New York Governor Kathy Hochul has only been in office for a few weeks, following former Governor Andrew Cuomo’s resignation in the wake of allegations of sexual harassment. Nevertheless, Hochul is making waves by indicating her unqualified support for New York’s 2019 abortion law that permits abortion for any reason up to the moment of birth. She is so supportive, in fact, that she has written a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg worried about “misinformation” being posted by conservative news sources and pro-life people and organizations on social media, and she demands to know what Facebook is going to do about it.
“Each day, posts are liked and shared on your site that make false claims about abortion procedures and reproductive health legislation, and this misinformation has hit close to home,” Hochul writes. “An analysis of Facebook engagement between January 1 and March 20, 2019, found that four of the top 10 stories receiving the most engagement on the platform were articles about the New York State Reproductive Health act from anti-choice news sources that misrepresented the bill.”
The New York abortion law – euphemistically titled the Reproductive Health Act – was passed in January 2019. It was immediately criticized here in The Daily Citizen and elsewhere as a license to abort at any time during a woman’s pregnancy up until the moment of birth. Hochul, as other abortion supporters have done, lamely argues that the law, by its terms, only allows abortion in three circumstances: (1) The mother is within 24 weeks from the commencement of the pregnancy; (2) there is an absence of fetal viability; or (3) the abortion is necessary to protect the mother’s life or health.
Those three circumstances, Hochul asserts, supposedly mean that the New York law does not allow abortion on demand at any time during a pregnancy. At the time it was passed, the law was also defended by Snopes.com, a left-leaning fact-checker, against counter arguments by conservatives.
But as we pointed out in response to Snopes, the third reason the law specifies for an abortion – the life or health of the mother – is no restriction at all.
Anyone familiar with the 1973 Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade can recite that the decision purported to allow states to restrict abortion after viability except for “the life or health of the mother.” While Roe never defined what “health of the mother” was, the other case decided by the Supreme Court along with it – Doe v. Bolton – did.
“We agree with the District Court … that the medical judgment may be exercised in the light of all factors – physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman’s age — relevant to the wellbeing of the patient,” Justice Harry Blackmun wrote for the 7-2 majority. “All these factors may relate to health. This allows the attending physician the room he needs to make his best medical judgment. And it is room that operates for the benefit, not the disadvantage, of the pregnant woman” (emphasis added).
But that’s an exception you could drive a truck through. Under Doe’s reasoning, what abortionist is going to disagree with, and refuse, a woman who wants an abortion because she simply doesn’t want to have a baby? Answer: None.
And that brings us around to why the New York law amounts to abortion on demand for the entire duration of a pregnancy, and why the law’s purported restrictions are simply window dressing.
Nevertheless, Governor Hochul is worried that because of all the news concerning the Texas heartbeat law, Facebook should not allow posts containing “misinformation” about abortion or the New York law that “can make women in need of abortion care feel unsafe and alone.”
Hochul urges Zuckerberg to do a couple things:
- Provide information on any and all existing [Facebook] efforts to combat misinformation regarding abortion laws, procedures, and their availability.
- Take additional action to curb the spread of this misinformation, as Facebook has with information related to COVID-19, vaccines, and voting rights.
Hochul’s letter is simply a demand that Facebook take sides in the culture war by silencing those who would criticize abortion. But if Zuckerberg agrees, the voices in Congress calling for reform of protections for Big Tech in the face of such private censorship will only grow louder.
If pro-abortion supporters want to argue that abortion is a social good, or that it qualifies as “health care,” then let them make that argument via Facebook and every other social media and news organization that will provide them a platform. The old adage that the remedy for speech you don’t like is not censorship, but more and better speech, still applies. As Justice Louis Brandeis of the U.S. Supreme Court said in the 1927 case of Whitney v. California:
“Those who won our independence by revolution were not cowards. They did not fear political change. They did not exalt order at the cost of liberty. To courageous, self-reliant men, with confidence in the power of free and fearless reasoning applied through the processes of popular government, no danger flowing from speech can be deemed clear and present unless the incidence of the evil apprehended is so imminent that it may befall before there is opportunity for full discussion. If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence.”
More talk, less censorship. Those of us who believe in the sanctity of life do not shy away from speaking up for life, and we relish the opportunity to explain why abortion is evil. What does that say about the people who desperately want to keep us from speaking?
Photo from Shutterstock.