With the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision seemingly on the brink of being overturned, the New York State bishops’ statement reaffirming and expanding a longstanding pledge of Church support for all pregnant women in need sends the right message at the right time.
The bishops’ May 12 statement of compassion and care for women facing unplanned pregnancies is in sharp contrast to the positions of our elected officials, who are falling all over themselves to ensure that New York will remain the abortion capital of the country if Roe—the 1973 decision that legalized abortion nationwide—is indeed reversed.
We join the bishops and all pro-life Catholics in praying for that positive judicial outcome even as we acknowledge that abortion in New York would not only continue unfettered, but even be actively promoted as a social good by many elected officials.
To frightened young women overwhelmed with questions about who will provide for her and her child, where will they live, can she work, go to school, will the baby’s father abandon her—abortion may seem the only option.
And our state’s leaders seem to encourage just that, with virtually every day bringing a new initiative and new funding to ease the path to abortion not just for New York residents, but to women from around the country as well.
The crown of abortion capital is a tarnished one, and one that should not make us proud.
We would have loved to see some of those taxpayer funds, and some of that misplaced compassion, directed to helping support women in difficult circumstances who choose to keep their babies. Such programs, if they exist at all, are not well funded nor are they well promoted, while funding for abortion providers and advocates keeps growing.
The Church, while unjustly perceived as caring only for unborn babies and not for mothers and children, has been consistently on the side of life for all persons, from their beginnings in the womb until natural death.
The bishops’ pledge this week to care for pregnant women who want to carry their babies to term recasts one originally made in the 1980s by Cardinal John O’Connor, the Archbishop of New York, who was a major pro-life leader of his time.
He pledged that any woman, of any age, religious belief, marital or immigration status, can come to the Catholic Church and receive the services and supports she needs to carry her baby to term, regardless of ability to pay.
The cardinal promised not to abandon the woman after delivery, but to see to it that she and her baby have the resources they need and deserve. Anyone who was troubled after having an abortion, even in the distant past, was offered assistance as well.
It’s in that spirit that the New York bishops issued their latest statement, offering practical, material support and asking “every Catholic parish, every Catholic Charities program, every Catholic health facility, every Catholic school, every Catholic college and university, and every religious community in our state to proactively engage with us in this pastoral effort.”
As part of the effort, the New York State Catholic Conference gathered a list of many available resources at www.nyscatholic.org/HelpForMoms, as well as a map of all Catholic parishes, schools and Catholic Charities agencies in the state at www.nyscatholic.org/places.
The bishops also spelled out a vision for New York now and in a post-Roe future:
We envision a New York where a woman in a crisis pregnancy is never made to feel that she has no choice but to abort.
We envision a New York where parents, husbands or partners, as well as society at large, do not put undue pressure on a woman to abort her child.
We envision a New York where access to quality prenatal care and healthy birth outcomes are the same whatever your ZIP code, the color of your skin or your country of origin.
“Politicians can change policies and laws, but only God can convert hearts and minds,” the bishops wrote.
That is as true today as ever, and we pray that our elected leaders will come to see it that way too.
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