National News

USCCB and Pro-Life Leaders Decry ‘Unjust and Extreme Abortion on Demand’ Legislation

By Julie Asher 

WASHINGTON (CNS) — Two abortion measures passed by the House July 15 “promote an extreme abortion agenda,” said Jeanne Mancini, president of March for Life.

In a mostly party-line vote of 219 to 210, House members approved an updated version of the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would codify a right to abortion into federal law. An earlier version was passed in March by the House, but it failed to pass in the Senate.

People gather during the annual March for Life rally in Washington Jan. 24, 2020. (CNS photo/Tyler Orsburn)

The House also passed the Ensuring Access to Abortion Act, which would ban states from punishing those who travel out of state “for reproductive health care.” This vote also was largely along party lines; the measure was approved 223-205.

March for Life “strongly opposes the extreme pro-abortion legislation on the House floor today,” Mancini said in a statement issued ahead of the vote. She also called the Women’s Health Protection Act “deceptively named.”

“These bills are designed to undermine and eliminate the states’ rights to protect women and their unborn children through laws passed by their elected representatives, a right restored by the Supreme Court in the landmark Dobbs decision,” she said.

Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities and New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee for Religious Liberty, said July 18 that the House passed “the most unjust and extreme abortion on demand bill our nation has ever seen.” 

“Answering the needs of women by promoting taxpayer-funded elective abortion, as this bill would do, is a grave evil and a failure to love and serve women,” the statement said. “Offering free or low-cost abortions, instead of increasing the resources women need to care for themselves and their children, is not ‘choice’ but coercion and callous abandonment. Simply repeating the mantra that abortion is healthcare doesn’t make it so. Deliberately ending the lives of defenseless and voiceless human beings is the antithesis of healthcare. 

We implore those who see abortion as a legitimate ‘solution’ to the needs of women to abandon this path of death and despair. Instead, we invite all to join us in pursuing a vision we presented in Standing with Moms in Need, a vision that upholds the truth that every human life is sacred and inviolable—a society in which the legal protection of human life is accompanied by profound care for mothers and their children.

We exhort our nation to prioritize the well-being of women, children, and families with both material resources and personal accompaniment so that no woman ever feels forced to choose between her future and the life of her child.”

On June 24, the court overturned 1973’s Roe v. Wade ruling, which legalized abortion nationwide, and 1992’s Casey v. Planned Parenthood ruling that affirmed Roe.

The decision came in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a challenge to a Mississippi law banning abortion after 15 weeks. The court affirmed the law in a 6-3 ruling and also voted 5-4 to overturn Roe and Casey, sending the abortion issue back to the states.

In remarks from the House floor during debate before the votes, Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J., said the Women’s Health Protection Act, H.R. 8296, “would legally authorize and enable the violent death of unborn baby girls and boys by dismemberment, beheading, forced expulsion from the womb, deadly poisons, or other methods at any time, for any reason, until birth.”

“Don’t believe it? Read Section 4,” said Smith. “This bill is far outside the American mainstream and goes far beyond Roe v Wade.”

Section 4 of the 27-page bill says a health care provider “has a statutory right under this act to provide abortion services” without limitations.

For example, it says there can be no prohibition on an abortion “at any point” prior to fetal viability or on a particular abortion procedure, and no prohibition on an abortion after fetal viability “when, in the good-faith medical judgment of the treating health care provider, continuation of the pregnancy would pose a risk to the pregnant patient’s life or health.

“This legislation constitutes an existential threat to unborn children,” said Smith, who co-chairs the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus.

“If enacted, this bill will nullify almost every pro-life restriction ever enacted by the states including parental involvement laws in 37 states and pain capable unborn child protection laws in 19 states,” he added.

Smith cited a January 2022 Marist Poll that shows only 17% of Americans believe that “abortion should be available to a woman any time she wants one during her entire pregnancy.”

He also pointed to a late June Harvard/Harris nationwide poll that asked Americans: “Do you think your state should allow abortions up to nine months?” Only 10% said “yes.”

H.R. 8296 also says: “This act is intended to protect all people with the capacity for pregnancy — cisgender women, transgender men, nonbinary individuals, those who identify with a different gender and others — who are unjustly harmed by restrictions on abortion services.”

Republican House leaders put forward two pro-life measures that ultimately failed: a motion to recommit on the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act and a motion to recommit on the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act.

A “motion to recommit” provides one final opportunity for the House to debate and amend a measure before the final vote. The Republican’s measures would have amended, respectively, H.R. 8296 and the Ensuring Access to Abortion Act, H.R. 8297.

In her statement, Mancini said the two bills passed by the House “would endanger lives by expanding the reach of chemical abortion and allowing telemedicine mailing across state lines without physical examination, which could be life-threatening, especially in cases of ectopic pregnancies.”

If enacted, she said, H.R. 8297, also could lead to shielding child abusers who transport women or girls across state lines for abortions from criminal liability.”

“In this post-Roe America, it is important now more than ever to ensure women and their children experience the physical and emotional support they need to thrive. We urge Congress to prioritize life-affirming legislation rather than harmful bills that prop up the pro-abortion lobby.”

Mancini praised Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla, and Rep. Nancy Mace, R-S.C., for answering the call for increased efforts to care for mothers and the unborn since Roe was overturned by sponsoring the Standing with Moms Act.

It would provide pregnant mothers easy access to federal, state, local and private “life-affirming” resources through a designated website, she said.

“This bill, if enacted, will go a long way toward the simple act of providing families facing an unexpected pregnancy with information about the collective millions of dollars’ worth of free resources,” she added.