Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York expressed "great disappointment" in Gov. Andrew Cuomo's announcement to move forward with the state's proposed Reproductive Health Act.

In his third annual State of the State address on Jan. 9, the democratic governor said that among other reforms, he intends to strengthen local abortion laws by enacting the measure.

In response, Cardinal Dolan said the move would ultimately increase New York's "scandalous" abortion rate.

"I am hard pressed to think of a piece of legislation that is less needed or more harmful than this one," Cardinal Dolan wrote in a Jan. 9 letter to Gov. Cuomo.

"There was a time when abortion supporters claimed they wanted to make abortion 'safe, legal and rare,'" the leader of the U.S. Catholic Bishops' conference said.

The cardinal congratulated the Cuomo on his third year as governor and praised some points of the address that he can stand with the governor on, such as reforming gun-ownership laws, raising the state's minimum wage and improving local health care.

However, Cardinal Dolan said he would "be remiss" if he did not condemn the governor's proposal to strengthen abortion laws in New York and said he "stands ready and eager" to discuss the issue "at any time."

He said that he and his brother bishops would like to work to reduce the state's abortion rate by providing "an environment for all women and girls in which they are not made to feel as if their only alternative is to abort."

Abortion "goes against all human instinct" and will frequently lead "to feelings of regret, guilt and pain" for both the mother and father.

Cardinal Dolan said Gov. Cuomo appreciates that that millions of New Yorkers of different beliefs hold a "deep respect for all human life from conception to natural death."

"I also know that you are aware that New York State's abortion rate is, incredibly, double the national average," he said, with 4 out of 10 pregnancies ending in abortion, while impoverished parts of New York City have rates over 60 percent.

While Cardinal Dolan and Gov. Cuomo "obviously disagree on the question of the legality of abortion," Cardinal Dolan said that certainly they must both be "in equally strong agreement that the abortion rate in New York is tragically high."