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Who are the 13 Catholic senators who voted for ‘shameful’ pro-abortion bill?

Katie Yoder   By Katie Yoder for CNA

(Image: Andy Feliciotti |

Thirteen Catholic lawmakers in the U.S. Senate voted Monday in favor of a failed attempt to pass a sweeping new abortion law that threatened to override states’ pro-life laws and remove restrictions on abortion up to the point of birth, in some cases.

Their support of the defeated bill, called the Women’s Health Protection Act, placed them sharply at odds with the clear teaching of their Catholic faith, which strictly prohibits abortion and condemns efforts to promote it. Church leaders and Catholic pro-life advocates were quick to criticize the senators’ votes after the measure was defeated on Feb. 28.

“Catholics are tired of seeing their faith used as a political football on the campaign trail, then thrown aside by Catholic political figures when they need to vote along the party line against the Church’s most fundamental moral teachings,” Joshua Mercer, the communications director for CatholicVote, said Monday.

“One of the standout examples tonight was Sen. Bob Casey, a self-proclaimed Catholic who has again and again presented himself to Catholic voters as pro-life.”

Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence, Rhode Island, took to Twitter to denounce that state’s two Democrat senators  — Jack Reed, a Catholic, and Sheldon Whitehouse — for supporting what Tobin called a “very extreme pro-abortion bill.”

“Shameful. The judgement will be God’s,” he tweeted, citing Pope Francis statement that abortion is murder.

The following Catholic senators voted in favor of the bill: Maria Cantwell, D-Wash.; Bob Casey, D-Penn; Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev.; Dick Durbin, D-Ill.; Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.; Tim Kaine, D-Va.; Mark Kelly, D-Ariz.; Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.; Ed Markey, D-Mass.; Bob Menendez, D-N.J.; Patty Murray, D-Wash.; Alex Padilla, D-Calif., and Jack Reed, D-R.I.

While Ben Ray Luján, D-N.M., was absent, he co-sponsored the bill.

Another Catholic, President Joe Biden, strongly supported the measure and would have signed it into law.

“At a time when women’s access to reproductive health care is under increased assault in states across the country, it is extremely disappointing that Senate Republicans blocked passage of the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would strengthen health care access and codify constitutional rights affirmed half a century ago by Roe v. Wade and in subsequent Supreme Court precedent,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a March 1 statement. “This is a moment for us to recommit to strengthening access to women’s health care, defend the constitutional right affirmed by Roe, and protect the freedom of all people to build their own future.”

A hedge against Roe’s demise

Pro-choice Democrats sought to pass the bill to enshrine and even broaden the legalized abortion framework created 49 years ago by the landmark Roe v. Wade decision.

The urgency to pass the bill stemmed from fears that the U.S. Supreme Court may strike down Roe later this year in the Mississippi abortion case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

In the end, though, the bill failed to garner the 60 votes needed to overcome a Republican filibuster. The final vote — 46 for and 48 against the WHPA — fell mostly along party lines, with just one Democrat, Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, voting against it.

In a Feb. 28 press release, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, chairman of the Committee for Religious Liberty, criticized the WHPA, also known as H.R. 3755.

“The failure to advance this extreme measure today is a tremendous relief,” the prelates stated. “Passing H.R. 3755 would have led to the loss of millions of unborn lives and left countless women to suffer from the physical and emotional trauma of abortion.”

“Rather than providing comprehensive material and social support for a challenging pregnancy, H.R. 3755 fails women and young girls in need by instead offering a free abortion as the ‘solution’ to their difficulty,” they added. “Women deserve better than this. We implore Congress to promote policies that recognize the value and human dignity of both mother and child.”

Clear Church teaching

The Catholic Church condemns abortion in the strongest possible terms.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, which summarizes Church teaching, recognizes the inherent dignity and worth of the unborn human person and considers abortion a “crime against human life.”

“Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception,” the catechism reads. “From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person – among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life.”

In his Evangelium Vitae encyclical, Pope St. John Paul II addressed abortion in light of politics.

“I repeat once more that a law which violates an innocent person’s natural right to life is unjust and, as such, is not valid as a law,” he wrote. “For this reason I urgently appeal once more to all political leaders not to pass laws which, by disregarding the dignity of the person, undermine the very fabric of society.”

The “Church encourages political leaders, starting with those who are Christians, not to give in, but to make those choices which, taking into account what is realistically attainable, will lead to the re- establishment of a just order in the defence and promotion of the value of life,” he added.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith later explained the late pontiff’s teaching in a doctrinal note on “The Participation of Catholics in Political Life.”

“John Paul II, continuing the constant teaching of the Church, has reiterated many times that those who are directly involved in lawmaking bodies have a grave and clear obligation to oppose any law that attacks human life,” it read. “For them, as for every Catholic, it is impossible to promote such laws or to vote for them.”

A total of 11 Catholic senators, including Manchin, voted against the WHPA. They are: Mike Braun, R-Ind.; Susan Collins, R-Maine; John Hoeven, R-N.D.; Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.; Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska; Jim Risch, R-Idaho; Mike Rounds, R-S.D.; Marco Rubio, R-Fla.; Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska; Thom Tillis, R-N.C., and Pat Toomey, R-Penn.

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  1. I am happily surprised to see that Sen. Susan Collins from my home state of Maine didn’t vote for this. Those who did, be they ‘catholic’ or not have much to answer for.

  2. When will CNA interview Cardinals Cupich, Tobin and Gregory, as well as Bishops McElroy and Stowe for their reaction to the pro-abortion efforts of Biden and these fake Catholic senators? Somehow these guys always escape the tough questions

  3. It is indicative of the colossal stupidity of these politicos that they inevitably consider the imaginary bogeyman climate change to be an “existential threat,” while voting in favor of the absolutely and literally existence-ending abortion every time they possibly can.


  4. 1) Life begins at conception
    2) That which is conceived begins to grow and so
    3) If it’s growing – it’s ALIVE. Get it?

    Surely that’s not too confusing to understand.

  5. A new baby, and the related changes to lifestyle, is an investment in Life.

    Where does Life come from?

    Pray for the conversion of the left, while tempering Hope with the realization we have free will.

  6. No surprise at all. The Religion of these Senators is not Catholic, it is “Progressive”Government Control.

  7. Imagine causing just one life to be lost through abortion — a life of infinite possibilities, limitless meaning, unfathomable beauty, — not to mention cuteness, funniness and love; in short, the very image of God.

    Unthinkable, right?

    Now, multiply that loss times hundreds of millions, all around the world.

    Now you have a picture of the satanic nature of the Democratic Party. And its soul-numbed, group-thinking minions in the American Catholic Church.

    May God somehow have mercy on their souls.

  8. Thank you for identifying these individuals: They are great examples for my kids as to how NOT to live your life as a follower of Jesus Christ. I don’t get to decide but I am pretty sure that heaven was not made for inauthentic fools such as these.

  9. So, what specific actions have the USCCB and the respective bishops to condemn personally and directly and to excommunicate these apostate pseudo-Catholics? Nothing? Still once again? Even after 50 years? As far as I am concerned, this article is useless chit-chat since it fails to confront the reality of both the morally corrupt politicians and their morally corrupt bishops.

    • You’re right, Paul. That’s the point here.

      The bishops have done little or nothing to protect our innocent unborn children from the most hideous deaths imaginable.

      Nor have they protected the faithful from scandal.

      It’s hard for me to believe that the bishops actually believe in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. If they did, how could they possibly fail to save Jesus from the defilement of being joined with mass murderers?

  10. Why is it shameful? The pope welcomed Biden and pelosi with open arms, hugs , handshakes during a pandemic. They recieve holy communion and ashes on their forehead. Don’t blame the senators blame the bishops cardinals and the pope who by their silence and willingness go along with them.

  11. NOT SO FAST! To win the day Marxist’s will ‘take one step backward in order to take two steps forward”—and THE DEVIL NEVER SLEEPS. Does Catholic News Agency realize that on February 28 Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins filed the Reproductive Choice Act as an Amendment to the Women’s Health Protection Act (WHPA) as well as, a “standalone” bill? That is the same day that these Senators vote against WHPA.

    Hold the praise until we read the whole story.
    Must read:

    Yes, the devil never sleeps and pro death politicians never quit! The named bishops in this article did not point out that approximately 2,500 American preborn babies die each day, that many of the abortion clinics are located near black communities and higher educational institutions. Why? With all the rhetoric from the USCCB about racism, Peace and Justice, Catholic Social Principles, War and Peace, the war on the preborn is not addressed! In other words, “Nothing changes, until something changes.”

    It’s 65 years past time for the clergy to talk about real discrimination, that is, equal education for those living in poverty and the absence of fathers in poverty- stricken communities, rather than spending incredible time, organizing and implementing synodality across the world.

    • Questions:
      –When will the USCCB, as a body, paste the label of “discrimination” on the atrocious act of destroying the gestating, unique human being in the womb? Maybe waving the PC flag of, “just barely touching the surface” looks good on paper. It does not fool the, would be, St. Thomas More’s of this world.

      –When will the USCCB actually employ the use of scientific facts in their instructions? We have plenty knowledgeable people on this planet to aid in this endeavor.

      Enough of the milquetoast comments from the leaders of the Catholic Church. Get down to the business of fulfilling your teaching office. Your reward will be great and faithful Catholics will thank you.

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