ALBANY, N.Y. (CNS) — The Catholic bishops of New York state said May 12 that regardless of what the U.S. Supreme Court decides about Roe v. Wade in its final ruling on the Dobbs case from Mississippi, “abortion in New York would continue unfettered.”
Catholics must respond “in charity and with sensitivity, but with clarity” to those for whom the prospect of an overturning of Roe v. Wade has led to “fear and anxiety,” in particular to women facing sometimes overwhelming challenges of unplanned pregnancies, they said.
The bishops made the comments in a major statement titled “Toward a Pro-Life Future in the Empire State.”
A news release said the bishops “address head-on the false notion that the church is more concerned with the baby in the womb than with the mother and child once he or she is born.”
“It is incumbent upon us as shepherds to acknowledge and address that misperception,” the bishops said.
“As far back as the 1980s, the late John Cardinal O’Connor, a giant of the pro-life movement, made a pledge that we reaffirm today: Any woman — regardless of age, religious belief or affiliation, marital status or immigration status — who is pregnant and in need, can come to the Catholic Church and we will give you the services and supports you need to carry your baby to term, regardless of your ability to pay,” the bishops said.
“We will not abandon you and your baby after delivery, but, rather, we will see to it that you have the resources that you and your child both need and deserve. No one will be turned away from life-affirming care,” they continued. “If you have had an abortion that you regret, whether recently or in the distant past, please come to us as well, so that we may offer you services to help you to heal.”
They also announced “a renewed pastoral effort” to help pregnant women in need and those families expecting a new child who are in financial difficulty.
“We ask 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,” the bishops said.
They are “challenging every Catholic entity in the state to join them” in this effort. Through the New York State Catholic Conference, the public policy arm of the Catholic Church in the state, the bishops gathered a list of many of the available resources at www.nyscatholic.org/HelpForMoms.
Also on the website is a map to all Catholic parishes, schools and Catholic Charities agencies in the state — www.nyscatholic.org/places.
The bishops also said state and local governments “must do their part as well.”
“Elected officials constantly fall over themselves in rushing to announce new initiatives to ever expand abortion in order to garner votes,” they said.
“Programs to support women who make the choice to keep their babies, to the extent that they exist at all, are starved for funding and are not well promoted,” they said. “Yet many political leaders typically cater more to abortion providers and advocates than to women who might well make a different choice, if only they were aware of and had other options.”
The statement was signed by signed by: Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York and Bishops Edward B. Scharfenberger of Albany, Robert J. Brennan of Brooklyn, Michael W. Fisher of Buffalo, Terry R. LaValley of Ogdensburg, Salvatore R. Matano of Rochester, John O. Barres of Rockville Centre, and Douglas J. Lucia of Syracuse.
It was issued in light of “the gathering societal unrest over the issue of abortion,” especially after an initial draft of a Supreme Court opinion leaked May 2 indicated the high court is set to overturn its Roe v. Wade decision, which 50 years ago legalized abortion nationwide.
The court also is expected to overturn its 1992 ruling in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which affirmed Roe and prohibited regulations that created an “undue burden” on women seeking an abortion.
If the final ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization overturns Roe and Casey, the issue of abortion would be returned to the states. Justice Samuel Alito is writing the majority opinion.
“Through the years, advocates for legal abortion have skillfully framed the narrative as one of ‘choice’ and ‘reproductive freedom,’ completely ignoring the biological reality of what abortion is: the intentional killing of an innocent child in the womb,” the bishops said.
“Even as sonogram technology and advances in neonatal medicine clearly show us the truth that what is being ‘terminated’ is a human life, the pro-abortion movement refuses to address the science.”
The abortion industry’s messaging “has been so successful” that “the right to abortion has become inextricably linked to the notion of women’s rights and equality for a significant portion of the country, which is why the prospect of a nation without Roe has led to fear and anxiety for many people,” they continued.
“Millions of our fellow Americans — even, it must be said, many of our fellow Catholics — have succumbed to this false notion, and we must respond to it in charity and with sensitivity, but with clarity.”
“The fears and anxieties of a young woman faced with an unplanned pregnancy are valid,” they said. “She is likely terrified. She may be overwhelmed with a plethora of legitimate questions: How will she provide for her other children with another baby on the way? Will the father abandon her? Will she be able to continue her education? Where will she and her family live? Who will provide child care when she goes back to work? For many, abortion seems the only way out.”
“These feelings are real, and the challenges of an unplanned pregnancy are difficult. This presents a pastoral challenge for bishops, clergy, church leaders and, indeed, for all faithful Catholics,” they said.
In a 12-point section at the end of the statement, the bishops lay out their vision of a New York state where all work together across all sectors to do more for pregnant women and families in need so that no woman in a crisis pregnancy is ever made “to feel that she has no choice but to abort.”