Our Office has been tracking a number of major legislative and judicial actions that affect the public policy priorities of the Church.
New York State Issues
Assisted Suicide (A.5261-B/S.5814 and A.2129-A/S.3685) -- Several different bills have been introduced to legalize assisted suicide in New York, and a lawsuit has been filed seeking the same goal. The New York State Catholic Conference opposes any effort to legalize assisted suicide. For more information, go to the New York Alliance Against Assisted Suicide website.
Abortion Expansion Plan (A.6221 Glick/S.4432) -- This radical pro-abortion bill has been separated from the omnibus "Women's Equality Act", the other provisions of which have been passed as stand-alone bills and signed by the Governor. The New York State Catholic Conference opposes any effort to expand abortion rights. For more information, go to the New Yorkers for Life website.
Surrogate Parenting (A.4319/S.2765) -- These bills would overturn current New York law that invalidates any contract for paid surrogate parenting. A report is expected from the New York State Task Force on Life and the Law, which may recommend legalizing commercial surrogate parenting. The New York State Catholic Conference opposes any effort to legalize surrogate parenting contracts.
To take action on these bills -- Go to the New York State Catholic Conference Action Center.
Federal Legislative Issues
Abortion Non-Discrimination Act -- This bill would strengthen conscience protection for healthcare providers. Efforts to ensure that it is included in the final budget package passed by Congress were unsuccessful. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops supports the bill.
De-Funding Planned Parenthood (S. 1836/H.R. 3134) -- A bill to prohibit federal funding for Planned Parenthood was passed by the House (241 to 187), but efforts to attach a similar provision to a funding resolution was not successful. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops supports the bill.
Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (H.R.36) -- This bill would makes it unlawful to perform an abortion if the age of the unborn child is 20 weeks or greater, the time at which unborn children can feel pain. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops supports this bill.
The First Amendment Defense Act (H.R. 2802, S. 1598) -- This bill would prevent the federal government from discriminating against those who hold to the authentic definition of marriage, based on their religious or moral beliefs. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops supports this bill.
Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015 (S.178) -- This bill would strengthen existing laws banning human trafficking. It also contains a provision that would prevent federal funding under anti-trafficking programs from being used for elective abortions. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops supports this bill.
To take action on these bills -- Go to: http://www.nchla.org/action.asp or cqrcengage.com/catholicbishops/home
International Human Rights -- The Frank R. Wolf International Religious Freedom Act of 2015 (H.R. 1150), would enhance the ability of the United States to advance religious freedom worldwide. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops supports this bill.
Immigration -- To encourage U.S. Senators and Representatives to enact compassionate and meaningful immigration reform that Catholics and supporters of immigrants want from our elected officials, visit the USCCB Justice for Immigrants website by clicking here.
Conscience Protection/HHS Mandate
Religious Organizations -- Numerous cases have been filed by dioceses and religious organizations, including the Archdiocese, that cannot comply with the HHS Mandate due to their religious beliefs. Some of these cases (e.g. The Little Sisters of the Poor) were decided in favor of religious liberty, but other challenges to the regulations were not successful. The cases are now before the Supreme Court, which will decide this Spring.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops supports the religious liberty rights of individuals, private employers, and religious organizations, and filed an Amicus Curiae brief in the Supreme Court.
A lawsuit was filed in New York State by assisted suicide advocates, seeking to have our ban overturned. The lower court upheld the statute but the case is now on appeal. The New York State Catholic Conference opposes this lawsuit, and filed an Amicus Curiae brief in the appellate court.
Local Advocacy Initiatives
We encourage regular correspondence with legislators, and particularly we urge people to become regular visitors to local district offices. We are available to help parishioners plan and prepare these local advocacy activities.