Massachusetts Catholic Bishops Oppose ‘ROE Act’ Abortion Bill

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The four Roman Catholic diocesan bishops in Massachusetts have come out against the so-called ROE Act abortion-expansion bills, calling them “deeply troubling.”

“The result would become abortion on demand for the full term of pregnancy,” the bishops said in a written statement Friday, through their lobbying arm, the Massachusetts Catholic Conference. “… We urge all people of good will, regardless of what faith they practice, to vigorously oppose these extreme measures.”

The bill, which has virtually identical versions in the Massachusetts House and Senate, would remove most remaining restrictions on abortion in Massachusetts, making it easier for women to get abortions after 24 weeks, removing a requirement that underage girls get the consent of their parents or a judge to get an abortion, and removing a requirement that late-term abortions take place in a hospital.

Opponents call it an infanticide bill, because it removes a current requirement in state law that if a baby is born after an attempted abortion, doctors must try to save the life of the baby.

The joint statement from the bishops comes six days after Cardinal Sean O’Malley, the archbishop of Boston, released his own statement opposing the Massachusetts House and Senate abortion-expansion bills.

O’Malley acknowledged that a sizable majority of Massachusetts residents support legal abortion, and he pitched his argument partly at them.

“The bills are threatening to human life and dignity and should, in my judgement, be opposed even by those who support the Roe v. Wade decision,” O’Malley said in the statement Saturday, April 6. “… Legislators, I hope, will not presume that broad support in Massachusetts for legal abortion automatically translates into willingness on the part of the public to embrace the extreme provisions of these bills. These realities deserve our serious consideration with the highest convictions of what is right and our full compassion. And the unborn children who will be most directly impacted by the proposals deserve to have their lives protected.”

The other Massachusetts diocesan bishops are Edgar da Cunha, the bishop of Fall River, which includes the South Coast, Cape Cod, and the islands; Robert McManus, the bishop of Worcester, which covers central Massachusetts; and Mitchell Rozanski, the bishop of Springfield, which covers western Massachusetts.

In recent days, Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund of Massachusetts, which supports the ROE Act bill, has been emphasizing its opposition to the parental-consent requirement in current state law, saying it threatens the health of underage girls who seek abortions.

The “ROE” in ROE Act stands for “Removing Obstacles and Expanding Access to Women’s Reproductive Health,” and is also a reference to Roe vs. Wade, the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide.

Massachusetts Senate Bill 1209 and Massachusetts House Bill 3320 have been referred to legislative committees but no hearings have been scheduled yet.