possesses unique DNA, and need only
nutrition and the safe environment of the womb to grow and develop. Living
human embryos must not be used as a means to an end because they are, like all
precious human beings, an end in and of themselves.

B) Concerns with Assisted Reproductive Technologies

The
Catholic Church supports and assists couples in overcoming infertility through
the use of scientifically-based diagnostics, drugs and procedures that assist
marital sexual intercourse in reaching its natural procreative potential. This
type of “restorative reproductive medicine” can diagnose and resolve underlying
fertility issues and treat reproductive disorders in an effective, less
invasive, less costly manner than IVF. Restorative reproductive medicine can
markedly reduce the chances of multiple pregnancies, premature births and
miscarriages, and decrease other potential maternal complications as well.

The
Catholic Church cannot support in vitro fertilization because it separates the
natural sexual act from the conception of a child. A man and a woman supply the raw material for a technician to produce
a child, grow him or her in a nutrient culture, and insert the child into the
mother’s womb. This is done in exchange for many thousands of dollars.

IVF
procedures are an artificial means of reproduction which treat children as
merchandise to be manufactured, bought, and disposed of at will.

It is easy to see how this
mentality can lead to other abuses as well, resulting from the desire to
manufacture the best product most efficiently. Embryos produced in a laboratory
can be pre-screened for genetic defects or a predisposition to certain
diseases, or even for gender and eye color, and thrown away if they fail
quality control.

C) Lack of Conscience Protection

This
legislation contains no conscience protection for religious employers,
religious organizations or closely held for-profit employers with religious
objections to certain assisted reproductive technologies. Our Conference has
consistently and strongly advocated for the inclusion of protections which
would exempt religious institutional employers from paying for such mandates.

Conclusion

Current
law already requires health insurance plans to cover the diagnosis and
treatment of infertility, but does not extend coverage to IVF, gamete and
embryo transfers. Nor does current law extend the coverage mandate to human
cloning, sterilization reversals, and experimental procedures, a policy that
would be maintained under this legislation. For all of the above-mentioned
reasons, we believe New York’s current law draws appropriate lines and we
therefore urge lawmakers to reject A.2817 / S.719.

Article source: https://www.nyscatholic.org/insurance-mandate-for-in-vitro-fertilization/

Letter to NYS Senate regarding commercial surrogacy

Published on March 6th, 2019

Printable PDF

 Dear Senator: 

The proposed Executive Budget contains a policy proposal unrelated to the state’s finances which repeals New York’s longstanding prohibition on commercial reproductive surrogacy. The language, misleadingly named the “Child-Parent Security Act,” is included in the Public Protection and General Government Article VII legislation (S.1505-A/A.2005-A), Part QQ, beginning on page 200. We strongly oppose this language and urge that it be excluded from the final 2019-2020 SFY Budget. 

Currently, New York Domestic Relations Law declares surrogacy contracts contrary to public policy, void, and unenforceable. Vendors who assist in arranging such contracts are liable for up to a civil penalty of $10,000 and forfeiture of the fee received in brokering the contract; a second violation constitutes a felony. This policy was signed into law in 1992 by then-Governor Mario M. Cuomo, with broad bipartisan support. 

The language in the Executive Budget would undo this policy and allow contractual profit-making arrangements whereby a woman’s womb will be bought/rented for the purpose of breeding a child for a third party, to whom the infant will be relinquished at birth. 

We strongly urge you to oppose the repeal of New York’s prohibition. 

Reproductive commerce is human exploitation. Commercialization denigrates the dignity of women by degrading pregnancy to a service. In states where surrogacy is permitted, surrogate services are advertised, surrogates are recruited — most often on college campuses, in poor neighborhoods, and on military bases — and operating agencies make large profits. Yet the process of surrogacy entails invasive, often burdensome, medical procedures and serious health risks for women. 

Ironically, multiple embryo pregnancies, which are common in assisted reproductive technologies, have been linked to an increased risk of maternal mortality, something which other parts of the proposed Executive Budget call a “serious public health concern” and seek to address and prevent (see S.1507-A/A.2007-A, Part R, beginning on page 93).  

Women who live in dire poverty do not have genuine freedom of choice in making a decision to carry another’s child. Many egg donors and surrogate “carriers” are economically vulnerable women who are desperate for financial income. In states where surrogacy is permitted, it is estimated that gestational surrogates are paid between $20,000 and $30,000 for “reasonable living expenses,” in addition to medical expenses. Egg donors are typically paid $5,000 to $10,000 for each “donation.” Alarmingly, vulnerable women are sometimes exploited repeatedly for their eggs or their wombs, despite the fact that the long-term health dangers to these women are unknown. 

A human baby is not a consumer product to be bought or sold based on the supply and demand of the economy. We would note that the legislative language offers no protection for children in terms of the intended home in which they will reside. As with adoption placements, should there not be background checks and home inspections prior to a child being relinquished? Why does the legislation contain “eligibility requirements” for the surrogate mother but not for the “intended parents”? 

We believe that the surrogacy policy proposed in the Executive Budget fosters grave violations of human rights and human dignity, and will reap many dangerous consequences. It is not in the best interests of women, children, families or society. 

We urge you to oppose the “Child-Parent Security Act” language in the proposed Executive Budget, as well as the freestanding legislation (S.2071) known by the same name. 

Sincerely, 

Kathleen M. Gallagher
Director of Pro-Life Activities 

Article source: https://www.nyscatholic.org/letter-to-nys-senate-regarding-commercial-surrogacy/

Pot slider

Published on March 6th, 2019

marijuana

In its rush to legalize so-called “recreational” marijuana
usage, we believe that our state’s elected officials are preparing to open a
Pandora’s Box that will have multiple deleterious effects on individuals,
families, and all of society.

While the Governor and some legislators see enhanced revenues for the state’s coffers through a new taxable marijuana industry, we are more concerned with consequences ranging from increased teenage and childhood usage, harmful effects on developing brains, addiction, natural progression to harder drug use, increased impairment-related transportation accidents and deaths, and other potential public health and safety issues.

Of particular concern regarding the movement toward
legalization is the impact on children, and the normalization of usage that
state approval encourages. Proponents argue that usage will be restricted to
age 21 and older but, as we have seen in the alcohol and tobacco industries,
producers of harmful products always find a way to market their products to
children.

Studies appear to show racial and ethnic disparities in
enforcement of marijuana possession, and we take this issue seriously. The
state can and should take appropriate measures to ensure that skin color or zip
code do not result in different outcomes for the same offense, including re-evaluating
the justice of current criminal penalties for low-level possession. At the same
time, we must not simply throw up our hands and legalize a harmful substance in
order to declare the problem of discrimination solved.

The Catholic Church is not prohibitionist but at the same
time we believe the government should not be encouraging destructive behavior,
whether gambling or drug use, to raise revenue. Vice is not an appropriate
economic development engine for a state that prides itself as a national
progressive leader. Our state motto is Excelsior
(ever upward), but policies that exploit addiction instead lead us ever
downward.

We join with our state’s medical, education and law
enforcement communities in urging New York State to reject marijuana
legalization.

The Catholic Conference represents the Bishops of New York
State in public policy matters.

Article source: https://www.nyscatholic.org/statement-on-recreational-marijuana-legalization/