The Reproductive Health Act was passed by NYS back in January. According to the legislation, it codifies the Supreme Court’s ruling of Roe vs. Wade.
“It gives people the confidence that life as they know it won’t be changed and their rights as they know it will not be removed – and that’s very important,” said Governor Andrew Cuomo back when the law was first passed.
Sunday, more than 70 church leaders from across the state decided enough was enough. Pastors held gatherings at their churches as a way to ask forgiveness on behalf of the state for the abortion-related law.
“We’re letting Albany know that we’re opposed to the Reproductive Health Act, and also – really – we’re coming together in the spirit of prayer of repentance of the state,” said Buffalo Dream Center Pastor Eric Johns. “You know your state’s in trouble when the Governor cares more about plastic bags than the life of babies, so we think our state’s in trouble with God.”
Johns said he started organizing this event right after the bill was signed, and that he was happy with how much it grew state-wide.
“We are really urging those that voted for this and Governor Cuomo to have a change of heart,” he said. “The word repentance simply means to have a change of heart, or to have a change of direction, to look at this one more time and see what this has done.”
But those who are in support of the Reproductive Health Act believe it to be a step in the right direction for the state when it comes to women’s health. Senior Director of Public and Community Affairs for Planned Parenthood of Central & Western New York, Debora McDell-Hernandez, said when the bill was first passed, there were a lot of misconceptions.
“If people actually took the time to read what the law is and what it does, it’s about choice again,” McDell-Hernandez said. “People have a choice if necessary based on the advice that they’ve received from a medical professional and their own personal feeling.”
Besides codifying Roe v. Wade , the Reproductive Health Act also allows women access to abortion past the 24-week mark if it’s necessary to protect the mother’s life or health, or if tests show the fetus won’t survive.
“It’s a decision that someone should make, and I think it’s a decision that should be respected and valued without shame or judgement,” McDell-Hernandez said.
Pastor Johns said this was the first time he’s organized an event like this, where church leaders came together asking for forgiveness when it comes to state decisions. But he said he felt it was time because of the Reproductive Health Act.
As for state leaders, those who were in favor of this law said it was time – especially with a Republican-majority Supreme Court.
“If you reverse Roe v. Wade – which the justices have said they would do in large part – you go to a different place,” Cuomo said in January. “You make abortion illegal. We’ve gone through that in this country, and that is a frightening, frightening prospect for people. So it gives them comfort.”