Fighting for Who We Are as a Nation
The latest effort by pro-abortion Democrats to pass an extreme pro-abortion law has failed. A few days ago, the U.S. Senate voted against allowing the so-called Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA) to proceed to a debate and then a final vote.
This truly egregious piece of legislation – “more radical than Roe v. Wade” itself – would enshrine in law a “right” to abortion on demand nationwide, at any stage of pregnancy. In doing so, it would eliminate pro-life laws at every level of government. It would also force Americans to support abortions here and abroad with their tax dollars.
Adding insult to injury, the WHPA would likely force health care providers and professionals to perform, assist in, and/or refer for abortion against their deeply held beliefs, and would compel employers and insurers to cover or pay for abortion.
In an analysis of the bill, Melanie Israel with The Heritage Foundation noted that the bill “would effectively repeal existing state laws, expressly prohibit future laws that regulate abortion and the abortion industry, and place at risk long-standing federal policies that reflect more than 40 years of bipartisan consensus.”
In other words, decades of pro-life work would be wiped out, in an instant. So radical is the bill that pro-life leader Lila Rose, the president and founder of Live Action, recently noted that, if passed, the WHPA “would be the single most destructive piece of legislation enacted in the history of our nation.”
In a sign of just how radical the Democratic Party has become on the issue of abortion, the bill successfully passed the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives last October. Fortunately, however, the Senate is more split. In order to proceed in the Senate, the bill needed 60 votes, but received only 46, with six members absent or abstaining.
The ‘Shameful’ Complicity of Catholic Senators
In a statement, 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, welcomed the demise of the bill.
“The failure to advance this extreme measure today is a tremendous relief,” they said.
We must respect and support mothers, their unborn children, and the consciences of all Americans. 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. Women deserve better than this. We implore Congress to promote policies that recognize the value and human dignity of both mother and child.
Despite the fact that the WHPA flagrantly violates Catholic teaching on the intrinsic evil of abortion, and constitutes a grotesque attack on human rights, a total of thirteen Catholic U.S. Senators voted in favor of the bill.
One U.S. bishop – Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence, Rhode Island – responded to this betrayal by Catholic lawmakers with a brief, but trenchant tweet: “Shameful. The judgement will be God’s.”
The thirteen Catholic senators who voted for the law were: Maria Cantwell, D-Wash.; Bob Casey, D-Penn; Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev.; Dick Durbin, D-Ill.; Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.; Tim Kaine, D-Va.; Mark Kelly, D-Ariz.; Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.; Ed Markey, D-Mass.; Bob Menendez, D-N.J.; Patty Murray, D-Wash.; Alex Padilla, D-Calif., and Jack Reed, D-R.I.
If one of these listed above is your Senator, I urge you to write or phone their office to express your disgust.
Naturally, the nation’s most prominent “devout” Catholic politician – President Joe Biden – also took the opportunity to signal his passionate support for legal child-killing. In a statement, Biden’s press secretary, Jen Psaki, called the vote “extremely disappointing.”
Psaki noted the ongoing push for pro-life laws in the U.S., highlighting in particular the Texas Heartbeat Law, which bans abortion after the point when the unborn child’s heartbeat can be detected (about six weeks). That law went into effect in Texas six months ago, and according to estimates has saved the lives of many thousands of unborn children and their mothers.
Psaki, however, accused the Texas law of “brazenly violating Texans’ constitutional rights and empowering private citizens to act as bounty hunters against their neighbors.” She lamented that a number of other states are considering passing similar laws.
“As dangerous new laws proliferate in states across the country, the Biden-Harris Administration will continue to explore the measures and tools at our disposal to stand up for women’s equality,” she said. “This is a moment for us to recommit to strengthening access to women’s health care, defend the constitutional right affirmed by Roe, and protect the freedom of all people to build their own future.”
A Promising Future
The good news is that while the Democratic Party has been trying for years to pass the WHPA and brought it to a vote in the Senate for the first time, they are not likely to have another opportunity in the near future.
It is generally expected that come the November mid-term elections, the Republicans will gain some legislative seats. In that case, the needed votes to pass the WHPA will be even further out of reach for the Democrats.
Adding hope to hope is that this may well be the year when Roe v. Wade falls. If that is the case (and we must continue to pray for our Supreme Court Justices, that they find the courage and wisdom to do the right thing), then 2022 could mark a sea change in the battle to protect life in the United States. The attempt to pass the WHPA could look, in retrospect, like the last gasp of a dying extremist pro-abortion political faction.
Looked at another way, however, the fall of Roe will not so much mark a significant sea change, as the culmination of a pro-life sea change that began many years ago, and which has gained momentum with every passing year. As pro-abortion activists have so loudly lamented, 2021 was the year when pro-life state legislators passed over one hundred pro-life laws – the most ever in a single year. However, this too was the culmination of years of growing pro-life legislative successes at the state level.
Late last year the pro-abortion Guttmacher Institute decried the “torrent” of new pro-life laws, noting that 2021 was “the first time that Guttmacher’s count of enacted [abortion] restrictions has hit triple digits.” The text of the WHPA itself laments that, “Since 2011, States and local governments have passed nearly 500 restrictions singling out health care providers who offer abortion services.”
Pro-abortion legislators are attempting to spin the unsuccessful vote on the WHPA as a kind of victory. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said on the Senate floor prior to the vote that “This will be the first time that the Senate takes a vote on a standalone bill to proactively codify Roe.”
While that is true, the reason that the bill got so far this time is in part because of just how successful the pro-life movement has been and how desperate pro-abortion legislators are. As long as Roe v. Wade was the law of the land, and states had liberal abortion laws, there was no need for the WHPA. But with pro-life legislators successfully passing laws to protect unborn children in so many states, and with Roe potentially poised to fall, the Democrats turned to the WHPA as a desperate last-ditch effort to keep America pro-abortion.
However, America is not a pro-abortion country. Polls consistently show that a majority of Americans want significant restrictions on abortion – restrictions that the WHPA would wipe out, and prevent in the future. In other words, pro-abortion Democrats who supported this bill are radically out of step with the national mood, which increasingly recognizes that unborn children are our brothers and sisters and must be protected in law.
Since the violent crime of abortion was unjustly imposed upon this nation 49 years ago, over 60 million unborn children have been murdered and it has led to the countless suffering of mothers, fathers, families, and a nation.
I conclude with the profound insights of St. Teresa of Calcutta that expose the abortion mindset and its dire consequences. Though spoken twenty-eight years ago, her words still ring true and are worth remembering.
America needs no words from me to see how your decision in Roe v. Wade has deformed a great nation. The so-called right to abortion has pitted mothers against their children and women against men. It has sown violence and discord at the heart of the most intimate human relationships. It has aggravated the derogation of the father’s role in an increasingly fatherless society. It has portrayed the greatest of gifts—a child—as a competitor, an intrusion, and an inconvenience. It has nominally accorded mothers unfettered dominion over the independent lives of their physically dependent sons and daughters. And, in granting this unconscionable power, it has exposed many women to unjust and selfish demands from their husbands or other sexual partners.
Human rights are not a privilege conferred by government. They are every human being’s entitlement by virtue of his humanity. The right to life does not depend, and must not be declared to be contingent, on the pleasure of anyone else, not even a parent or a sovereign. … You must weep that your own government, at present, seems blind to this truth.
Let us pray that the Supreme Court and the leaders of this country with its citizens will have the courage to correct a grave error.
Did you find this useful?
Father Shenan J. Boquet was ordained in 1993 and is a priest of the Houma-Thibodaux Roman Catholic Diocese in Louisiana, his home state, where he served before joining HLI as its President in August 2011. Father Boquet earned a BA from Saint Joseph Seminary College, a Master of Divinity (MDiv) from Notre Dame Seminary Graduate School of Theology, a Certification Program in Health Care Ethics from the National Catholic Bioethics Center, and a Master of Science in Bioethics (MSBe) from the University of Mary in Bismarck. In 2018, Father Boquet was awarded an honorary visiting professorship by the Benedict XVI Catholic University in Trujillo, Peru. He is available for interviews and bookings on behalf of HLI by emailing email@example.com.