My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
A little-known fact of Illinois trivia is that the southern tip of the State of Illinois is closer to the State of Louisiana than to Chicago. This may be true in terms of shared values as well as in geography. While politicians from Chicago are trying to make Illinois the most abortion-friendly state in the Union, government officials in Louisiana are actively seeking to bring the murderous practice of killing unborn babies to an end in their state.
Louisiana Gov. John Edwards signed a bill on May 30, 2019 that would “prohibit the abortion of an unborn human being with a detectable heartbeat,” which can occur as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. Edwards, who describes himself as a “pro-life” Democrat, said, “I have been true to my word and my beliefs on this issue.” He is to be commended for his courageous stance on this important issue, especially since most members of his party reject this position. As usually is the case in these matters, whether or not this law that protects human life will ever go into effect is unfortunately tied up in federal court.
In another case, lawyers for the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office will appear before the United States Supreme Court next month to defend a 2014 Louisiana law requiring doctors who perform the procedure to have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals, which would enable physicians to send a patient to a specific hospital and provide medical services there if needed. Of course, abortion providers are also challenging this requirement in court, despite the fact that the law would help to protect the health and safety of women and their babies.
The legal issue at stake in this case is whether abortion providers can sue on behalf of their clients. Louisiana argues that abortion providers do not have patients’ best interests in mind and therefore should not be allowed to sue on women’s behalf. The American Medical Association disagrees, saying that medical research has shown that “abortion remains extremely safe,” which is a false and reckless statement to make given the fact that each and every abortion results in the death of one of the doctor’s patients.
While it is sad to see abortionists who totally disregard the humanity of the unborn baby, it is even more troubling to see Catholics who are falling into the trap of this faulty thinking. In this regard, I was deeply dismayed to hear recently that some parents filed a complaint against one of our Catholic school teachers for teaching that abortion is wrong! Any teacher in our Catholic schools who teaches that abortion is a grave sin and a serious wrong has my full one hundred percent support.
At the same time, parents are reminded that they signed a “Catholic Schools Agreement” when they enrolled their children in one of our Catholic schools, which states, “We understand and agree that our child(ren) will be taught the teachings of the Catholic Church in their fullness even if we are living a way of life that is contrary to those teachings.” This includes the teaching, as Pope Francis has said, that abortion is a “very grave sin” and a “horrendous crime.” Teaching truths such as respect for human life from the moment of conception is one of the hallmarks that distinguishes our Catholic schools from public schools.
So, it was highly encouraging to join with an estimated 500,000 people in the March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 24, including nine busloads of young people from our diocese, many of whom are students in our Catholic schools. It was heartening to hear the President of the United States deliver a message at the March for Life in person for the first time, saying, “All of us here understand an eternal truth: Every child is a precious and sacred gift from God. Together, we must protect, cherish, and defend the dignity and the sanctity of every human life. When we see the image of a baby in the womb, we glimpse the majesty of God’s creation. When we hold a newborn in our arms, we know the endless love that each child brings to a family. When we watch a child grow, we see the splendor that radiates from each human soul.”
We pray that more government officials like President Donald Trump and Gov. Edwards of Louisiana will not only speak out against abortion but take effective action to bring the shameful scourge of abortion in our nation to an end.
May God give us this grace. Amen.