Lisa Hall, director of Respect Life programs in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse, wrote this open letter in concerning NY Governor Andrew Cuomo’s plan to radically liberalize abortion laws throughout the state even though the Empire State already leads the country is embryonic body counts.

Cuomo’s push would loosen regulations on abortion in the state, allowing non-doctors to perform abortions, preventing common-sense safeguards protecting minors – our girls! — and trampling on the religious liberty rights of New Yorkers who believe abortion is wrong.

The governor’s priority here is not a mere benign codification of the status quo, with some added statements about good things we all agree on. The governor’s reproductive Health Act is harmful to women and children in our state.

People of any position or even no position on abortion can agree that Cuomo’s push is not what New York needs. It’s not what New York wants. A poll commissioned by the Chiaroscuro Foundation finds that likely voters who support legal abortion agree that expanding abortion access – what the Reproductive Health Act does – is not what we need. When asked: “Do you agree or disagree that women have sufficient access to abortion in New York?” only 14 percent disagreed. When it was pointed out that “according to the latest New York State Health Department statistics, in 2010, there were more than 111,000 abortions in New York State,” four in five agree – 79 percent of all voters – that there is sufficient abortion access in the state. Seventy-seven percent of self-identified pro-choice voters agree.

Let’s focus on that for a moment. In New York state, 33 percent of all pregnancies end in abortion. In New York City, it’s 40 percent and it gets as high as 70 percent in some communities, hitting minorities hardest. At best, nearly as many women choose to abort their children in New York than choose to give birth to them. That’s not rare. And I know because I work with women and men who are mourning, who regret their abortions, who were pressured into abortion, who didn’t feel they had a choice. The governor has cleverly packaged this radical expansion of abortion with all sorts of unobjectionable items touting nondiscrimination and fairness, only just about leaving out apple pie.

My experience as a woman, working with women here in Syracuse, makes clear to me that women want to nurture and sustain life. When we talk about choices, we want to make sure that we are doing everything, legislatively, yes, but personally, too, to help facilitate life and love. Andrew Cuomo’s Reproductive Health Act priorities do not help this worthy goal; they would expand abortion.

All the world looks to New York. The Empire State leads, culturally and otherwise. How wonderful it is that we can celebrate – and we ought to – our suffragettes, the women who trailblazed, who knew the importance of our civic responsibilities and women’s unique contributions to it. They also respected the dignity of human life. We don’t have to agree on the abortion issue to agree that it ought not be our preference. We don’t have to agree on abortion to work together to make it rare. Can’t we work together to lessen the tragedy of abortion and encourage childbirth over abortion for women faced with difficult or unplanned pregnancies?