WASHINGTON - Since the release of the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Congress has been taking up legislative proposals that are harmful to the common good.
The U.S. House of Representatives has passed, and the Senate may soon consider, a series of such bills, including the Women’s Health Protection Act, the Respect for Marriage Act, and the Right to Contraception Act, and is advancing appropriations bills that exclude longstanding provisions prohibiting federal taxpayer funding for abortion and protecting the conscience rights of healthcare providers.
Meanwhile, Congress has taken no action since Dobbs on any of the following measures, which the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has previously endorsed and continues to support, and which would help to build up a culture of life: the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act; an expanded child tax credit, including for pregnant moms; the Adoption Tax Credit Refundability Act; the PFAS Action Act; and a federal paid family leave policy. On a positive note, it is encouraging that there is meaningful consideration of needed investments in care for our common home in a possible reconciliation framework.
In light of this situation, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Pro-Life Activities, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee for Religious Liberty, Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone of San Francisco, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life & Youth, and Archbishop Paul S. Coakley of Oklahoma City, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, issued the following statement:
“The Dobbs decision presents a historic opportunity to reshape society for the better. The injustice of abortion has loosened its grip on our nation’s Constitution. We call on Congress to seize this hopeful moment by coming together around the dignity of every human person and the common good.
“This begins with the recognition that every human life is an inestimable gift from God with an inalienable right to life deserving of full legal protection. We must also recognize that the family - founded upon the love and mutual self-gift of husband and wife - is the first building block of society, and that raising children is both a great gift and a lifelong responsibility.
“The health, safety, and support of the family should be the focus of all good policy-making. A principled commitment to being pro-life entails a commitment both to protecting all human life, especially the most vulnerable, and to advancing policies that help families to flourish. As we accompany every family with prayer and support, those led by single or adoptive parents are close to our hearts.
“Since Dobbs, too many in Congress have ignored bills that would advance these worthy goals and have focused instead on bills that would attack them. Such legislation places no value on the lives of children until their moment of birth, severs sex and marriage from their meaning, promotes using people as means to ends, and would strip rights of conscientious objection from those who oppose these hallmarks of the throwaway culture. Instead, we ask all our elected officials to take action to reach consensus and pass an expanded child tax credit, a refundable adoption tax credit, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, a federal paid family leave policy, further supports for the health and wellbeing of pregnant and parenting women, assistance with nutrition and affordable housing, environmental restrictions on chemicals that cause birth defects, and provisions to assist low-income families. These are building blocks of our vision for Standing with Moms in Need.
“Care for creation is also integral to care for human life, and we encourage continued efforts to advance proposals that will protect our common home and promote the well-being of human life and the environment for years to come. For more on this point, see the USCCB’s letter on the new framework for environmental investment currently before Congress.
“Families and individuals, civil society, businesses, non-profits, and religious groups, government officials at all levels - and especially members of Congress - should ask themselves how they are supporting families at this moment, particularly around welcoming new life and raising children through adulthood.
“Catholic social teaching shows the way to a better place - a society marked by justice, mutual support, civility, friendship, mercy, and love - than where Congress is now leading. We pray that Congress will rise to meet this generational moment.”