Dolan’s sneaky New York victory

Much of the country is rightfully appalled at the horrific new abortion law New York governor Andrew Cuomo just rammed down the throat of the benighted Empire State. It essentially legalizes not just all abortions but infanticide. Calls by sensible Catholics for New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan to show a little spine and excommunicate the supposedly Catholic Cuomo have gone for naught.

I wish the country’s most prominent cardinal, and his colleagues, could summon up a little courage from time to time, but that’s just not going to happen.

If there is a silver lining here it may be that as a practical matter, this law may not result in many more abortions; there are only five late-term abortion clinics still operating in America. That’s because even pro-abortion doctors and nurses are grossed out by killing nearly-born babies. There’s also the matter of medical malpractice insurance -- no way any insurer wants to be guaranteeing the work of the next Kermit Gosnell. New York’s law also allows just about any health care professional, not just an MD, to do abortions. We can only imagine the horror stories about to occur when some creep with a diploma mill degree starts hacking at away some poor woman’s pregnant body. Trial lawyers take note.

Speaking of which, Cardinal Dolan may be a coward, but he is sneaky. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that something else passed this week in New York -- the Child Victims Act. It allows minors to sue abusers up till they reach age 55 and related institutions for up to one year starting now, in a “one-time” suspension of the statute of limitations. Dolan and the rest of the Church opposed this law, unless it also included public institutions such as schools, as well. In a little noticed deal, the law does include public schools and the like and passed almost without opposition. I suspect in return for going easy on Cuomo, Dolan got this law amended the way he wanted.

And what he has done is gamble that what the Catholic League maintains is true -- that the American Church pretty much cleaned up its act 20 years ago with the Dallas Charter and the abuse of minors, and there won’t be many new provable cases coming to light against his diocese. (This is in contrast to the ongoing problems of the so-called Lavender Mafia, higher-ups in the Church, who are at least savvy enough to keep their paws off the under 18-year-olds)

But for New York State’s public-school districts -- wow! They have been hiding behind state “sovereign immunity” laws for decades, while powerful teacher’s union have protected the worst teachers of all stripes, many of them sexual predators. Occasionally, some of these cases got through all the procedural hurdles, and into court, such as the torture of the Down’s Syndrome children on Long Island, but not many. Now the legal floodgates are open. If I know my New Yorkers, they are not the forgive-and-forget types. Especially if they were mistreated by the government, and there is a payday at the end of the road.  I would expect a tsunami of lawsuits once word gets out.

Some commentators even predict the law may eventually cost billions and bankrupt most school districts. That could be the end of New York public school teacher unions and force the adoption of less costly education alternatives, like school choice programs for everybody. Or they might just raise taxes. Wonder which one they will do?

Frank Friday is an attorney in Louisville, KY.