New York’s new governor, Kathy Hochul, recently sent a letter to Mark Zuckerberg, CEO and founder of Facebook, calling on him to censor pro-life content on his social media platform because of the Heartbeat Bill in Texas. Her letter was framed in the context of Facebook’s trailblazing manner of quashing misinformation over the course of the last two years or so. The governor’s position is that there is widespread misinformation concerning abortion, and it must be removed from social media.
The introduction to her letter states that Facebook has helped lead the way in removing misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccines from social media. Now, she desires that another serious medical issue be freed of “rampant falsehoods and misinformation.” Hochul declared: “The truth is that abortion is a safe, common medical procedure.” She abhorred the Texas bill because it would make women seeking abortions “feel unsafe and alone.”
Misinformation about the dangers of abortion is just as dangerous as that about masks and vaccines, Hochul said. Her fear is that any questioning of the vaccines or of abortion procedures will lead to more death. She desires to root out the fake news surrounding these topics because she wants to fight “to save more lives.”
Hochul references a study of Facebook engagement from January to March of 2019 that reported that four out of the top ten stories that received the most views “were articles about the New York State Reproductive Health Act from anti-choice news sources that misrepresented the bill.” The main problem with her argument is that she has misunderstood what medicine is and what abortion does. To highlight the truth, we do not even need to quote Christ, the Bible, or Church teaching. We simply need to look at the facts.
“These articles, memes and other shared posts often describe horrific procedures that have no basis in reality,” the governor noted. The problem with Hochul’s decision is not only its denial of free speech. The crux of her misunderstanding lies in labeling abortion as medicine. By its nature, medicine heals, cures, and prolongs life. The very act of abortion destroys; it does not heal. It tears apart a human person; it does not cure. It ends a life; it does not prolong one.
Abortions are described by Catholic pro-lifers as “horrific procedures” because that is literally what they are. The science behind an abortion, when the pregnancy is under 14 weeks, shows that it is accomplished by using a tube to suction and remove “pregnancy tissue.” Since Hochul, and so many other politicians, love to lean on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for guidance on COVID-19, they should also read its material on the development of the child in the womb.
The CDC outlines the fact that by week three of fetal development both the heart and the central nervous system are present. Limbs begin to be noticeable at week four. By week five or six the actual heartbeat can be detected, and by week 12 external genitals are present. All of these details, and much more, are indisputable biology. Full human DNA is present from the moment of conception, so declaring that the child in the womb is “pregnancy tissue” is not only callous but simply incorrect. A woman’s body is doing what it was designed to do if she becomes pregnant from sexual intercourse. Her body is then intricately ordered to do everything that it can to protect and nourish the child inside of her.
Furthermore, The Reproductive Health Act in New York, which Hochul believes is being unjustly attacked, is one of the most extreme pro-abortion laws to ever be created. Governor Cuomo backed this legislation a few years ago. In 2019, the former governor was on stage with Hillary Clinton at Barnard College in Manhattan to speak about the Reproductive Health Act, and he championed it as an important day for women’s rights. Abortions became more accessible after the 24-week period, and the act states that an abortion can be performed after this timeframe if the mother’s life or “health” is at risk. However, the term “health” is never defined. Children have also been born and survived as early as 20 weeks.
The facts continue to be missing from Governor Hochul’s letter to Zuckerberg the further one continues reading. “One in four women,” she continued “will undergo an abortion in her lifetime.” This number is simply false. The Guttmacher Institute reported in 2017 that the abortion rate was 13.5 for every 1,000 women and that number has reportedly dropped more each year.
The governor said that anti-choice groups are basically fear-inducing devils whose only goal is to sow confusion and shame. Pro-life content must always be faithful to the truth while showing compassion for all women who are impacted by abortion. The number of women who deal with lifelong regrets following an abortion is significant. Women also run the risk of dealing with infertility problems following the procedure if there is too much scar tissue in the “healing process.” Enduring either physical or mental pain following an abortion is real, and there are amazing organizations, like Project Rachel, that do tremendous work in giving aid to women who are struggling.
Rather than protecting life, the governor of New York, even more recently, has promised to do all in her power to help women in Texas come to her state for abortions. She said, “For women in Texas, they need to know: we will help you find a way to New York and we are right now looking intensely to find what resources we can bring to the table to help you have safe transport here and let you know there are providers who will assist you in this time of your need.”
Like her predecessor, Hochul is a Catholic who is continuing to advance further down the line away from science, biology, and Catholic teaching. She noted that she was “proud that New York is leading the fight to ensure that every woman and birthing person has access to abortion care.” Our response should not be hatred or despair. Instead, we should strive to preach the truth about the infinite worth of every human person, even if the powers that be threaten to silence us or declare that we are spreading misinformation or hate.
There is a long record, beginning with Christ himself, of Catholic Christians who arrive in the crosshairs for spreading the truth with love. If we have to count our names among them so that we can safeguard children who could be discarded, then so be it.
[Photo Credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images]