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Bishops oppose pro-abortion amendment

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SAN DIEGO — The leak of a draft U.S. Supreme Court ruling in a case affecting the future of Roe v. Wade and abortion in the United States was met with an immediate response when California’s governor and legislative leadership announced their intent to create a state constitutional amendment protecting the right to an abortion.

California’s bishops, represented by the California Catholic Conference (CCC), quickly announced that they would oppose such an amendment while reaffirming their long-standing commitment to advocate for children and families. San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy is president of the CCC’s board of directors.

In partnership with a wide coalition of people and organizations opposed to abortion, the Conference plans to launch an informational campaign in June to mobilize Catholics in support of families, especially women facing difficult or unexpected pregnancies.

The day after the draft was published, Gov. Gavin Newsom called for an amendment to California’s Constitution to protect abortion rights permanently. Two-thirds of legislators in the Senate and the Assembly will likely approve the amendment, which would then go to voters as a ballot measure in November.

The amendment would “destroy lives, families, and significantly limit the ability of the Catholic Church in California to protect the unborn,” the state’s bishops said in their statement. “This is the moment for the Church and its 12 million Catholics (in California) to engage with their communities to actively and publicly oppose this amendment and fulfill our baptismal responsibility to protect life at every stage and at every opportunity.”

Maria Valencia, who leads the Culture of Life ministry at the San Diego Diocese, urged community members to contact lawmakers directly to oppose the amendment and the more than 20 bills that have been introduced in the state Legislature to expand publicly funded abortion services.

The faithful can sign up to receive “Action Alerts” from the  CCC, which provides information on pending legislation and an easy way to contact lawmakers.

Even though U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts has acknowledged that the leaked document is authentic, it is important to remember that the draft is just that, a draft, and that the case in question is not yet decided.

The court is expected to release its decision and final opinion in late June or early July. The case, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, challenges the constitutionality of a law Mississippi adopted in 2018 that bans most surgical abortions after the first 15 weeks of pregnancy. The case is seen as a test on the court’s landmark ruling in Roe v. Wade, which broadly legalized abortion nearly 50 years ago.

If the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade in the Dobbs decision, the issue would be returned to the states, which would decide whether abortions would be allowed in their state. No change is expected in California,  given the current make-up of the Legislature.

Regardless of what lawmakers do, the Catholic Church will continue to advocate that life begins at conception and support policies and services that assist pregnant women in making life-affirming choices, Valencia said.

The CCC organized the “Born Ready” campaign as a response to the expected ruling overturning Roe. The campaign builds on a statement the California bishops issued in January, committing to a vision of support for women, children and families.

The multi-media, bilingual campaign will propose ways parishes and individual Catholics can take action. These range from using social media to raise awareness of resources in the community that help pregnant women, to donating motel vouchers to a local pregnancy center, to throwing a baby shower for moms at church.

Check the California Catholic Conference website regularly for more information.

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