In ancient Israel, God’s people were surrounded by pagan cultures who worshipped the god Moloch with rituals that included the sacrifice of babies in hopes they might mollify his wrath.
Three thousand years later, Western culture still promotes the wanton sacrifice of innocent unborn children in the womb as evidenced by the recent law enacted in New York and signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. And, if Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam is to be believed, such sentiments apparently even permit infanticide, the murder of a child outside the womb.
For more than two millennia, the Catholic Church has promoted a culture of life and respect for every human person from conception to natural death. It is for this reason the Church in Oklahoma has supported meaningful legislative efforts to roll back the heinous practice of abortion in hopes of bringing it to an end.
We are encouraged by Oklahoma’s leaders who, over the past 46 years since the dreadful Roe v. Wade court decision, have consistently voted to regulate the practice of abortion and reduce the number of incidents in our state.
This legislative session, however, poses a predicament for those of us in favor of life with the introduction of Senate Bill 13. The bill, which purports to “abolish abortion,” may in practice actually expand it.
First, this measure as written almost certainly will be deemed unconstitutional by the Oklahoma State Supreme Court. Such a ruling would serve to bolster Roe v. Wade as “law of the land.”
What’s more, the bill repeals all existing regulations we have worked so diligently to enact. Among these important regulations repealed by SB13 is Oklahoma’s ban on partial birth abortion.
Worse, the state supreme court could elect to leave these “bad” parts of the legislation intact thereby opening up our state to increased abortions, not banning them.
Proponents of the bill argue that only an all-or-nothing political approach to ending abortion is acceptable. While we agree that completely ending abortion is the goal, we cannot ignore the reality that our progress over these decades equates to human lives saved.
If we apply the absolutist view to the question of slavery, we quickly see its fundamental flaw. Recall that Abraham Lincoln’s famous Emancipation Proclamation only freed seven of every eight slaves in America. Several states were exempted from the edict.
If we would have followed similar all-or-nothing logic then and opposed the freeing of slaves, we would have missed the opportunity to take significant steps toward freedom for all. It was necessary to work incrementally until the day we were able to throw off slavery altogether.
Similarly, we must continue to work diligently, united in common cause to save innocent human lives. We must oppose efforts that, intentionally or unintentionally, expand abortion in our state. It is for these reasons we have strongly urged legislators to oppose Senate Bill 13.
–Most Reverend Paul S. Coakley, Archbishop of Oklahoma City and Most Reverend David Konderla, Bishop of Tulsa