Catholic support was critical to the passage of an Alaska ballot initiative requiring parents to be notified before their minor daughter has an abortion.
In elections Tuesday, Proposition 2 passed with 56 percent of the vote. Jim Minnery of the Prop. 2 backer Alaskans for Parental Rights said the support of the Catholic Church “played a crucial role in our success.” While tax rules prevent U.S. churches from advocating for or against political candidates, they may advocate for and against ballot issues and other legislation.
Speaking to the Catholic Anchor, he praised Archbishop of Anchorage Roger Schwietz for his “decisive leadership” in rallying support. He also praised the “dozens of parishes” which helped gather signatures to place the measure on the ballot.
Knights of Columbus councils from around Alaska, with help from the national organization, raised over $80,000 for radio and television advertisements. By contrast, abortion provider Planned Parenthood and other pro-abortion advocates spent $800,000 on opposition ads.
Notices supporting the proposition appeared in Catholic Church buildings and prayers for the initiative’s success were offered at Mass. Catholic families distributed yard signs and bumper stickers and demonstrated at busy intersections.
Knights of Columbus also offered rides to the polls on election day. District deputy Cal Williams told the Catholic Anchor that the group provided 23 rides in Anchorage alone.
Williams added that the campaign had the positive side effect of encouraging parents to speak with their teens about the issue.
“Mothers and fathers, hopefully, did have discussions with their teens and the lines of communication are going to be wider open,” he remarked.
Joe Miller, a pro-life candidate challenging incumbent U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski in Tuesday’s Republican primary, said the pro-life vote was “important,” CBS News reports. He credited Prop. 2 with boosting his supporters’ turnout. Though 7,600 absentee ballots are still uncounted, he presently leads his pro-abortion opponent by about 1,600 votes out of more than 90,000 cast.
Archbishop Schwietz told the Catholic Anchor that common sense prevailed in the passage of the notification measure.
“Parents, no matter where they are on the abortion issue, understood: to be parent is to be a parent. You have responsibility for your children and therefore you should be able to know what they’re doing, and not have other people take away the right to know.”
He said that keeping parents ignorant of their daughters’ abortions amounted to “stabbing at the heart” of family life. He explained that God brought man and woman together to bear children in love and to prepare them for life.
“If their ability to do so is taken away from them, then the state is usurping, it seems to me, the right of parents and the power of God, himself,” the archbishop remarked.
Alaska joins 35 other states which require an abortionist to contact a minor’s parents before he performs an abortion. However, legal challenges to the law are expected.