Another Line Crossed

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil”  Isaiah 5:20

Over the past months something profoundly important occurred.  The New York state legislature repealed its law requiring basic medical care for infants who survive an abortion, effectively legalizing infanticide.  The New York lawmakers erupted in a standing ovation following the vote.  The Governor, who self-identifies as a Catholic, also celebrated the achievement as he signed it into law.  There are currently 19 states which have similar statues, effectively allowing infanticide.

Similarly, in February pro-abortion Democrats in the U.S. House and Senate blocked the passage of the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, a law which would have prevented such an evil.  One of the Senators who voted against the bill protecting babies, announced this month that he is introducing a bill that would protect kittens from being killed after government research, stating: “The KITTEN Act will protect these innocent animals from being needlessly euthanized in government testing, and make sure that they can be adopted by loving families instead.”  It is supported by a wide range of Senate and House co-sponsors.  If his bill were to be passed, in some instances in the United States, a kitten’s life will be more valued and protected in law than a human baby’s.

Some have proposed that this sudden burst of legislating to not only enshrine abortion law at the state level, but also to make it more extreme, is the result of realizing that the flawed Roe v. Wade decision of 1973 stands a good chance of being overturned in coming years.  This would return the issue to the states as it was before Roe.  This opinion has some weight because there has also been an uptick in legislation in states which are more pro-life, such as Missouri, that have introduced legislation providing more protection to the unborn child.

I have noted before in this column that I believe abortion is the key moral issue dividing America and destroying our nation’s unity.  Indeed, the Catechism of the Catholic Church notes, “When the state does not place its power at the service of the rights of each citizen, and in particular of the more vulnerable, the very foundations of a state based on law are undermined …” (n. 2273).  Abortion manifests two opposed visions of the human person.  In this regard, it is remarkably similar in both substance and social impact to the scourge of slavery that led to the Civil War. In both instances, one class of persons was denied foundational human rights; in the case of legalized abortion, unborn persons are denied the right to life.

In the middle is the mother, the individual in some form of crisis, who would otherwise never consider such a choice.  The Catholic Church, along with many other people of faith and good will, have formed a network of support to assist women who are in such crises, or who are dealing with the wounds and regrets which follow an abortion.  We must always be an agent of God’s mercy, even while working to end this evil which has become institutionalized and backed by money and political power.

To be Catholic is to be pro-child, pro-woman, and pro-life; they are part of a whole.  No Catholic may condone or support abortion directly or indirectly.  A Catholic politician may not cooperate in furthering abortion no matter what his or her political party’s position.  The Catholic politicians who voted to strengthen abortion law should repent of this grave sin, and certainly not present themselves for Holy Communion until they do.

Many of you were alarmed to see the day that laws in America would be passed effectively legalizing infanticide, as was I.  It was a line many never imagined would be crossed.  We must re-double our efforts to protect the gift of human life and do so with both love and determination.  There is a great opportunity ahead of us.  We must try to save lives and save our nation.

This Monday, March 25, our Church will celebrate the Feast of the Annunciation, when a poor Jewish maiden with an unplanned crisis pregnancy said Yes to Life, and thereby brought the hope of eternal life to our world.  May Our Lady of the Annunciation pray for us, especially for mothers and fathers, as well as legislators and voters, that all may say Yes to life as well.

+James V. Johnston, Jr.
Bishop of Kansas City-St. Joseph

Catholic Key, March 22 issue

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