The church‘s well-documented support and concern for infants in the womb does not end once those children are born, noted a May 12 statement from the Roman Catholic bishops of New York State.
“Any woman – regardless of age, religious belief or affiliation, marital status or immigration status – who is pregnant and in need can come to the Catholic Church and we will provide you with the services and support you need to carry your baby to term, regardless of your ability to pay,” the Bishops pledged. “Furthermore, we will not abandon you and your baby after delivery, but rather, we will ensure that you have the resources you and your child need and deserve.”
The bishops’ statement comes amid a high-profile debate over abortion following the May 2 leak of a draft opinion in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case. The leaked draft seems to indicate that the court is ready to reverse the 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade, who legalized abortion in the United States.
Although Roe v. Wade is overturned, existing state laws will allow abortions to continue in New York, the bishops acknowledged in their statement, titled “Towards a pro-life future in the Empire State.”
Challenges of unplanned pregnancy noted
Bishops, including Bishop Salvatore R. Matano of the Diocese of Rochester, have also acknowledged the legitimate fears and anxieties of women facing unplanned pregnancies. They may wonder, for example, how they will support older children with another baby on the way, whether the babies’ fathers will abandon them, or how to access childcare when they return to work. Without answers to these questions, these women may believe that abortion is their only choice.
“The challenges of an unplanned pregnancy are difficult. This represents a pastoral challenge for bishops, clergy, Church leaders and, indeed, for all the Catholic faithful,” the bishops wrote. “Often the Catholic Church is unjustly accused of being more concerned with the baby in the womb than with the mother and the child once the child is born. As false as this notion is, it is incumbent upon us as shepherds to recognize and correct this misperception.
Support for pregnant women and families
To that end, the bishops have launched a website containing a wealth of resources for pregnant women, mothers and children. The list is organized by diocese, and the section for the Diocese of Rochester contains a link to the Diocesan Life Affairs Office. LifeROC.org website.
The LifeROC website offers help finding crisis pregnancy centers throughout the diocese, resources for women and children in need of shelter, and information about the school district’s young mothers program. of Rochester City. It also includes a page on Elizabeth Ministry, raising awareness for families dealing with miscarriage and infant loss.
The bishops of New York have recognized that they cannot undertake this work in a vacuum.
“We call on every Catholic parish, every Catholic charities program, every Catholic health care facility, every Catholic school, every Catholic college and university, and every religious community in our state to make a meaningful commitment. proactive with us in this pastoral effort,” they wrote.
Legislative help for mothers and children
National and local elected officials must also do their part to care for mothers and children, the Bishops continued. Abortion was legalized in New York State three years before Roe v. Wade did not make it legal nationwide, and the 2019 Reproductive Health Act legalized abortion during all nine months of pregnancy. State taxpayers currently fund abortion through Medicaid, and as of this year, virtually all health insurance plans in New York are required to cover abortion.
“Meanwhile, support programs for women who choose to keep their babies, to the extent that they exist, are underfunded and not well promoted. Yet many political leaders tend to speak more to abortion providers and advocates than to women who might well make a different choice, if only they knew about it and had other options,” the Bishops said. .
The annulment of Roe v. Wade wouldn’t stop abortions in New York, so government officials have ‘nothing to lose and everything to gain’ in working to boost support for pregnant women and families, which could lower the rate abortions in the state. It is possible to create a culture of life in New York State if politicians work with Catholics and Catholic entities, the Bishops said.
“Let us not place our trust in mere judges, legislators, governors or presidents. Let us rather put our faith in God, for whom nothing is impossible. Politicians can change policies and laws, but only God can convert hearts and minds,” the bishops wrote.
The bishops also asked Catholics to pray for Mary’s intercession to end abortion.
“Let’s work to make New York a state where even if abortion is not illegal, it will one day be unthinkable,” they wrote.