Alabama’s HB 341 an immoral, extremist action by anti-abortion zealots hell-bent on taking America backwards and is a slap in the face to core American values of freedom and liberty. Having failed time and time again to persuade the majority of Americans to embrace their anti-freedom agenda, abortion opponents are using the legislative process to put safe medical care out of reach.
The grotesque irony is that the 25 men who voted for this despicable measure will never have to face the realities of unsafe abortion. Insulated by privilege and power, the rich can circumvent any restriction with their pocket books — it is the poor who suffer when choice is denied.
Of course, these legislators freely admit that their extremist bill is just a play to trigger a Supreme Court battle over Roe v Wade. Drunk on the reckless rhetoric of a president beholden to them, these anti-abortion fundamentalists are spoiling for a fight. They want to play their political game and if that means sacrificing the health, safety and freedom of women and girls in Alabama, so be it.
It is a dark day for freedom in America.
Many recent bills ban abortion after 6 weeks – before most women are even aware they are pregnant — and Alabama’s law constitutes an outright ban at any stage. But women will always seek out a way to end an unwanted pregnancy — the question is whether they can do so safely. In countries with extreme laws like those passed in Georgia, Ohio and now Alabama, women suffer and die. Georgia, for example, has the highest maternal mortality rate in the nation and you can expect those numbers to increase under a law that creates criminal suspicion around every miscarriage.
The new actions by anti-abortion lawmakers take us into dangerous and wrongheaded territory where the norms that we hold dear are abandoned. Every woman has the right to control her fertility safely and with dignity — but these laws will now be used as a weapon to strike blows against the bodies of the women who fail to fulfill their cruel conditions.
Finally and most concerning, these bills attempt to legislate personhood, thereby denying access to abortion at any stage, using faulty science to justify personal religious convictions. In fact, there is not one official Catholic opinion on when life begins. Throughout the Catholic tradition, scholars, saints and ordinary Catholics have had differing beliefs about when a developing fetus becomes a person. There has never been any doubt, however, that our Catholic faith views a woman is a person — with rights, responsibilities and a conscience that must guide her to make the best decision for herself and her family in light of her own circumstances and beliefs.
There can be no debate — from either the church or the state — about whether a woman is a person, a moral agent. Legislators who seek to impose their narrow set of religious beliefs onto others violate both the American principle of religious freedom and the Catholic principle of conscience. Moral decision making, such as whether to continue or terminate a pregnancy, must be guided by an individual’s conscience. As Catholics and as Americans, we support a woman’s right to follow her conscience and we denounce these immoral laws that deny her this most basic human right.
Catholics for Choice opposes these extremist bills and, in doing so, represents the voice of the majority of Catholics who disagree with punishments and stigma being forced upon women seeking abortion care. Six in ten U.S. Catholic voters believe abortion can be a moral choice. The one glimmer of hope is that abortion today remains legal in the United States and there is an army of good citizens ready to fight tooth and nail to defend it. The extremists have scored a victory in Alabama — but by going too far they might also blow themselves up.
This article was originally published by The Hill.