Catholic Church says no to excommunicating Andrew Cuomo over New York state abortion law

An abortion protestor holds up a model of a 12-week-old embryo at a separate demonstration in Belfast.Reuters

The Catholic Church has rejected calls to excommunicate New York Governor Andrew Cuomo after he pushed through a radical abortion bill legalising terminations up to birth.

The controversial Reproductive Health Act removes abortion from the state criminal statute and instead moves it to the health code. 

It allows pregnancies to be terminated up to the point of birth if the baby is not deemed viable or if the mother's health is at risk. 

Under the terms of the bill, doctors are also no longer required to save the life of a baby that has survived a botched abortion.

Cuomo further angered pro-lifers when he ordered that major landmarks in New York City, including One World Trade Center, be lit up pink in celebration of the Act's passing. 

'The Reproductive Health Act is a historic victory for New Yorkers and for our progressive values,' said Cuomo.

'In the face of a federal government intent on rolling back Roe v. Wade and women's reproductive rights, I promised that we would enact this critical legislation within the first 30 days of the new session - and we got it done.

'I am directing that New York's landmarks be lit in pink to celebrate this achievement and shine a bright light forward for the rest of the nation to follow.'

The change to the law has led to calls for Cuomo, a Catholic, to be excommunicated.

The Bishop of Tennesee Bishop Rick Stika tweeted on Thursday that he would excommunicate Cuomo if he were in his jurisdiction.

'Someone asked me today if I would issue an excommunication of a Catholic Governor under my jurisdiction if the Governor did the same as in New York. I think I might do it for any Catholic legislator under my jurisdiction who voted for the bill as well as the Governor,' he said. 

He added in a separate tweet: 'Enough is enough. Excommunication is to be not a punishment but to bring the person back into the Church. It's like medicine for them. But this vote is so hideous and vile that it warrants the act. But thankfully I am not in that positon. Very sad.' 

The Bishop of Albany Edward Scharfenberger told 'Fox & Friends' on Saturday that the Reproductive Health Act was a 'very radical separation from the Catholic communion' and that he viewed excommunication as a 'last resort'. 

'It goes way beyond Roe v. Wade in so many ways, so I don't see it as something to celebrate,' he said.

'The kind of procedures that are now available in New York state, we wouldn't even do to a dog or a cat...It's torture.'

But a spokesman for Archbishop of New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan said in a statement to CNN that excommunication was 'not an appropriate response to a politician who supports or votes for legislation advancing abortion'. 

In the statement, the spokesman said 'excommunication should not be used as a weapon' and suggested that doing so could even give a 'political advantage' to pro-abortion politicians. 

Cardinal Dolan appeared on 'Fox & Friends' on Monday to reiterate his opposition to excommunicating Cuomo. He said he was against the move despite receiving 'wheelbarrows of letters every day' from angry Catholics telling him to excommunicate the governor.

'I think that would be counterproductive myself,' he said. 

'We would be giving ammo to our enemies ... the Canon Laws would also say you have to use it for a medicinal purpose and you think that there's going to be a good effect that can come out of this.  We have a governor that brags about it.'

He added: 'He's not going to be moved by this.'