By Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York
The last several years have clearly been challenging for the pro-life movement. The abortion industry, exposing its false rhetoric of choice, increasingly seeks to coerce Americans to be complicit with abortion, even insisting that abortion is a social good to be celebrated, subsidized and uncontrolled.
Its coercive agenda seeks to force taxpayer funding of abortion by repealing the popular, long-standing and bipartisan federal policy known as the Hyde Amendment. It includes a campaign to force health care providers and plans to participate in or pay for abortion.
The abortion industry even succeeded in getting the Supreme Court to invalidate common-sense abortion clinic regulations that protect the health and safety of women seeking abortion.
Sadly, the Obama administration has been an ally to abortion advocates in advancing such oppressive policies. It imposed the so-called HHS mandate forcing even religious organizations to cover contraceptives, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs in their health insurance plans.
It refused to enforce federal conscience protections on abortion and it is currently proposing regulations intended to prohibit states from denying funding to Planned Parenthood through the Title X family planning program.
Given all of this, it is fair to say that the presidential election offers the pro-life movement some cautious optimism. At least at the level of rhetoric, President-elect Donald Trump indicated support for renewed opportunities to protect women and children from abortion and to protect pro-life Americans from forced complicity in it.
The president-elect said he would make the Hyde Amendment permanent law, would sign a ban on late-term abortions, would defund Planned Parenthood and would nominate pro-life justices to the Supreme Court.
On his transition page, www.greatagain.gov, he promises to “protect individual conscience in health care” and “protect innocent human life from conception to natural death, including the most defenseless and those Americans with disabilities.”
We certainly hope that the policies pursued by the president-elect and his administration will match these promises. In particular, we are eager to see immediate enforcement of federal conscience protections on abortion and elimination of the contraceptive mandate.
We also hope to see progress toward a majority of Supreme Court justices who will reform the injustice and travesty of Roe v. Wade.
Pro-life Americans cannot be complacent in the months and years to come. It will be essential that we hold our new president and his administration accountable to the pro-life promises they’ve made.
As for Congress, it appears that the election left intact a pro-life majority (at least with regard to abortion) in both the House and Senate (albeit a somewhat slimmer majority).
The House has a solid pro-life majority and, as in recent years, should be able to advance pro-life policies. The Senate will continue to be a challenge for advancing pro-life legislation because of its 60-vote threshold for overcoming a filibuster.
Unfortunately, one tragic outcome of the Nov. 8 election was the legalization of doctor-prescribed suicide by the voters in Colorado, making it the fifth state to formally legalize the practice. And just one week after the election, the District of Columbia became the next jurisdiction to embrace assisted suicide.
Proponents have made no secret of their strategy to advance assisted suicide one state at a time. They are well-funded, persistent and working in every state to advance their deadly agenda.
The pro-life movement must match or exceed their efforts and put a stop to this encroachment of the culture of death, offering in its place a renewed commitment to real compassion and solidarity through quality end-of-life care.
Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York is the chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities.
This is a first in a series of columns from leading archbishops on key issues facing the church and the new Trump administration