Calif. bishops back pro-life and death penalty initiatives

A proposed California ballot initiative to require parental notification for abortions and another initiative to end the death penalty both won the support of the state’s Catholic bishops, who say the proposals will bring “common sense, compassion and prudent justice” to public policy.

Both initiatives bring into focus “important moral issues” about how society treats “nascent life, family life, and even a sinful or errant life.”

Social policy should “respect and support the role of parents” while justice should “uphold human dignity as it protects the community,” the bishops said.

Backers of both initiatives are trying to gather enough support to place them on the 2012 ballot.

The bishops detailed the reasons for their support in a statement published by the California Catholic Conference.

The Parental Notification Initiative would require a girl aged 12-17 to include her parents in a decision to obtain an abortion. Current law allows secrecy for “confidential medical services,” which the California bishops said could allow a girl to have multiple abortions at state expense without her parents’ knowledge.

Parents are responsible for their daughters’ medical and emotional needs, but present policy denies them accurate information about her health, the bishops added.

“As Catholics, we believe and teach that we bear the image of God. We come to life as the result of humanity’s collaboration in God’s creative work,” they said.

The family has the duty to care for children, and government “serves best” when it supports families in “their irreplaceable task of nurturing the next generation.”

The bishops also support an initiative its sponsors call SAFE California, an anti-death penalty measure which claims to offer Savings, Accountability and Full Enforcement.

The proposal would replace the death penalty with life imprisonment without parole.

“We have long held that the use of the death penalty is no longer necessary to protect the community,” the bishops said.

“As Catholics we hold human life as sacred. In the exercise of justice, this principle must prevail in the manner we treat one another, even for those who have done grave harm. Justice requires proportionate and effective means in the protection of society. As citizens, we find the use of the death penalty unnecessary, impractical and expensive.”

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