The Women’s Health Protection Act was defeated in the U. S. Senate on February 28 by a vote of 46 in favor to 48 opposed. The vote was largely along party lines, with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) the only Democrat to cross party lines and vote against the bill. The bill required 60 votes to proceed. Jeanne Mancini, president of March for Life, said of the WHPA that it “would enshrine into federal law abortion on demand until the moment of birth, and it would nullify state laws – new and existing – that protect unborn children and their mothers.” Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) said of the WHPA, “This is talking about stripping away every protection for every child in the womb from any state in the country. … This bill is the one-minute-from-infanticide bill. It mandates abortion in every state up to the moment of birth.”
Laws previously passed by various states, even those that have been upheld by the Supreme Court, would be struck down. According to Brian Burch, president of CatholicVote, if the WHPA becomes law, states could no longer require that abortionists provide women with information about their unborn child, such as how their child develops in the womb, or information on alternatives to abortion. As well, states could no longer impose waiting periods, ban abortions after 20 weeks or after viability, or require that only licensed physicians perform abortions. States would also be unable to protect children from abortions performed based on race, sex, or genetic abnormalities, such as Down syndrome. In effect, it would allow abortion to become a tool for eugenicists, pressuring women to kill off children who are the “wrong” race or sex, or who are not “perfect.”
Burch, writing for RealClearPolitics, says, “Pro-life doctors and nurses would see their ability to opt out of abortion procedures eliminated. Healthcare professionals would be strong-armed into performing and participating in abortions — regardless of whether they have moral objections. The text of the bill says that refusing to participate could result in heavy court damages and fees. Administrators at many hospitals would face internal and external pressure to fire non-compliant pro-life staff members to avoid fines. Catholic hospitals, which in some states make up nearly 40 percent of all hospital beds, would be forced to sell or close.”
The WHPA, which would allow for abortions up to the moment of birth, does not reflect the thinking of the American people. According to a January 2022 Knights of Columbus/Marist poll, while a majority of Americans continue to identify as “pro-choice” on abortion, fully 83%, including a majority of Democrats, reject the idea that that “abortion should be available to a woman any time she wants one during her entire pregnancy.” This demonstrates that Democrats in Congress, as well as President Biden, who has declared his support for the WHPA, are out of touch even with their own party members. Somehow, abortion has become such a sacred cow among the elite in the Democratic Party that they are willing to go to such extremes in attempting to pass legislation that would codify abortion on demand from conception to just before birth. The WHPA passed the House of Representatives last September by a vote of 218-211. Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) was the only Democrat to vote against the bill.
The following senators who identify as Catholic voted in favor of the WHPA:
Maria Cantwell (D-WA)
Bob Casey (D-PA)
Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV)
Dick Durbin (D-IL)
Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
Tim Kaine (D-VA)
Mark Kelly (D-AZ)
Patrick Leahy (D-VT)
Ed Markey (D-MA)
Bob Menendez (D-NJ)
Patty Murray (D-WA)
Alex Padilla (D-CA)
Jack Reed (D-RI)
Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM) was absent for health reasons, but he was a sponsor of the bill.
Catholic senators who voted against the WHPA are:
Mike Braun (R-IN)
Susan Collins (R-ME)
John Hoeven (R-ND)
Joe Manchin (D-WV)
Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
Jim Risch (R-ID)
Mike Rounds (R-SD)
Marco Rubio (R-FL)
Dan Sullivan (R-AK)
Thom Tillis (R-NC)
Pat Toomey (R-PA)
It should be noted that, while Collins and Murkowski voted against the WHPA, they introduced an alternative to the WHPA that would codify Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, but would leave in place state laws that have been upheld by the Supreme Court limiting abortion. So, not as far-reaching or extreme as the WHPA, but still a pro-abortion proposal.
Democrats in Congress are desperate the codify Roe v. Wade in federal law because they are certain that the Supreme Court will overturn Roe when they rule on the Dodd v. Jackson Women’s Health case. The Dodd case considers a Mississippi law that bans abortions after 15 weeks except for medical emergencies or extreme fetal abnormalities. In an effort to mitigate the impact of a Supreme Court ruling that would put abortion policy back in the hands of the state legislatures, Democrats are eager to codify abortion on demand in federal law. The Supreme Court is expected to rule on Dodd this upcoming June.
It seems that, as medical science confirms what most people inherently knew, that human life begins at the moment of conception, and as we learn more details about the development of young human life in utero, the Democrats in Congress have become increasingly extreme in their support for abortion, rejecting all of the evidence, scientific, philosophical, and religious, that affirms the humanity of the one in the womb. Our “devout Catholic” president has himself grown more extreme even since he’s moved into the White House. In prior campaigns, Biden said he agreed with Church teaching that human life begins at conception, only he did not feel he could impose his belief on others (though he has no inhibitions about imposing his beliefs on pro-lifers by requiring them to pay for abortions). Recently, Biden let slip that he does not agree with those who claim that human life begins at conception. The ever-malleable president seems to waffle back and forth, depending on whose vote he hopes to capture. Who knows what position he’ll take in anticipation of 2024?
As laws are proposed that represent the most extreme elements in our political/social/cultural discourse, those that insist on abortion on demand, or that protect the “rights” of even pre-pubescent children to undergo gender-altering therapies, or that seek to wrest from parents their natural position of authority and care over their children, replacing parents with the state (i.e.: with politicians following the recommendations of their favorite “experts”), Catholics are going to have to decide where they stand. Bishops, priests, and all those in positions of leadership in the Church will no longer be able to hide behind a false dichotomy between the faith we proclaim and the faith we attempt to live as responsible members of society. The extremes will force our hands. Good. Of course, we shouldn’t have to wait for extreme measures or proposals to back bishops, priests and others against the wall. We all ought to be speaking forcibly and consistently in favor of the truth, both in word and in action. Soon, no one will any longer be able to pretend that “personally opposed, but…” is a viable option. The challenge Joshua gave to the Israelites at Shechem will be the challenge we are given, and we each must give our answer: “Choose today whom you will serve” (Judges 24:15). In fact, that challenge is already upon us.
Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.