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Pro-abortion Women’s Health Protection Act fails in US Senate

February 28, 2022 Catholic News Agency 2
Senator James Lankford (R-Oklahoma) speaks against the Women’s Health Protection Act on the Senate floor, Feb. 28, 2022. / Screenshot/U.S. Senate

Washington D.C., Feb 28, 2022 / 17:05 pm (CNA).

The U.S. Senate failed to move forward with the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA) on Monday, striking down what some pro-life groups identify as the most radical abortion bill in U.S. history.

The WHPA “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,” Jeanne Mancini, president of the March for Life, warned ahead of the vote.

The Feb. 28 cloture vote, with 46 for and 48 against the WHPA, needed 60 votes to proceed. It fell largely along party lines with only one Democrat (Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia) voting against proceeding with the bill that would override states’ pro-life laws and remove restrictions on abortion up to the point of birth in some cases. No Republicans voted in support of the WHPA.

Why is the Senate voting on the WHPA now?

While the act did not pass, the vote itself was historic. 

Ahead of the vote on Monday, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said on the Senate floor: “This will be the first time that the Senate takes a vote on a standalone bill to proactively codify Roe.”

The Senate’s vote comes as the Supreme Court prepares to issue a ruling later this year in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case that threatens Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion nationwide in 1973. The Dobbs case centers on the question of “Whether all pre-viability prohibitions on elective abortions are unconstitutional,” or whether states can ban abortion before a fetus can survive outside the womb, which the court previously determined to be 24 to 28 weeks into pregnancy.

If the Supreme Court does not uphold Roe when it decides Dobbs, abortion could be left up to individual states. The WHPA threatens these state laws.

“Sadly, it seems like the Supreme Court is posed to severely limit abortion rights in the coming months,” Schumer said Monday. “That’s why this bill is essential.”

During a press conference hosted by Senators Steve Daines, founder and chair of the Senate Pro-Life Caucus, and James Lankford, chair of the Values Action Team, Republican senators criticized the timing of the vote during the invasion of Ukraine and called the WHPA more extreme than Roe.

Daines recognized the WHPA as the “most extreme legislation on abortion ever considered in the history of this body.”

On the Senate floor, Lankford added that the WHPA is “not going to just codify Roe.”

“This is talking about stripping away every protection for every child in the womb from any state in the country.” Later, he added, “This bill is the one-minute-from-infanticide bill. It mandates abortion in every state up to the moment of birth.”

What is the WHPA?

The WHPA would prohibit abortion restrictions or bans “that are more burdensome than those restrictions imposed on medically comparable procedures, do not significantly advance reproductive health or the safety of abortion services, and make abortion services more difficult to access.”

The act’s text lists a series of specific restrictions it would do away with, on everything from limitations on telemedicine to restrictions around viability, which the act defines as the point when a fetus can survive outside the womb — determined by “the good-faith medical judgment of the treating health care provider.”

The WHPA would forbid any kind of limit on abortion before fetal viability, including “a prohibition or restriction on a particular abortion procedure.” After viability, the WHPA would outlaw limits on abortion “when, in the good-faith medical judgment of the treating health care provider, continuation of the pregnancy would pose a risk to the pregnant patient’s life or health.”

National pro-life groups, such as SBA List, have expressed concern over this section because the Supreme Court, in Doe v. Bolton, broadly defined what “may relate to health,” including “all factors — physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman’s age — relevant to the wellbeing of the patient.”

SBA List previously warned that the WHPA would also “nullify pro-life laws in states across the country, including late-term abortion limits when unborn children can feel pain, waiting periods, informed consent laws, antidiscrimination laws, and more.”

Last September, the House passed the WHPA in a vote that fell along party lines, with one Democrat, Rep. Henry Cuellar of Texas, joining Republicans to vote against it. Along the way, the Biden administration repeatedly expressed support for the bill.

Pro-life leaders respond to the vote

Ahead of the vote, multiple pro-life leaders expressed concern over the WHPA and stressed that the act ignored the will of the people.

“The March for Life condemns this bill in the strongest possible terms,” Mancini said. “The misnamed Women’s Health Protection Act is the most radical abortion bill in United States history.” 

She cited a Knights of Columbus/Marist Poll survey released in January that found that 71% of Americans, including 49% of Democrats, want to see abortion limited to – at most – the first three months of pregnancy.

Marjorie Dannenfelser, the president of the Susan B. Anthony List, also criticized the WHPA. 

“Biden, Pelosi and Schumer’s ‘Abortion on Demand Until Birth Act’ would enshrine an unlimited abortion ‘right’ in federal law and block common ground pro-life laws around the country, including limits on late-term abortions when unborn babies feel pain, bans on lethal discrimination abortions, and many more,” she said. “[N]ational Democratic leaders’ support for abortion on demand without limits, at taxpayer expense, is grossly out of step with the will of the American people.” 

As president and founder of Live Action, Lila Rose wanted that if the WHPA passed, it “would be the single most destructive piece of legislation enacted in the history of our nation.”

Like Mancini and Dannenfelser, she said, “The American people do not want this horrific bill aimed exclusively at ensuring the ongoing and expanded destruction of hundreds of thousands of helpless, innocent preborn children.”

“We must walk with families materially, emotionally, and spiritually to show them that they can choose life for their children,” she added. “The Women’s Health Protection Act does the exact opposite, radically expanding the killing of children through all nine months of pregnancy.”

Two senior fellows at The Catholic Association also reacted to the approaching vote.

“In pushing the Women’s Health Protection Act, the Democrats show that their pro-abortion extremism knows no bounds,” Ashley McGuire stressed. “The law, if passed, would override the will of the people in every state that has passed, through legislative means, commonsense protections for women and babies.”

Maureen Ferguson called the WHPA “the most extreme, undemocratic abortion bill ever introduced in Congress.” 

“It would override every limit on abortion everywhere in the country, including limits on late-term abortion, parental consent laws, and conscience protections for doctors and nurses who do not wish to participate in abortions,” she said. “The Women’s Health Protection Act is Roe vs. Wade on steroids.”

[…]

No Picture
News Briefs

Ideas to help you have a fruitful Lent

February 28, 2022 Catholic News Agency 1

Closeup shot of a woman holding her hands together and praying over an open Bible. / Shutterstock

Denver Newsroom, Feb 28, 2022 / 16:10 pm (CNA).
Lent is a time of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. We, as Catholics, are called to walk through th… […]

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News Briefs

Pope Francis reportedly tells Order of Malta leaders there is ‘no urgency’ to complete reforms

February 28, 2022 Catholic News Agency 2
Pope Francis meets with the Order of Malta’s Fra’ Marco Luzzago on June 25, 2021. / Vatican Media

Vatican City, Feb 28, 2022 / 10:05 am (CNA).

Pope Francis reportedly told leaders of the Order of Malta on Saturday that there is “no urgency” to make a final decision on long-awaited reforms.

Marwan Sehnaoui, the chairman of the steering committee for the constitutional reform process, said in a letter that the Feb. 26 meeting at the Vatican was focused on the sovereign order’s ongoing reform.

According to Sehnaoui, Pope Francis opened and closed the two-hour discussion by underlining that ultimately he himself would decide on the “critical issues regarding the order’s constitutional reform.”

“Pope Francis listened carefully to the presentations and interventions of both sides. After the exchange of views, the Holy Father said that there is no urgency in making a final decision. His Holiness also said that he wishes to gather and review more information and that he would probably convene another audience,” Sehnaoui said in his letter.

The papal meeting included the Lieutenant of the Grand Master Fra’ Marco Luzzago, as well as the papal delegate Cardinal Silvano Maria Tomasi, who is overseeing the drafting of the new constitution.

In a statement following the Feb. 26 meeting, Tomasi said that the participants in the meeting had presented to Pope Francis how the proposed reform “maintains and better frames the order in its characteristic of a religious lay order and allows for the continuation of its charitable, diplomatic, and humanitarian action.”

Tomasi said that Pope Francis had granted the Order of Malta another audience, after which the pope will decide on the projects they have presented to him.

The Sovereign Military Order of Malta, as it is officially known, is both a lay religious order of the Catholic Church and a subject of international law. In 2017, Pope Francis ordered reforms of both the order’s religious life and its constitution.

The reform entered a decisive stage in January, when a leaked draft of the order’s new constitution appeared to reveal that the order would be made a subject of the Holy See — a provision that critics said could jeopardize the order’s sovereignty and its bilateral relations with 112 states, as well as its permanent observer status at the United Nations.

But after talks with a Vatican delegate, the order’s Grand Chancellor Albrecht von Boeselager said he had been assured that the order’s sovereignty and right of self-governance were not in danger.

[…]

No Picture
News Briefs

Pope Francis reportedly tells Order of Malta leaders there is ‘no urgency’ to complete reforms

February 28, 2022 Catholic News Agency 1
Pope Francis meets with the Order of Malta’s Fra’ Marco Luzzago on June 25, 2021. / Vatican Media

Vatican City, Feb 28, 2022 / 10:05 am (CNA).

Pope Francis reportedly told leaders of the Order of Malta on Saturday that there is “no urgency” to make a final decision on long-awaited reforms.

Marwan Sehnaoui, the chairman of the steering committee for the constitutional reform process, said in a letter that the Feb. 26 meeting at the Vatican was focused on the sovereign order’s ongoing reform.

According to Sehnaoui, Pope Francis opened and closed the two-hour discussion by underlining that ultimately he himself would decide on the “critical issues regarding the order’s constitutional reform.”

“Pope Francis listened carefully to the presentations and interventions of both sides. After the exchange of views, the Holy Father said that there is no urgency in making a final decision. His Holiness also said that he wishes to gather and review more information and that he would probably convene another audience,” Sehnaoui said in his letter.

The papal meeting included the Lieutenant of the Grand Master Fra’ Marco Luzzago, as well as the papal delegate Cardinal Silvano Maria Tomasi, who is overseeing the drafting of the new constitution.

In a statement following the Feb. 26 meeting, Tomasi said that the participants in the meeting had presented to Pope Francis how the proposed reform “maintains and better frames the order in its characteristic of a religious lay order and allows for the continuation of its charitable, diplomatic, and humanitarian action.”

Tomasi said that Pope Francis had granted the Order of Malta another audience, after which the pope will decide on the projects they have presented to him.

The Sovereign Military Order of Malta, as it is officially known, is both a lay religious order of the Catholic Church and a subject of international law. In 2017, Pope Francis ordered reforms of both the order’s religious life and its constitution.

The reform entered a decisive stage in January, when a leaked draft of the order’s new constitution appeared to reveal that the order would be made a subject of the Holy See — a provision that critics said could jeopardize the order’s sovereignty and its bilateral relations with 112 states, as well as its permanent observer status at the United Nations.

But after talks with a Vatican delegate, the order’s Grand Chancellor Albrecht von Boeselager said he had been assured that the order’s sovereignty and right of self-governance were not in danger.

[…]