Cardinal Justin Rigali, chairman of the U.S Bishops Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities, has called on members of Congress to endorse the Pregnant Women Support Act (HR 2035), recently introduced by Rep. Lincoln Davis (D-TN). Rigali released a statement on April 26th that read, in part:
In a society where disagreements on abortion and the rights of the unborn child seem persistent and intractable, there are some statements that almost everyone can endorse. First, the fact that over one million abortions take place every year in this country is a tragedy, and we should at least take steps to reduce abortions. Second, no woman should ever have to undergo an abortion because she feels she has no other choice, or because alternatives were not available or were not made known to her. An abortion performed under such social and economic duress meets no one’s standards for ‘freedom of choice.’
The bill reflects a proposal originally developed by Democrats for Life. A list of key provisions is available here. Among other things, the PWSA would prevent insurance companies from denying coverage to pregnant women; establish a toll-free number for resources during pregnancy and after birth; provide new mothers with free home visits by RNs; and codify the current regulation allowing states to provide State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) coverage to unborn children and their mothers.
The timing of Rigali’s statement is interesting, coming as it does after several months of tension between the U.S. bishops and the Obama administration over a range of issues related to the moral and legal status of the unborn. President Obama suggested earlier this week that he is working with a group of pro-life and pro-choice advocates to develop legislation similar to the PWSA. He also indicated that FOCA–a major concern of the bishops–was no longer a major priority for him. One wonders whether the President has realized that he may have some fence-mending to do with the Catholic community. Perhaps Hillary Clinton could provide him with another “reset” button for his next discussion with Cardinal George…:-)