States move to protect abortion
Other states are currently considering new pro-abortion measures.
In Maine, Gov. Janet Mills, a Democrat, has signaled support for a bill to allow late-term abortions at any time in pregnancy with a doctor’s approval. Currently, Maine’s laws restrict abortion after 24 weeks, and late-term abortions in the state are extremely rare.
Bishop Robert Deeley of Portland, Maine, spoke on Jan. 18 of his “astonished mind and pained heart in the wake of the radical and extreme measure” under consideration. He quoted the words of Pope Francis when he said that abortion is evil and that at a basic level is “the termination of human life in the maternal womb, in the name of safeguarding other rights.”
“The perpetrators of this planned reality are not ‘serving as a light’ and inspiring ‘others around the country’ as they would have you believe. They are attempting to normalize a horrific stance that each life is not sacred or deserving of the basic human dignity given by God and nature,” the bishop said.
“As this debate continues, I implore people of goodwill to speak to your local representatives in the state legislature and ask them to reconsider this unnecessary reform that will bring immeasurable pain to Maine and its people. Join me in advocating and praying that we will find a way for all in our state and society to embrace an ethic which values all human life from conception to natural death,” Deeley concluded.
Minnesota lawmakers are currently considering H.F. 1/S.F. 1, a bill that, according to the state’s bishops, “attempts to create an unlimited abortion regime in Minnesota that is out of step with Minnesotans’ actual views and those of the rest of the world.”
The bill — known as the Protect Reproductive Options Act — would codify into law a constitutional right to “reproductive freedom.” Abortion already is available in Minnesota throughout pregnancy for most reasons, but the Protect Reproductive Options Act would codify it.
Separate bills under consideration in Minnesota would remove parental notification requirements for minors procuring abortions, as well as remove state protections for babies born alive after an abortion.
“We are disappointed to see the quick pace at which these destructive bills are moving, and we hope to give legislators pause. When contemplating policy on any issue, we must consider all those who will be affected. In this case, that includes the mother, father, and most especially, the unborn child whose life is being taken,” the bishops said in a Jan. 18 letter.
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“In a post-Dobbs world in which states that allow abortion have the responsibility to both regulate the practice and protect nascent human life, we should be working to find common ground on the challenges before us in Minnesota. We stand firm that every child should be welcomed in life and protected by law.”
The Catholic leaders offered suggestions for legislative priorities that they said would help to offer support to mothers in need, reducing the demand for abortion.
“This support means, among other things, policies that fund: nutritional aid for expectant mothers; health care coverage during and after pregnancy for both mother and child; child care assistance; and adequate housing. Enacting reasonable paid family and caregiver leave laws would help people retain work and care for their newborns. Reconsidering whether our adoption policies are unreasonably burdened by excessive costs or barriers to participation is also an imperative,” the bishops continued.
“We also contend that there is a social duty to remove unnecessary barriers to contracting marriage, having children, and being able to raise them well. By raising the family to the top of our state’s policy priorities, we can help restore the family to its proper position as the foundational building block of society where children best flourish.”
Deadlock on abortion bills; pills in the spotlight
And at the federal level, the U.S. House of Representatives passed two pro-life measures in early January that are not expected to make it past the currently Democratic-controlled Senate. Last year the House passed the Women’s Health Protection Act of 2022, an expansive abortion bill that would declare abortion a human right, undercut existing state pro-life laws, and force objecting doctors to perform abortions. The legislation subsequently failed in the Senate.