To mark the signing of the Reproductive Health Act, Cuomo ordered New York landmarks to be lit up in pink lights, the official color of Planned Parenthood. The act codified abortion into law, ensuring it would remain legal in New York if Roe v. Wade were to be overturned by the Supreme Court.
Cuomo cited his Catholic faith in signing the bill, saying that “most Americans, including most Catholics, are pro-choice.” He added that his "oath of office is to the Constitutions of the United States and of the State of New York - not to the Catholic Church.”
His father, Mario Cuomo, was three-time governor of New York and was recognized as one of the first politicians to articulate a justification for support of legal abortion as a Catholic. In a landmark 1984 speech at the University of Notre Dame, Mario Cuomo argued that "Approval or rejection of legal restrictions on abortion should not be the exclusive litmus test of Catholic loyalty.”
Gov. Cuomo also signed a 2011 bill into law redefining marriage, despite opposition by the state’s Catholic bishops.
He currently faces questions over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic – particularly his actions forcing nursing homes to accept active COVID-19 patients.
As the virus spread throughout the United States in March 2020, New York was one of several states to mandate that nursing homes could not reject patients discharged from hospitals with confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19, and who were in stable condition.
The policies had the stated purpose of conserving hospital beds for patients with more severe cases of COVID-19, but the death toll at state nursing homes was high, and Cuomo’s policy was blamed in part for it. New York reversed this mandate in May 2020, allowing nursing homes to refuse patients who had contracted the virus.
Attorney General James later initiated an investigation of the state’s handling of nursing homes during the pandemic, and found that Cuomo’s March 2020 order “may have put residents at increased risk of harm in some facilities and may have obscured the data available to assess that risk.”
In addition, the state’s health department may have underreported COVID-19 nursing home deaths by 50%, the report said.
Janice Dean, a Fox News meteorologist whose husband lost both his parents at New York elder care facilities during the pandemic, spoke out about Cuomo's policies with nursing homes.
“COVID-positive patients should have never been put into nursing homes. We had other options," Dean said in an interview with EWTN Pro-Life Weekly that aired on Oct. 22, 2020. "He knew in the very beginning that this would be a devastating situation and they were like sitting ducks.”
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Watch the full interview with Janice Dean on EWTN Pro-Life Weekly below.
Cuomo also clashed with Catholic and Orthodox Jewish leaders over his pandemic restrictions on houses of worship.
New York churches had re-opened by the summer of 2020 with safety precautions, but with a rise of infections during the fall, Cuomo in October enacted attendance restrictions on houses of worship. He limited some churches to just 10 or 25 people at Masses in areas where the spread of the coronavirus was supposedly severe. Cuomo threatened to close non-compliant churches.
In response, Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn called Cuomo’s order “outrageous,” arguing that churches had worked with the state to institute safety protocols and that the diocese had reported no significant outbreaks due to gatherings. The diocese sued, and eventually won its case against the state at the U.S. Supreme Court in November.
During his time as governor, Cuomo also opposed the state’s bishops in his support for legal marijuana and legalized commercial surrogacy.