New York

A.3740, Dinowitz / S.4278, Ranzenhofer: In relation to chemical digestion of human remains

Published on January 16th, 2018

Memorandum Requesting Amendment

The above-referenced bill seeks to amend the definition of “cremation” under the Not-For-Profit Corporation Law to include “any other technical process.”

The New York State Catholic Conference opposes the prospect that this bill under the amended definition would allow for a process known as alkaline hydrolysis.

The Catholic Conference understands that crematories across the state are constantly evolving to meet the needs of New York State residents and cemeteries are increasingly dealing with issues regarding burial space. We agree that allowing the cemetery board to authorize new cremation processes would be both more expedient and allow for the industry to help determine the value of regulatory proposals through the public comment rule-making process.

The Catholic Conference, however, is concerned that processes such as alkaline hydrolysis and potentially other processes involving an abundant use of chemicals to digest human remains do not sufficiently respect the dignity of the human body. The Church’s reverence for the sacredness of the human body and its dignity arises out of concern for both the body’s natural and supernatural properties. It is therefore essential that the body of a deceased person be treated with respect and reverence.

Therefore, if this bill does move forward, it is suggested that safeguards be added to prohibit processes such as alkaline hydrolysis from being considered during the rule making process. Such a prohibition would still allow crematories across the state to gain access to new innovations in the field while also ensuring the dignity of the deceased’s body is preserved.

Article source: http://www.nyscatholic.org/2018/01/a-3740-dinowitz-s-4278-ranzenhofer-in-relation-to-chemical-digestion-of-human-remains/

A.5885-A, Rosenthal / S.6575, Hoylman / S.6722, Rules : In relation to civil and criminal changes to the statute of limitations in cases of child sexual abuse

Published on January 8th, 2018

Memorandum of Opposition

The Catholic Church has zero tolerance for sexual abuse and supports proposals in the New York State Legislature to extend the time allowed under the law to file criminal charges or civil lawsuits against those who abuse children.

Sexual abuse is a societal scourge. It knows no boundaries. Protecting children from sexual abuse and safeguarding the legal rights of victims requires a comprehensive approach. While the Catholic Conference strongly supports efforts to prospectively increase the criminal and civil statute of limitations for child sexual abuse, the above-referenced legislation is seriously flawed in that it contains a statute of limitations “window” to open up previously time-barred civil claims going back indefinitely against not only abusers themselves, but against their employers as well. Therefore, the Catholic Conference must strongly oppose this legislation.

This extraordinary provision would force institutions to defend alleged conduct decades ago about which they have no knowledge, and in which they had no role, potentially involving employees long retired, dead or infirm, based on information long lost, if it ever existed. To be clear, the sponsors’ intent is to allow claims from even the 1940s or 1950s to be resurrected.

Statutes of limitation are an essential protection of American law because they ensure that claims can be fairly adjudicated in a timely manner based on credible evidence. The New York State Bar Association has said:

Over time, evidence is lost or destroyed and witnesses die or become unavailable or, when they are available, their memories are less reliable. These circumstances make proof and defense of such actions extremely difficult, if not impossible, for all parties involved. (New York State Bar Association’s Committee on Civil Practice Law and Rules Legislative Report #8, Feb. 25, 2003)

Moreover, this bill is seriously flawed in that it only raises the criminal statute of limitations by five years, until the victim-survivor’s 28th birthday. At the same time, it raises the civil statute of limitations until the victim-survivor’s 50th birthday, in addition to a retroactive window that allows old lawsuits to be brought no matter how long ago the incident occurred. Clearly the bill’s focus on lawsuits against organizations, rather than punishing predators and removing them from our communities, does not in any way achieve a goal of protecting children today or in the future.

While some legislative and policy disagreements about the ideal approach continue, New York State continues to make laudable progress in protecting children. The criminal statute of limitations on charges of rape or felony sexual abuse of a child has been eliminated. These crimes are now treated with the same gravity as murder.

Still more can and should be done. Currently under consideration is an omnibus child protection bill sponsored by Assembly Member Michael Cusick (D-Staten Island) that would extend the civil statute of limitations for sexual abuse lawsuits another five years to the victim’s 28thbirthday, and would apply equally to public and private institutions. The Cusick bill also eliminates the criminal statute entirely, adds clergy to the list of mandated reporters, and requires criminal background checks for all employees and volunteers who work with children in either public or not-for-profit settings. The Catholic Conference strong supports the Cusick bill as the best legislative remedy available to protect children from abuse today and to give victims more time to seek justice, both criminally and civilly.

To reiterate, while we are in agreement with aspects of A.5885-A, the ill-advised “window” to reopen decades-old claims is, in the end, contrary to justice, because simply too much time has gone by in many cases to mount an effective defense, particularly for institutional defendants. We therefore urge the bill be defeated, and for the legislature to instead pass the NYS Child Protection Act (A.7302).

Article source: http://www.nyscatholic.org/2018/01/rosenthal_cva/

A.1378, Cahill / S.3668, Bonacic: In relation to expanding contraceptive insurance coverage

Published on January 8th, 2018

Memorandum of Opposition

The above-referenced legislation, requested by the Attorney General, would expand current law to require increased insurance coverage for contraception, abortion-causing drugs, and voluntary sterilization. The New York State Catholic Conference opposes this measure.

In 2002, New York State lawmakers passed the “Women’s Health and Wellness Act” which requires insurance plans with prescription coverage to cover FDA-approved contraceptive drugs and devices, and provides insufficient protections for religious employers.

The legislation now before you would go further by mandating cost-free contraceptives, requiring that a 12-month supply of contraceptives be covered at one time, and including emergency contraception (EC), the so-called “morning-after pill.” We believe that enabling such large amounts of prescription medication, particularly in such high doses as emergency contraception, to get into the hands of young people is irresponsible and dangerous public policy.

This bill would further expand access to emergency contraception by allowing midwives to prescribe EC, allowing pharmacists and nurses to dispense EC without a patient-specific prescription, requiring insurance coverage for any form of EC without cost-sharing of any kind, and requiring state DOH education and outreach about EC to school educators. Such policy would provide girls as young as 11 or 12 years old easy access to these powerful drugs without parental knowledge or physician oversight. As a matter of state law, many products sold by pharmacies, e.g. tobacco and non-prescription allergy medicine, are restricted to consumers 18 years of age and older.

Medical experts and the FDA agree that emergency contraception can work in various ways. It can act to inhibit or delay ovulation, and thus prevent conception. But it can also act to prevent an already-fertilized egg from implanting in the uterine wall, destroying a developing human embryo. This is early abortion, and it is morally abhorrent to many New Yorkers.

We further oppose this bill because it fails to provide religious liberty protections for employers who may have objections to financing insurance coverage of drugs they find morally objectionable. The legislation keeps in place the inadequate 4-part legal definition of “religious employer” which fails to protect charitable organizations, hospitals and schools sponsored by religious organizations, as well as private organizations. These entities would be forced by this bill to pay for insurance coverage they find objectionable. A.1378 Cahill

Moreover, the language of this legislation creates problems even for those religious employers who do qualify for protection under the 4-part religious exemption. The bill prohibits insurance plans from imposing “restrictions or delays” with regard to “timely access” to contraception, a standard that may not be possible for religious employers which are in the process of obtaining a religious exemption and notifying enrollees.

For these reasons, the New York State Catholic Conference opposes this legislation and urges a negative vote.

Article source: http://www.nyscatholic.org/2018/01/a-1378-cahill-in-relation-to-expanding-contraceptive-insurance-coverage/

A.1748, Glick / S.2796 Krueger In Relation to Abortion Expansion

Published on January 8th, 2018

This legislation is a re-branded attempt to expand abortion in New York State, similar to the failed tenth plank of the 2013 “women’s equality agenda.” But the language is new; it is bolder in its breadth and extremism. It is not a simple update of New York’s laws. The New York State Catholic Conference opposes this bill.

It’s a late-term abortion expansion.

No matter how the bill is re-worded, the primary objective of this legislation is to expand late-term abortion. Current state law says abortions are legal in New York through 24 weeks of pregnancy (Article 125 Penal Law), but outlawed after that unless they are necessary to save a woman’s life. This bill would repeal the Penal Law references to abortion and insert a “health” exception into the newly-written Public Health Law. Such a “health” exception has been broadly interpreted by the courts to include age, economic, social and emotional factors. As a result, this bill will allow abortion for any reason and at any time during a pregnancy, including into the ninth month. It will encourage more late-term abortionists to come into New York and it will lead to more third-trimester abortions in New York State.

Moreover, the language of this legislation specifically allows the abortionist to determine the “absence of fetal viability”; he could determine viability is absent at 24 weeks gestation, or 29 weeks or even 32 weeks gestation. This language will most certainly result in viable unborn children being aborted.

It empowers non-doctors to perform abortions.

Current New York State statutes and regulations are clear in requiring that only licensed physicians may perform abortions in New York. No federal law has ever given permission to non-doctors to perform abortions. This legislation is very specific in reversing these protections, by stating that any health care practitioner licensed under Title Eight of the Education Law may perform an abortion. Practitioners licensed under Title Eight include nurse practitioners, physician assistants, nurse mid-wives, as well as a broad range of other non-physicians. This bill would allow the Education Department to authorize any of these non-doctors to do both chemical and surgical abortions.

Empowering non-physicians to perform abortions is a specific goal of abortion advocates as they seek to boost access in the face of a declining number of doctors willing to perform the procedure. It should stand to reason that allowing non-doctors to perform surgery is dangerous for women and infants.

It could compel participation in abortion.

Because the legislative intent of this bill would ordain abortion as a “fundamental right,” the right to abortion could supersede everything, even the right of conscience. The government would have the task of ensuring that there is no “discrimination” against this fundamental right being exercised. This means that doctors could be compelled to perform abortions or risk losing their license to practice. Hospitals and medical facilities, even religious ones, could be forced to allow abortions on site or risk fines, penalties, loss of funding/operational certificates or other punishment. Likewise, health insurance plans could be forced to cover abortion and employers could be forced to purchase such coverage.

It eliminates protections for pregnant women and their unborn children.

Moving abortion from the Penal Law to the Public Health Law is a major policy shift that removes accountability for those who would harm unborn children outside the context of abortion. The crime of “abortional act” is the only place in New York law that allows for criminal charges for violent attacks against pregnant women and their unborn children, which occur with some frequency in cases of domestic violence.

This legislation would remove all current Penal law protections for pregnant women in cases of illegal or unwanted abortion (Penal Law Sections 125.05, 125.40 and 125.45). Repealing these laws – and proposing no penalties whatsoever for violation of the proposed new law — does a grave disservice to pregnant women, the very-much-wanted unborn children they may carry, and any possibility of justice for them when crimes are committed against them.

It jeopardizes live-born children.

Shockingly, this legislation repeals Public Health Law Section 4164, part of which gives full legal protection to any child who might (mistakenly) be born alive as the result of an abortion. It also requires a second doctor to be available during a late-term abortion to help give medical care to any such child. It is difficult to imagine the motivation of bill sponsors in removing these protections, which have been upheld as constitutional.

In 2013 America saw the face of late-term abortion during the trial of former Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell, who was convicted of numerous crimes, including murdering three infants born alive during attempted abortion procedures. The grand jury report on Gosnell states that “he regularly and illegally delivered live, viable babies in the third trimester of pregnancy, and then murdered these newborns by severing their spinal cords with scissors.”

In addition, there have been documented cases of babies born alive during attempted abortions who were left to die of neglect. The intersection of late-term abortions, the potential for live births, and the recent revelations of the transfer of fetal tissues or whole cadavers from clinics to researchers raise grave concerns.

Thankfully, Kermit Gosnell is serving a sentence of life imprisonment and no longer endangers women and infants. But removing this protection from our statute will send a New York “welcome” signal to other late-term abortionists, who are often notorious for disregarding the health and safety of women and children.

The right to abortion does not extend so far as to justify the denial of fundamental civil rights and protections to born, living human children.

It will increase the state’s abortion rate.

As outlined above, we believe the legislation would have dangerous consequences for women and infants. New York’s abortion numbers have been steadily decreasing, from 118,381 reported induced abortions in 2008 to 93,299 reported induced abortions in 2014, according to the most recent report of the NYS Department of Health. We believe this misguided legislation would reverse this encouraging trend and only increase the tragedy of abortion.

We urge you to pause to consider the curious paradox created by this legislation: In one unit of your public hospital, physicians will be taking extreme measures and heroic actions to save the lives of prematurely delivered viable infants, while in another unit, an abortionist will be destroying infants of the very same age, viable babies who could very well survive outside the womb. Can we, as a society, comfortably live with such arbitrary distinctions and callous inconsistencies regarding who lives and who dies?

We strongly urge you to oppose this legislation.

Article source: http://www.nyscatholic.org/2018/01/a-1748-glick-s-2796-krueger-in-relation-to-abortion-expansion/

A.2646-A, Simotas / S.3148-A, Savino: In relation to an insurance mandate for in vitro fertilization

Published on January 8th, 2018

Memorandum of Opposition

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.2646/S.3148.

Article source: http://www.nyscatholic.org/2018/01/mandate-for-in-vitro-fertilization/

A.7637-A, Crespo / S.6009-A, Ranzenhofer: In relation to including private and religious schools in school energy efficiency collaboration programs

Published on January 8th, 2018

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: http://www.nyscatholic.org/2018/01/a-7637-a-crespo-s-6009-a-ranzenhofer-in-relation-to-including-private-and-religious-schools-in-school-energy-efficiency-collaboration-programs/

Catholic Conference statement on the death of JJ Hanson

Published on December 30th, 2017

James “JJ” Hanson, an outspoken advocate for patients rights and against physician-assisted suicide, died of brain cancer today at the age of 36. Mr. Hanson, a Hudson Valley resident, retired Marine and a one-time member of the administration of former Gov. David A. Paterson, leaves behind his wife, Kristen, and two young sons, James and Lucas.

For nearly three years, he has worked closely with the New York State Catholic Conference and the New York Alliance Against Assisted Suicide to educate others about the dangers of doctor-assisted suicide and the compelling alternatives for patients facing terminal illness, using the power of his own story to change hearts and minds. When first diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme, doctors gave JJ four months to live, but he kept fighting, kept seeking out new treatments, and channeled his personal tragedy into advocacy in defense of the sacredness of all human life.

“Initially, JJ’s doctors offered him no hope, but he and Kristen had hope in abundance,” said Kathleen M. Gallagher, director of pro-life activities for the New York State Catholic Conference, who became close to the Hanson family. “He outlived that death sentence by more than three years, giving hope and inspiration to thousands of people during that time.

“He reached out to doctors, veterans groups and other organizations, persuaded lawmakers and journalists, raised funds for cancer research, traveled to Albany, Washington, D.C., and states all across the country, and took every opportunity to promote compassionate life-affirming care for persons facing disease and disability. And he did that while facing tremendous health hurdles, undergoing surgeries and treatments, and caring for his family.

“JJ lived his motto: ‘Every day is a gift, and you can’t ever let that go.’ He and Kristen are a true testament to living their faith through adversity, and JJ’s death is a loving example of an authentic ‘death with dignity.’ We are so grateful to Kristen and the boys for sharing JJ with us these last three years and enabling him to touch so many lives. We pray for their comfort and solace in this very difficult time.”

Article source: http://www.nyscatholic.org/2017/12/jj-hanson/

Statement on veto of nonpublic school aid bill

Published on December 19th, 2017

Last night, the New York State Catholic Conference was informed that Governor Andrew Cuomo vetoed legislation (S.6089) that would have averted cuts in state reimbursements to Catholic and other nonpublic schools. The cuts are based on the state changing a nearly four-decade-old formula for calculating reimbursement.

“The Bishops of New York State are extremely disappointed in Governor Cuomo’s veto of this bipartisan bill,” said James D. Cultrara, director for education of the New York State Catholic Conference. “The governor’s action will have serious impact on our schools and to the tuition-paying families who must absorb cuts in reimbursement aid, even as public school funding soars to new record heights every year.

“The Senate and Assembly first included this measure in both of their one-house budget proposals, but it was not enacted in the final budget. This necessitated the passage of the bill in separate legislation by both houses, in the Senate by a unanimous vote of 63-0 and in the Assembly by a vote of 133-6. This overwhelming support in the legislature makes the Governor’s action all the more disheartening to our Catholic school communities.

“We will continue our advocacy to ensure that the four-decade-old basis for reimbursement is restored, and that our schools get their fair share of reimbursement for providing state-mandated services.”

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

Article source: http://www.nyscatholic.org/2017/12/statement-on-veto-of-nonpublic-school-aid-bill/

Assisted suicide decision slider

Published on September 7th, 2017

Following is a statement of Kathleen M. Gallagher, director of pro-life activities for the New York State Catholic Conference:

“We are pleased and grateful for today’s unanimous Court of Appeals ruling in Myers vs. Schneiderman. The Court has wisely determined that New York’s law prohibiting assisted suicide applies to everyone, including those physicians who may wish to assist in their patients’ deaths. ‘There are no exceptions, and the statutes are unqualified in scope…,’ the Court said.

“Moreover, the Court ruled that there is an important and logical distinction between refusing life-sustaining treatment and actively assisting in suicide, a distinction our Catholic tradition has always recognized.

“The decision is a significant victory for those who would be most at risk of abuse and most susceptible to pressure to take their own lives, including the isolated elderly, persons with disabilities, and those who are depressed and overcome with hopelessness.

“Twenty years ago, in Vacco vs. Quill, the United States Supreme Court declared that physician-assisted suicide is not a constitutional right and, with this decision, the New York State Court of Appeals agrees.”

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

Article source: http://www.nyscatholic.org/2017/09/assisted-suicide-decision/

Statement on Court of Appeals decision in assisted suicide case

Published on September 7th, 2017

Following is a statement of Kathleen M. Gallagher, director of pro-life activities for the New York State Catholic Conference:

“We are pleased and grateful for today’s unanimous Court of Appeals ruling in Myers vs. Schneiderman. The Court has wisely determined that New York’s law prohibiting assisted suicide applies to everyone, including those physicians who may wish to assist in their patients’ deaths. ‘There are no exceptions, and the statutes are unqualified in scope…,’ the Court said.

“Moreover, the Court ruled that there is an important and logical distinction between refusing life-sustaining treatment and actively assisting in suicide, a distinction our Catholic tradition has always recognized.

“The decision is a significant victory for those who would be most at risk of abuse and most susceptible to pressure to take their own lives, including the isolated elderly, persons with disabilities, and those who are depressed and overcome with hopelessness.

“Twenty years ago, in Vacco vs. Quill, the United States Supreme Court declared that physician-assisted suicide is not a constitutional right and, with this decision, the New York State Court of Appeals agrees.”

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

Article source: http://www.nyscatholic.org/2017/09/assisted-suicide-decision/

DACA slider




Article source: https://www.votervoice.net/NYSCATHOLIC/campaigns/54270/respond

NYS Catholic Conference Statement on DACA

Published on September 5th, 2017

Following is a statement by Richard E. Barnes, executive director of the New York State Catholic Conference regarding DACA:

“Today’s announcement by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions that the Trump Administration is rescinding the Obama-era Executive Order known as DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) is cause for great concern and anxiety for nearly 800,000 beneficiaries of the program, including an estimated 42,000 of our fellow New Yorkers.

“While the federal government has the right and duty to protect and secure our borders, the individuals who benefitted from DACA have done nothing wrong. The Dreamers were brought to this country as children by their parents. For many, they have known no other home.
 
“Although the President has signaled that he would like Congress to act to address the matter legislatively, there are no guarantees that this will happen. And, in the meantime, men, women and children who want nothing other than to do their part to make America great are instead being forced back into the shadows, fearful of being deported to a foreign land.

“The Catholic Church in New York State stands with the Dreamers, and we urge our Congressional representatives to take the lead in delivering a bill to President Trump’s desk, so that he can fulfill an earlier promise to deal with this issue with ‘great heart.’”


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

Article source: http://www.nyscatholic.org/2017/09/daca/

A.2293, Morelle: In Relation to the Sale of Monuments

Published on June 6th, 2017

Memorandum of Opposition

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 they fill up 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.

The legislature as part of this year’s budget decided to make monuments exempt from all sales and use taxes. By doing so in part WW of Chapter 59 of the Laws of 2017 the argument that was the basis for this legislation has been met. There is now a level playing field as monument sellers will no longer have to pay tax on the monuments they sell.

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.

New York is one of only four states that prohibit the sale of monuments by cemeteries. The other 46 states recognize that in addition to providing revenues necessary to maintain the cemetery, an additional outlet provides an important consumer protection by promoting competition. Furthermore, the monument business is completely unregulated except that not-for-profit cemeteries cannot sell monuments. In addition, funeral directors, many of whom partner with monument dealers, or sell on their own, have virtually no experience in designing, selling, or installing memorials.

There is no valid reason to restrict monument sales. The Internal Revenue Service has ruled that “decorating or marking burial sites with monuments … is so closely related to burial purposes that it is necessarily incident to those purposes when the markers or decorations are used solely within that cemetery and profits from their sale do no inure to shareholders” and does not affect the exempt status of the cemetery.

Importantly, this legislation is more restrictive than statutes regulating other cemetery operators. This bill would prohibit the sale of monuments, memorials, gravestones or markers, not including flush bronze markers. The bill is much more restrictive than current statutes for not-for-profit cemeteries, which simply prohibits the sale of monuments, and permits the sale of granite markers in some areas.  The proposed legislation also lacks a cogent definition of memorials, gravestones, or markers. Questions of whether lettering or inscription of mausoleum crypt shutters are a memorial or marker, if a statue or bench is a memorial or marker, or if the planting of a tree is a memorial, or if installing a bronze memorial on a granite base is permissible, all are left open to interpretation and cloud any aim this bill may have.

Additionally, General Municipal Law, County Law, Town Law, and Village Law, all of which have provisions regulating cemeteries, place no restrictions on the sale of monuments, markers, or memorials by municipalities. Thus because religious cemeteries are treated differently than non-religious municipal cemeteries, a due process issue arises, as does a possible constitutional problem.

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. There is a misconception that if cemeteries were to engage in the sale of monuments, they would “corner the market” on the monument business. This is simply not true. If families have a long term relationship with a monument dealer or funeral director, in most cases, they will continue to maintain that relationship. Currently, cemeteries in Western New York, both religious and not-for-profit, have the ability to sell both granite and bronze lawn-level markers.  It does not seem reasonable, therefore, to allow a cemetery to sell a flat marker but prohibit the same cemetery from selling an upright monument.

Catholic Cemeteries of the Roman Catholic Dioceses of Syracuse, Buffalo, and Albany have been successfully selling monuments to Catholic families served by their cemeteries since the Diocese of Syracuse began in May of 2009. The response from those to whom the diocese has provided memorials to has been resoundingly positive. There is no good reason to prevent these cemeteries from providing this service and, at the same time, protecting their future.

Article source: http://www.nyscatholic.org/2017/06/a-2293-morelle-in-relation-to-the-sale-of-monuments/

A.8178, Hevesi: In Relation to Home Stability Support Programs

Published on June 6th, 2017

Memorandum of Support

It is unacceptable that the Empire State has more than 150,000 homeless children and another 80,000 families on the brink of homelessness. It is even more shocking that 19,000 more children become homeless each year.

The New York State Catholic Conference supports this legislation.

The existing shelter allowance is woefully inadequate compared to the actual cost of housing where two-thirds of public assistance households are living in housing whose rents significantly exceed their shelter allowances. More than 82,000 households have rents that are 1.5 times or more than their shelter allowance. Nearly 21,000 households have rents that are 2.5 times their shelter allowances. As a result, many families are being forced into homelessness at no fault of their own.

The Home Stability Support (HSS) program is a fiscally responsible solution to this problem. The HSS program, as outlined in the above-named legislation, will:

  • Keep families and individuals on public assistance in their homes and out of homeless shelters;
  • Reduce costs to the state and taxpayers by preventing evictions, reducing emergency shelter utilization and reducing costs of other homeless services; and
  • Provide relief to financially strapped counties.

Through the use of a new Shelter Supplement, which will support between 85 percent and 100 percent of the fair market rent, families will be able to afford to stay in their homes and not be forced to live in shelters or on the street. In addition to the shelter supplement, eligible recipients will also receive home stability support services to avoid homelessness and achieve long term housing stability.

The Council of Catholic Charities Directors and the New York State Catholic Conference enthusiastically supports passage of this bill.

Article source: http://www.nyscatholic.org/2017/06/a-8178-hevesi-in-relation-to-home-stability-support-programs/

S.6089, Marcellino / A.7833, Cusick: In Relation to the Calculation of Nonpublic School Aid

Published on June 5th, 2017

Memorandum of Support

The above-referenced legislation would clarify that the State Education Department may continue to utilize the nearly four decades old “instructional time” standard as the basis for providing reimbursement to nonpublic schools for their participation in the mandated services aid program.

The New York State Catholic Conference supports this measure and strongly urges enactment of this legislation.

Mandated Services Aid (MSA) was enacted in 1974 as a way for the state to support nonpublic schools which educate nearly 500,000 students across the state. In the late 1970’s, the State Education Department established a series of “parameters” or formulas to simplify the administration of the program and to ensure the program was fair to both taxpayers and the nonpublic schools. One set of parameters called for the use of “instructional time” in determining the “average hourly rate” of the employees involved in complying with the various mandates. SED justified the use of instructional time because it is associated with the compulsory education requirement, has been used continuously over the years as the basis for aid to public schools and it provides consistency and predictability in aid to nonpublic schools.

Instructional time equates to 5 hours of instruction per day for grades K-6, 5.5 hours per day for grades 6-12, as well as 180 days in the school year. Nonpublic schools are required to provide a substantial equivalent amount of the instructional hours and days as are required of public schools. In recent years, in an effort to be more exacting in the administration of the program, SED began scrutinizing the calendars and schedules of select nonpublic schools and required those schools to use additional hours and days in the calculation of their aid – resulting in a reduction of aid. Numerous schools were forced to accept the aid cut in order to receive the desperately needed balance of their reimbursement.

The 2016-17 enacted State Budget included language to permit schools to continue to receive aid based on a 5 / 5.5 hour school day – averting an approximate 20 percent cut in aid to the schools under review. The 2016 language, however, addressed only the “hours of the day” and did not explicitly reference the “days of the year.” While the provisions of the above-referenced legislation were included in both the Assembly and Senate one-house Aid to Localities bills, it was not adopted in the final state budget.

This legislation is necessary to ensure that religious and independent schools do not receive a cut in aid, especially as state support aid to public and charter schools is increasing. The New York State Catholic Conference urges enactment of this measure as soon as possible to ensure that aid applications (which have been held by SED) can be processed and that desperately needed payments can be made to schools.

Article source: http://www.nyscatholic.org/2017/06/s-6089-marcellino-a-7833-cusick-in-relation-to-the-calculation-of-nonpublic-school-aid/

A.5885-A (Rosenthal): In relation to civil and criminal changes to the statute of limitations in cases of child sexual abuse

Published on June 5th, 2017

Memorandum of Opposition

The Catholic Church has zero tolerance for sexual abuse and supports proposals in the New York State Legislature to extend the time allowed under the law to file criminal charges or civil lawsuits against those who abuse children.

Sexual abuse is a societal scourge. It knows no boundaries. Protecting children from sexual abuse and safeguarding the legal rights of victims requires a comprehensive approach. While the Catholic Conference strongly supports efforts to prospectively increase the criminal and civil statute of limitations for child sexual abuse, the above-referenced legislation is seriously flawed in that it contains a statute of limitations “window” to open up previously time-barred civil claims going back indefinitely against not only abusers themselves, but against their employers as well. Therefore, the Catholic Conference must strongly oppose this legislation.

This extraordinary provision would force institutions to defend alleged conduct decades ago about which they have no knowledge, and in which they had no role, potentially involving employees long retired, dead or infirm, based on information long lost, if it ever existed. To be clear, the sponsors’ intent is to allow claims from even the 1940s or 1950s to be resurrected.

Statutes of limitation are an essential protection of American law because they ensure that claims can be fairly adjudicated in a timely manner based on credible evidence. The New York State Bar Association has said:

Over time, evidence is lost or destroyed and witnesses die or become unavailable or, when they are available, their memories are less reliable. These circumstances make proof and defense of such actions extremely difficult, if not impossible, for all parties involved. (New York State Bar Association’s Committee on Civil Practice Law and Rules Legislative Report #8, Feb. 25, 2003)

Moreover, this bill is seriously flawed in that it only raises the criminal statute of limitations by five years, until the victim-survivor’s 28th birthday. At the same time, it raises the civil statute of limitations until the victim-survivor’s 50th birthday, in addition to a retroactive window that allows old lawsuits to be brought no matter how long ago the incident occurred. Clearly the bill’s focus on lawsuits against organizations, rather than punishing predators and removing them from our communities, does not in any way achieve a goal of protecting children today or in the future.

While some legislative and policy disagreements about the ideal approach continue, New York State continues to make laudable progress in protecting children. The criminal statute of limitations on charges of rape or felony sexual abuse of a child has been eliminated. These crimes are now treated with the same gravity as murder.

Still more can and should be done. Currently under consideration is an omnibus child protection bill sponsored by Assembly Member Michael Cusick (D-Staten Island) that would extend the civil statute of limitations for sexual abuse lawsuits another five years to the victim’s 28thbirthday, and would apply equally to public and private institutions. The Cusick bill also eliminates the criminal statute entirely, adds clergy to the list of mandated reporters, and requires criminal background checks for all employees and volunteers who work with children in either public or not-for-profit settings. The Catholic Conference strong supports the Cusick bill as the best legislative remedy available to protect children from abuse today and to give victims more time to seek justice, both criminally and civilly.

To reiterate, while we are in agreement with aspects of A.5885-A, the ill-advised “window” to reopen decades-old claims is, in the end, contrary to justice, because simply too much time has gone by in many cases to mount an effective defense, particularly for institutional defendants. We therefore urge the bill be defeated, and for the legislature to instead pass the NYS Child Protection Act (A.7302).

Article source: http://www.nyscatholic.org/2017/06/rosenthal_cva/

A.5885-A, Rosenthal / S.6575, Hoylman: In relation to civil and criminal changes to the statute of limitations in cases of child sexual abuse

Published on June 5th, 2017

Memorandum of Opposition

The Catholic Church has zero tolerance for sexual abuse and supports proposals in the New York State Legislature to extend the time allowed under the law to file criminal charges or civil lawsuits against those who abuse children.

Sexual abuse is a societal scourge. It knows no boundaries. Protecting children from sexual abuse and safeguarding the legal rights of victims requires a comprehensive approach. While the Catholic Conference strongly supports efforts to prospectively increase the criminal and civil statute of limitations for child sexual abuse, the above-referenced legislation is seriously flawed in that it contains a statute of limitations “window” to open up previously time-barred civil claims going back indefinitely against not only abusers themselves, but against their employers as well. Therefore, the Catholic Conference must strongly oppose this legislation.

This extraordinary provision would force institutions to defend alleged conduct decades ago about which they have no knowledge, and in which they had no role, potentially involving employees long retired, dead or infirm, based on information long lost, if it ever existed. To be clear, the sponsors’ intent is to allow claims from even the 1940s or 1950s to be resurrected.

Statutes of limitation are an essential protection of American law because they ensure that claims can be fairly adjudicated in a timely manner based on credible evidence. The New York State Bar Association has said:

Over time, evidence is lost or destroyed and witnesses die or become unavailable or, when they are available, their memories are less reliable. These circumstances make proof and defense of such actions extremely difficult, if not impossible, for all parties involved. (New York State Bar Association’s Committee on Civil Practice Law and Rules Legislative Report #8, Feb. 25, 2003)

Moreover, this bill is seriously flawed in that it only raises the criminal statute of limitations by five years, until the victim-survivor’s 28th birthday. At the same time, it raises the civil statute of limitations until the victim-survivor’s 50th birthday, in addition to a retroactive window that allows old lawsuits to be brought no matter how long ago the incident occurred. Clearly the bill’s focus on lawsuits against organizations, rather than punishing predators and removing them from our communities, does not in any way achieve a goal of protecting children today or in the future.

While some legislative and policy disagreements about the ideal approach continue, New York State continues to make laudable progress in protecting children. The criminal statute of limitations on charges of rape or felony sexual abuse of a child has been eliminated. These crimes are now treated with the same gravity as murder.

Still more can and should be done. Currently under consideration is an omnibus child protection bill sponsored by Assembly Member Michael Cusick (D-Staten Island) that would extend the civil statute of limitations for sexual abuse lawsuits another five years to the victim’s 28thbirthday, and would apply equally to public and private institutions. The Cusick bill also eliminates the criminal statute entirely, adds clergy to the list of mandated reporters, and requires criminal background checks for all employees and volunteers who work with children in either public or not-for-profit settings. The Catholic Conference strong supports the Cusick bill as the best legislative remedy available to protect children from abuse today and to give victims more time to seek justice, both criminally and civilly.

To reiterate, while we are in agreement with aspects of A.5885-A, the ill-advised “window” to reopen decades-old claims is, in the end, contrary to justice, because simply too much time has gone by in many cases to mount an effective defense, particularly for institutional defendants. We therefore urge the bill be defeated, and for the legislature to instead pass the NYS Child Protection Act (A.7302).

Article source: http://www.nyscatholic.org/2017/06/rosenthal_cva/

S.6722, Governor’s Program Bill / A.5885-A, Rosenthal / S.6575, Hoylman: In relation to civil and criminal changes to the statute of limitations in cases of child sexual abuse

Published on June 5th, 2017

Memorandum of Opposition

The Catholic Church has zero tolerance for sexual abuse and supports proposals in the New York State Legislature to extend the time allowed under the law to file criminal charges or civil lawsuits against those who abuse children.

Sexual abuse is a societal scourge. It knows no boundaries. Protecting children from sexual abuse and safeguarding the legal rights of victims requires a comprehensive approach. While the Catholic Conference strongly supports efforts to prospectively increase the criminal and civil statute of limitations for child sexual abuse, the above-referenced legislation is seriously flawed in that it contains a statute of limitations “window” to open up previously time-barred civil claims going back indefinitely against not only abusers themselves, but against their employers as well. Therefore, the Catholic Conference must strongly oppose this legislation.

This extraordinary provision would force institutions to defend alleged conduct decades ago about which they have no knowledge, and in which they had no role, potentially involving employees long retired, dead or infirm, based on information long lost, if it ever existed. To be clear, the sponsors’ intent is to allow claims from even the 1940s or 1950s to be resurrected.

Statutes of limitation are an essential protection of American law because they ensure that claims can be fairly adjudicated in a timely manner based on credible evidence. The New York State Bar Association has said:

Over time, evidence is lost or destroyed and witnesses die or become unavailable or, when they are available, their memories are less reliable. These circumstances make proof and defense of such actions extremely difficult, if not impossible, for all parties involved. (New York State Bar Association’s Committee on Civil Practice Law and Rules Legislative Report #8, Feb. 25, 2003)

Moreover, this bill is seriously flawed in that it only raises the criminal statute of limitations by five years, until the victim-survivor’s 28th birthday. At the same time, it raises the civil statute of limitations until the victim-survivor’s 50th birthday, in addition to a retroactive window that allows old lawsuits to be brought no matter how long ago the incident occurred. Clearly the bill’s focus on lawsuits against organizations, rather than punishing predators and removing them from our communities, does not in any way achieve a goal of protecting children today or in the future.

While some legislative and policy disagreements about the ideal approach continue, New York State continues to make laudable progress in protecting children. The criminal statute of limitations on charges of rape or felony sexual abuse of a child has been eliminated. These crimes are now treated with the same gravity as murder.

Still more can and should be done. Currently under consideration is an omnibus child protection bill sponsored by Assembly Member Michael Cusick (D-Staten Island) that would extend the civil statute of limitations for sexual abuse lawsuits another five years to the victim’s 28thbirthday, and would apply equally to public and private institutions. The Cusick bill also eliminates the criminal statute entirely, adds clergy to the list of mandated reporters, and requires criminal background checks for all employees and volunteers who work with children in either public or not-for-profit settings. The Catholic Conference strong supports the Cusick bill as the best legislative remedy available to protect children from abuse today and to give victims more time to seek justice, both criminally and civilly.

To reiterate, while we are in agreement with aspects of A.5885-A, the ill-advised “window” to reopen decades-old claims is, in the end, contrary to justice, because simply too much time has gone by in many cases to mount an effective defense, particularly for institutional defendants. We therefore urge the bill be defeated, and for the legislature to instead pass the NYS Child Protection Act (A.7302).

Article source: http://www.nyscatholic.org/2017/06/rosenthal_cva/

S.5751-A, Golden / A.8121, Gjonaj: In relation to establishing September 4 as “Mother Teresa Remembrance Day”

Published on June 2nd, 2017

Memorandum of Support

The above-referenced legislation would establish September 4 as Mother Teresa Remembrance Day in New York State, commemorating the date of her canonization as a saint by Pope Francis on September 4, 2016.

The New York State Catholic Conference supports the legislation as a fitting tribute to one of the most remarkable figures of the 20th century.

St. Teresa of Calcutta, known during her lifetime as Mother Teresa, was an Albanian-born nun and missionary, who spent decades personally ministering to the poorest of the poor in Calcutta (Kolkata) in the Indian State of West Bengal. She is the founder of a worldwide order of nuns, the Missionaries of Charity, who carry on her work to this day in cities across the world, including the Bronx, where they operate Queen of Peace Residence, serving drug addicts, homeless men and women, people with AIDS and unwed mothers, as well as operating soup kitchens, providing emergency shelter, teaching religious education in poor parishes and visiting needy families.

In 1979, Mother Teresa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, recognizing this humble nun with one of the world’s most prestigious honors. After her death in 1997, Pope John Paul II, now a saint himself, waived three years of the five-year waiting period for sainthood causes and authorized the beginning of the beatification process. On December 17, 2015, the Vatican confirmed that Pope Francis officially recognized a second miracle attributed to the intercession of Mother Teresa, clearing the way for her canonization, which took place in Rome at St. Peter’s Square on September 4, 2016.

“I think, perhaps, we may have some difficulty in calling her St. Teresa: Her holiness is so near to us, so tender and so fruitful, that we continue to spontaneously call her Mother Teresa,” the pope said in her canonization ceremony.

We are grateful to the sponsors for their recognition of Mother Teresa of Calcutta and her heroic virtue, and we strongly support this bill to honor her life and work.

Article source: http://www.nyscatholic.org/2017/06/s-5751-a-golden-a-8121-gjonaj-in-relation-to-establishing-september-4-as-mother-teresa-remembrance-day/

A.5885 (Rosenthal): In relation to civil and criminal changes to the statute of limitations in cases of child sexual abuse

Published on June 1st, 2017

Memorandum of Opposition

The Catholic Church has zero tolerance for sexual abuse and supports proposals in the New York State Legislature to extend the time allowed under the law to file criminal charges or civil lawsuits against those who abuse children.

Sexual abuse is a societal scourge. It knows no boundaries. Protecting children from sexual abuse and safeguarding the legal rights of victims requires a comprehensive approach. While the Catholic Conference strongly supports efforts to prospectively increase the criminal and civil statute of limitations for child sexual abuse, the above-referenced legislation is seriously flawed in that it contains a statute of limitations “window” to open up previously time-barred civil claims going back indefinitely. Therefore, the Catholic Conference must strongly oppose this legislation.

This extraordinary provision would force institutions to defend alleged conduct decades ago about which they have no knowledge, and in which they had no role, potentially involving employees long retired, dead or infirm, based on information long lost, if it ever existed. To be clear, the sponsors’ intent is to allow claims from even the 1940s or 1950s to be resurrected.

Statutes of limitation are an essential protection of American law because they ensure that claims can be fairly adjudicated in a timely manner based on credible evidence. The New York State Bar Association has said:

Over time, evidence is lost or destroyed and witnesses die or become unavailable or, when they are available, their memories are less reliable. These circumstances make proof and defense of such actions extremely difficult, if not impossible, for all parties involved. (New York State Bar Association’s Committee on Civil Practice Law and Rules Legislative Report #8, Feb. 25, 2003)

While some legislative and policy disagreements about the ideal approach continue, New York State continues to make laudable progress in protecting children. The criminal statute of limitations on charges of rape or felony sexual abuse of a child has been eliminated. These crimes are now treated with the same gravity as murder.

Still more can and should be done. Currently under consideration is an omnibus child protection bill sponsored by Assembly Member Michael Cusick (D-Staten Island) and Sen. Andrew Lanza (R-Staten Island)  that would extend the civil statute of limitations for sexual abuse lawsuits another five years to the victim’s 28th birthday, and would apply equally to public and private institutions. The bipartisan Cusick/Lanza bill also eliminates the criminal statute entirely, adds clergy to the list of mandated reporters, and requires criminal background checks for all employees and volunteers who work with children in either public or not-for-profit settings.  The Catholic Conference strong supports the Cusick bill as the best legislative remedy available to protect children from abuse today and to give victims more time to seek justice, both criminally and civilly.

To reiterate, while we are in agreement with aspects of A.5885, the ill-advised “window” to reopen decades-old claims is, in the end, contrary to justice, because simply too much time has gone by in many cases to mount an effective defense, particularly for institutional defendants. We therefore urge the bill be defeated, and for the legislature to instead pass the NYS Child Protection Act (A.7302/S.5660).

Article source: http://www.nyscatholic.org/2017/06/rosenthal_cva/

S.2412-B, DeFrancisco / A.5285-A, Perry: In relation to establishing the Commission on Prosecutorial Conduct

Published on May 22nd, 2017

Memorandum of Support

The above-referenced legislation would establish the Commission on Prosecutorial Conduct. This Commission would be modeled after the State Commission on Judicial Conduct and would establish acceptable standards and reasonable accountability for prosecutors as they carry out their duties and responsibilities.

The New York State Catholic Conference supports the establishment of the State Commission on Prosecutorial Conduct, and strongly urges enactment of this legislation.

The bill is an attempt to provide a mechanism for ensuring a fair process for monitoring prosecutorial conduct. The Commission would consist of eleven members appointed by the Governor, Legislative Leaders and the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals. It would further enhance a fair judicial process by establishing and enforcing clear prosecutorial standards. The Commission would be a check on excesses of prosecutorial discretion and protect the liberty interest of defendants.

The Commission on Judicial Conduct has successfully served to ensure that individual rights are not being violated by the judiciary and a similar entity needs to be put in place to ensure that prosecutors are exhibiting appropriate conduct. These Commissions serve to maintain a balance that can only serve to engender greater confidence in our criminal justice system and protect the integrity of that system.

The Catholic Conference has long advocated for reforms of the criminal justice system that protect the rights of the accused and the interest of those who have been victimized. This legislation is consistent with those efforts. It is in no one’s interest for individuals to be wrongly convicted or for guilty parties to not be held accountable as a result of inappropriate conduct on the part of prosecutors. Prosecutors have a duty to pursue justice and establishing standards in support of that goal benefits the legal system and society as a whole.

The proposed Commission will allow the public a forum for voicing concerns that does not currently exist and monitor appropriate standards of behavior across the state. An impartial arbiter can place checks on unfair practices and support prosecutors when no wrongdoing has occurred.

Article source: http://www.nyscatholic.org/2017/05/s-2412-b-defrancisco-a-5285-a-perry-in-relation-to-establishing-the-commission-on-prosecutorial-conduct/

S.17-A, Hoylman / A.6959-A, Paulin: In relation to gestational surrogacy agreements or “collaborative reproduction”

Published on May 22nd, 2017

Memorandum of Opposition

The above-referenced bill would undo New York’s longstanding prohibition of compensated surrogate parenting contracts. It would thereby encourage the buying and selling of children and the outsourcing of motherhood. The New York State Catholic Conference opposes this bill.

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.

Importantly, this policy was signed into law in 1992 by then-Governor Mario M. Cuomo, at the unanimous recommendation of the NYS Task Force on Life and the Law, with bipartisan legislative support and endorsements from advocacy organizations as disparate as the National Organization of Women and the State Catholic Conference.

What distinguishes surrogacy from other reproductive technologies is not the technology itself but the circumstances of its application – it is a contractual arrangement whereby a woman bears a child for another, with the intent of relinquishing that infant at birth. The arrangement compels an unnatural act: telling a mother not to bond with the baby she bears in her womb. In all other areas, society requires parents to take full responsibility for their children. Parents are obligated by law to provide for the financial, educational, social and health-related security of their children.

We believe that undoing New York’s ban on commercial surrogacy contracts will lead to:

  • The treatment of human beings as commodities. A baby is not a consumer product to be bought or sold based on the supply and demand of the economy.
  • Increased fracturing of families. The very term “collaborative reproduction,” defined in this legislation, undermines the dignity of marriage and the sacredness of the family. When any sperm, egg and uterus can be ‘combined’ to ‘make’ a baby, the potential exists for a child to have up to five parents. Donor-conceived children may never know their true biological origins or experience the natural parent-child bond. The personal testimonies found at www.anonymousus.org highlight the confusion, pain, loss and abandonment felt by many of these children.
  • Abuse of the poor. New York State law prohibits donating an organ for profit; why is renting a womb and purchasing the “reproductive product” any different? Those who live in dire poverty do not have genuine “freedom of choice” in making a decision to carry another’s child. Many are 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.
  • The exploitation of women. 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 surrogacy is not without serious health risks to women, who must receive multiple injections of synthetic hormones for embryonic implantation, some of which have not been approved by the FDA for fertility use. It would be shameful for New York, which has made great strides in combatting the scourge of sex trafficking, to give the green light to yet another form of human trafficking.
  • Economic considerations overriding all others. As assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) are increasingly commercialized, there is increased likelihood that economic incentives will override the practical and moral considerations of these practices. We believe that commercialization will lead to an increased drive for “made-to-order babies,” an increased drive to pre-select the sex of infants, and an increased reliance on “fetal reduction,” (the practice of eliminating too many infants in the womb in multiple pregnancies), even as the medical community is moving in the opposite direction, to decrease the number of embryos transferred in any one ART cycle.

Moreover, it is our understanding that the New York State Task Force on Life and the Law is currently re-examining this issue. At a minimum, it would be premature for the legislature to act prior to the recommendations of the Task Force.

The Catholic Church recognizes the legitimacy of the desire for a child and empathizes with married couples struggling with infertility. We continue to promote morally acceptable fertility techniques, to encourage and facilitate adoptions, and to hold these families in prayer. But, as outlined in the consequences listed above, we believe that this legislation fosters grave violations of human rights and human dignity. It is not in the best interests of children, marriage, families or society. We urge you to oppose it.

Article source: http://www.nyscatholic.org/2017/05/s-17-a-hoylman-a-6959-a-paulin-in-relation-to-gestational-surrogacy-agreements-or-collaborative-reproduction/

S.1070, Rivera / A.2705, Gottfried: In relation to establishing a sex education grant program

Published on May 22nd, 2017

Memorandum of Opposition

The above-referenced legislation would establish a new dedicated funding stream for comprehensive contraceptive sex education programs for all age levels in New York State.

The New York State Catholic Conference opposes this bill.

This legislation would create a new funding mechanism to direct taxpayer dollars toward select organizations such as Planned Parenthood to ensure “comprehensive” sex education programs, promoting all contraceptive methods at undefined “age appropriate” grade levels. These programs would be in schools and other settings.

Funding streams already exist in New York State which allocate millions of taxpayer dollars for contraceptive and sex education programs.

Moreover, the State Education Department already mandates health education and HIV/AIDS education in all schools, which is taught by existing instructional staff. Education in human sexuality is clearly covered by these statutory mandates. This legislation would encourage outside advocacy organizations, relying on state taxpayer dollars, to move into the classrooms to promote an extreme “comprehensive” contraceptive agenda. Parents want their children’s public school classes to focus on basic skills of reading, writing and arithmetic. We believe that parents do not want their children’s public school classes to be turned into preparatory courses on casual sexual intercourse, with encouragement to use birth control and experiment in sexual decision-making.

The rate of teenage sexual activity in our state is unacceptable. The legislature should resist creating new funding streams for programs which continue to fail the children and families of New York State.

For the above-noted reasons, the New York State Catholic Conference urges you to reject this legislation.

Article source: http://www.nyscatholic.org/2017/05/s-1070-rivera-a-2705-gottfried-in-relation-to-establishing-a-sex-education-grant-program/

S.159, Rivera / A.3693, Glick: In relation to additional state aid for Planned Parenthood clinics

Published on May 22nd, 2017

Memorandum of Opposition

This bill seeks to make Planned Parenthood clinics in New York State eligible to receive funding from the Hospital Bad Debt and Charity Care Pool, which was established in 1983 to underwrite a portion of hospital losses associated with uncompensated care to the indigent and uninsured. The New York State Catholic Conference opposes this legislation and urges that it be defeated.

The recently enacted 2017-2018 state budget contains more than $20 million in state funding for “family planning services,” the vast majority of which will be appropriated to Planned Parenthood clinics. Additional state taxpayer funds flow to these clinics for “adolescent pregnancy prevention programs,” “health and sexuality-related programs,” sexually transmitted disease testing, and more. In addition to these line items, Planned Parenthood clinics enjoy expanded Medicaid eligibility for their clients, and, if adopted, newly proposed Department of Financial Services regulations will mandate cost-free insurance coverage for contraceptives and abortions. We respectfully suggest that additional moneys to this provider are not warranted.

Planned Parenthood is the largest abortion provider in the United States, with 323,999 reported abortions performed at clinics around the country in 2015. Planned Parenthood’s share of the abortion market has expanded steadily; in 2005 it performed one in five of all abortions, but now it performs one in three. In 2010, Planned Parenthood announced that by 2013 every affiliate must have one or more clinics that perform abortions on-site.

In addition to abortion, Planned Parenthood also provides birth control services and STD testing. But Planned Parenthood is not a primary health care provider: by its own admission, Planned Parenthood clinics do not provide breast cancer screenings, and the vast majority of clinics do not provide prenatal care for pregnant women. In fact, Planned Parenthood provides almost 17 times more abortions than birth-related services for its pregnant clients.

Nationally in 2015, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) served 2.5 million clients (women and men) and performed 323,999 abortions, meaning that nearly 13 percent of everyone entering a Planned Parenthood clinic received an abortion. The PPFA annual report indicates it provided only 17,419 “prenatal services” and only 2,024 referrals for adoptions. This means that 94 percent of its services for pregnant women are abortions, outnumbering other options almost 17 to 1.

Because Planned Parenthood is not a primary health care provider, and because Planned Parenthood clinics already receive millions of state taxpayer dollars, it should not be eligible for additional state aid set aside for hospital-based health care for the indigent. We urge you to oppose this legislation.

Article source: http://www.nyscatholic.org/2017/05/s-159-rivera-a-3693-glick-in-relation-to-additional-state-aid-for-planned-parenthood-clinics/

S.4016, Marcellino / A.1039, Nolan: In relation to continuing education requirements for certain individuals employed by nonpublic schools

Published on May 11th, 2017

Memorandum of Support

The New York State Coalition of Independent and Religious Schools SUPPORTS this legislation.

This measure seeks to ensure that continuing education requirements apply to all holders of professional certificates in the classroom teaching service, holders of level III teaching assistant certificates, and holders of profession certificates in the educational leadership or service regardless of whether they are employed by a school district, BOCES or nonpublic school.

In the 2015 State Budget, lawmakers enacted a new section 3006-A to the Education Law to revise the continuing education requirements for all holders of teaching certificates, teaching assistance certificates, and educational leadership certificates which are valid for life (Permanent, Professional and Teaching Assistant Level III) by requiring such individuals to register with the Department every five years and to complete 100 hours of continuing teacher and leader education during the five year registration period. The section inadvertently omitted such individuals employed by nonpublic schools from the continuing education provisions. Such certified individuals employed by nonpublic schools had been subject to the previous continuing education requirements prior to this statutory change.

The applicable five-year period began July 1, 2016.

Because the State sets certification standards, it is important that continuing education requirements apply consistently to all such certified individuals so as not to create a dual standard of what constitutes certification. Furthermore, while nonpublic schools are not required to employ certified individuals, many do and believe that such an exemption places them at a disadvantage in attracting and retaining certified teachers to work in their schools. The Coalition does not want employment in their schools to serve as an impediment to individuals seeking to maintain their certification and the same level of professional development. Accordingly, this measure is necessary to clarify that continuing education requirements will continue to apply to all such currently employed certificate holders.

The NYS Coalition of Independent and Religious Schools SUPPORTS this legislation and urges its enactment as soon as possible so that continuing education hours accumulated after July 1, 2016 can be counted toward such requirement.

Article source: http://www.nyscatholic.org/2017/05/s-4016-marcellino-a-1039-nolan-in-relation-to-continuing-education-requirements-for-certain-individuals-employed-by-nonpublic-schools/