Mass. bishops call on parishioners to oppose ROE Act

BRAINTREE -- With seven months left in the current legislative session, the Massachusetts Catholic Conference is once again asking Catholic voters to voice their opposition to proposed legislation that would expand access to abortion in the commonwealth.

The MCC is distributing a bulletin insert for pastors to include in their parish bulletins the weekend of Jan. 19. The one-page insert provides information about two proposed bills being considered by the Joint Committee on the Judiciary at the Massachusetts State House, as well as instructions for how to contact legislators to encourage them to oppose this legislation.

The two bills in question are House Bill 3320, "An act removing obstacles and expanding access to women's reproductive health," and Senate Bill 1209, "An act to remove obstacles and expand abortion access." These two bills share the same acronym, ROE, which was the pseudonym used by the plaintiff of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court case that ended with the decision to legalize abortion in the United States.

If the proposed bills become law, they would allow abortions to be performed at any point during pregnancy, and provide state funding for women who cannot afford to pay for an abortion. They would also eliminate several legal requirements: that late-term abortions must take place in a hospital, that a child who survives an attempted abortion must receive medical care, and that a minor must have parental or judicial consent to undergo an abortion.

The four Massachusetts bishops -- Cardinal Seán O'Malley of Boston, Worcester Bishop Robert McManus, Springfield Bishop Mitchell Rozanski, and Fall River Bishop Edgar da Cunha -- had previously released a statement on April 12, 2019, to inform Catholics about the ROE Act and ask them to contact their representatives and voice their opposition to it.

"The supporters of these bills argue the proposed changes to Massachusetts law are simply intended to protect a woman's right to an abortion in the event the United States Supreme Court overturns the 1973 decision in the case of Roe v. Wade. However, in reality, these bills would create a significant expansion of current Massachusetts state law," the bishops said in their April statement.

Cardinal O'Malley is releasing a letter of his own for pastors in the Archdiocese of Boston to include in their parish bulletins, along with the conference's insert. The cardinal is also asking that his letter be read aloud from the pulpit at the end of each Mass celebrated during the weekend of Jan. 19.

"With your help and the help of your family, friends, and neighbors, we must make every effort to ensure that these bills do not become law in Massachusetts. Your voice and the voices of all opposed to unprecedented expansion of abortion will make a difference. It is of critical importance that the women and men who represent us in the Legislature know where we stand on the protection of life," Cardinal O'Malley said in his letter.

The legislative session will end on July 31, 2020.