The urgency to pass the bill stemmed from fears that the U.S. Supreme Court may strike down Roe later this year in the Mississippi abortion case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
In the end, though, the bill failed to garner the 60 votes needed to overcome a Republican filibuster. The final vote — 46 for and 48 against the WHPA — fell mostly along party lines, with just one Democrat, Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, voting against it.
In a Feb. 28 press release, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, chairman of the Committee for Religious Liberty, criticized the WHPA, also known as H.R. 3755.
“The failure to advance this extreme measure today is a tremendous relief,” the prelates stated. “Passing H.R. 3755 would have led to the loss of millions of unborn lives and left countless women to suffer from the physical and emotional trauma of abortion.”
“Rather than providing comprehensive material and social support for a challenging pregnancy, H.R. 3755 fails women and young girls in need by instead offering a free abortion as the ‘solution’ to their difficulty,” they added. “Women deserve better than this. We implore Congress to promote policies that recognize the value and human dignity of both mother and child.”
Clear Church teaching
The Catholic Church condemns abortion in the strongest possible terms.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church, which summarizes Church teaching, recognizes the inherent dignity and worth of the unborn human person and considers abortion a “crime against human life.”
“Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception,” the catechism reads. “From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person – among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.”
In his Evangelium Vitae encyclical, Pope St. John Paul II addressed abortion in light of politics.
“I repeat once more that a law which violates an innocent person's natural right to life is unjust and, as such, is not valid as a law,” he wrote. “For this reason I urgently appeal once more to all political leaders not to pass laws which, by disregarding the dignity of the person, undermine the very fabric of society.”
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The “Church encourages political leaders, starting with those who are Christians, not to give in, but to make those choices which, taking into account what is realistically attainable, will lead to the re- establishment of a just order in the defence and promotion of the value of life,” he added.
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith later explained the late pontiff’s teaching in a doctrinal note on “The Participation of Catholics in Political Life.”
“John Paul II, continuing the constant teaching of the Church, has reiterated many times that those who are directly involved in lawmaking bodies have a grave and clear obligation to oppose any law that attacks human life,” it read. “For them, as for every Catholic, it is impossible to promote such laws or to vote for them.”
A total of 11 Catholic senators, including Manchin, voted against the WHPA. They are: Mike Braun, R-Ind.; Susan Collins, R-Maine; John Hoeven, R-N.D.; Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.; Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska; Jim Risch, R-Idaho; Mike Rounds, R-S.D.; Marco Rubio, R-Fla.; Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska; Thom Tillis, R-N.C., and Pat Toomey, R-Penn.