The state of New Jersey has never been a bastion of pro-life legislative protection for vulnerable human beings who happen to reside within their mothers. But the new state law that permits killing babies up to birth is the worst action the elected of the state have ever committed against their youngest constituency.
Governor Murphy is infamously on record saying of the radical abortion law he signed that the law was needed to ensure that women who wanted to abort their children would not have to pay too much for the surgical intervention. He further described abortion as “time-sensitive care.”
And yet, through the five days of the legislative battle to pass this law, which ultimately gained the support of both houses—23-15 in the Senate and 46-23 in the Assembly—the bishops were nowhere to be found.
I find this more than a little strange given the fact that once the proposal became state law and the governor signed it, any statement they made would have been too little too late. And yes, the silence of the bishops was broken after the governor’s signature had been affixed.
In my mind, this is the most tragic aspect of the New Jersey Freedom of Reproductive Choice Act. Just consider the choice of words in these three examples taken directly from this new law:
- Abortion is one of the safest medical procedures performed in the United States. In March 2018, experts at the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine published a study confirming that scientific evidence consistently indicates that legal abortions in the United States are extremely safe.
- Restrictions placed on abortion services also often have a disparate impact that is predominantly felt by persons who already experience barriers to health care, including young women, women of color, women with disabilities, women with a low-income, women who live in rural areas, immigrants, and transgender and non-binary individuals.
- “Abortion” means any medical treatment, including, but not limited to, the prescription of medication, that is intended to cause the termination of a pregnancy, except for the purposes of increasing the probability of a live birth, removing an ectopic pregnancy, or managing a miscarriage.
This law equates the killing of a member of the human family with just another safe medical procedure. It signals the ongoing drumbeat of abortion advocates across the land by saying that decriminalized abortion should be available to the most marginalized in our midst without, of course, pointing out that the people to which it refers are actually little babies.
And finally, the law invites prescription medicine abortion that can be done in the home without medical supervision.
Yet the bishops simply said during the five-day debate over this proposal that they would have liked more to time to provide “input and feedback.”
Whatever happened to total opposition to abortion and the unleashing of every tool at their disposal to stop the proposal?
It is astounding that New Jersey’s Catholic bishops—Cardinal Tobin and Bishops Cruz, Flesey, Lorenzo, Saporito, and Studerus—lifted nary a finger to end the madness. No wonder Catholic laity are dismayed and disheartened.
It is long past time for bishops to end their conscious decision to avoid getting involved in what they see as political actions rather than making it perfectly clear that abortion is not a political matter; it is a question of life or death for a member of our human family.
While I cannot look back and assure anyone reading this that the New Jersey Freedom of Reproductive Choice Act would have failed if the bishops had done due diligence and rallied their troops to stop this law from passing—even if they had a mere five days to do it—the fact is that we will never know.
It is a bit too late for lamentation, dear Bishops, but introspection is in order.