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US Cardinal Backs Pregnant Women Support Act

Says No Woman Should Be Forced to Choose Abortion

WASHINGTON, D.C., APRIL 27, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities is appealing to congressmen to back a bill that will provide immediate support for pregnant women and their families.

Cardinal Justin Rigali stated this in a letter to all U.S. representatives, urging them to support and co-sponsor the Pregnant Women Support Act, reintroduced into the House on Wednesday by Congressman Lincoln Davis.

The letter, sent Friday, noted that "in a society where disagreements on abortions and the rights of the unborn child seem persistent and intractable, there are some statements that almost everyone can endorse."

The cardinal continued: "First, the fact that over a million abortions take place every year in this country is a tragedy, and we should at least take steps to reduce abortions.

"Second, no woman should ever have to undergo an abortion because she feels she has no other choice, or because alternatives were unavailable or not made known to her.

"An abortion performed under such social and economic duress meets no one's standard for 'freedom of choice.'"

The letter explained some points of "life-affirming support" provided for pregnant women through this act, including: the elimination of "pregnancy as a 'preexisting condition' that can be used to deny health coverage for women; grants to support centers providing alternatives to abortion; assistance encouraging colleges and universities to provide support for pregnant and parenting students."

The act also includes increased support for adoption programs and services for pregnant women at risk from domestic violence.

Cardinal Rigali noted that the act will enable states to provide insurance coverage to unborn children and mothers who may not otherwise be eligible.

He added that the act "reaches out to women with a helping hand when they are most vulnerable, and most engaged in making a decision about life or death for their unborn children."

Common ground
The letter continued, "It provides an authentic common ground, an approach that people can embrace regardless of their position on other issues."

It pointed out that this act does not raise the issue of "seeking to reduce pregnancies through government promotion of contraceptives, which recently created so much controversy when it was inappropriately proposed for inclusion in an economic stimulus package."

"That issue," the cardinal added, "raises serious questions regarding priorities in health care as well as the conscience rights of patients and health care providers, which demand a serious debate of their own."

He asserted that "many studies have concluded that programs for ensuring access to contraception do not reduce abortion rates."

Cardinal Rigali affirmed that these discussions will continue, but in the meantime, "pregnant women need our assistance now so that abortion is not promoted to them as their only choice."

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