By Dan Gilgoff, God & Country
When's the last time you heard Catholic bishops praise the Democrats on the abortion issue? Don't worry—I can't remember either.
But Cardinal Justin Rigali, who chairs the Committee on Pro-Life Activities for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, issued a letter today urging passage of the Pregnant Women Support Act, the Democrats' main legislative vehicle for their "abortion reduction" program. During Barack Obama's presidential inauguration, Rigali quietly convened a meeting of antiabortion activists to devise a strategy to combat an expected Obama/Democratic assault on antiabortion policies, so this is a significant development.
Rigali has written to all members of the House of Representatives urging support for the Pregnant Women Support Act, which was introduced this week by Rep. Lincoln Davis, a Democrat from Tennessee.
I'll be watching to see how antiabortion groups and antiabortion Republican lawmakers react to the bill. Much of the antiabortion movement has been highly skeptical of the Democrats' abortion reduction plan so far, but it's going to be tough to challenge the antiabortion bona fides of the Catholic bishops' pro-life committee chief.
Read the full text of Rigali's letter here.
An excerpt from the Conference of Catholic Bishops' press release:
"The Pregnant Women Support 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," Cardinal Rigali said.
The Cardinal said that the PWSA offers "an authentic common ground, an approach that people can embrace regardless of their position on other issues."
"There are some statements that almost everyone can endorse. 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," said Cardinal Rigali.
"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 Cardinal continued.