LI bishop slams Cuomo on abortion rights

Bishop William Murphy conducts Christmas Mass at St.

Bishop William Murphy conducts Christmas Mass at St. Agnes Cathedral in Rockville Centre. (Dec. 25, 2012) (Credit: Howard Schnapp)

Bishop William Murphy is attacking Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's plan to strengthen abortion rights as a "radical" and godless proposal that could make New York a "haven" for late-term abortions and endanger Catholic hospitals.

In his third State of the State address last week, Cuomo, who is a Roman Catholic, pledged to fight for a "reproductive rights act" as part of a broader women's rights agenda.

"This is very disturbing," Murphy said in an interview with the National Catholic Register last week. " . . . I am convinced that the governor is espousing a position that excludes God."

Cuomo met in recent weeks with 13 advocacy groups that formed a coalition to get his new 10-step "women's agenda" equality plan enacted.

Andrea Miller, president of NARAL Pro-Choice New York, said, "This agenda is a clear articulation of what women's equality truly means."

Dennis Poust, a spokesman for the New York State Catholic Conference, said the group supported proposals such as cracking down on domestic violence, trafficking and workplace discrimination, but opposes the abortion measure.

"They shouldn't be using these other positive measures to enhance women's dignity to get an abortion bill rammed through," Poust said.

Murphy, the spiritual leader of 1.7 million Roman Catholics in the Diocese of Rockville Centre, said Cuomo's proposal could make New York "a state where late-term abortions become part of a package of 'women's rights.' "

Murphy also said Cuomo's proposal could lead to the shuttering of Catholic institutions.

"Practically, it could mean the [state's] ability to revoke operating certificates or withhold Medicaid dollars from our hospitals, of which this diocese has six on Long Island. There is the risk that the government could extend its control by finding any of our ministries, schools, charities, etc. discriminatory . . . "

Cuomo's office declined to comment on Murphy's remarks.

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