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Op-ed

Catholic leaders: Maryland bill would ‘expand an already extreme abortion landscape’ | GUEST COMMENTARY

Over the past two years, our state has been confronted with incredible challenges; all of us have been touched in some way by the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the hardships and differing views about how to face them, Marylanders have demonstrated that strength is found when we remain unified. The pandemic has invited us to place our lives in service of others, and we have found ways to lift one another from the darkness of suffering to discover a renewed sense of hope in the goodness of others.

Unfortunately, that unity is once again being threatened by an issue that has polarized Americans for nearly 50 years. There is a disturbing proposal making its way through the legislative process in Annapolis that seeks to enshrine abortion in our state’s constitution. House Bill 1171 is an attempt to unnecessarily amend Maryland’s Constitution to expand an already extreme abortion landscape under the guise of “reproductive liberty.”

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Maryland is already one of the most abortion-permissive states in the nation. And even if the United States Supreme Court were to strike down the current federal standard for abortions, the laws in states like Maryland would remain in effect. From COVID to racist acts of violence to crime in our communities, our nation and our state have spoken with a united voice in calling for greater respect for human dignity and for human life. Yet, the legislature is wasting time and resources on an unnecessary, symbolic gesture to make it harder to protect life. Instead, shouldn’t we, including churches, government agencies and others, be investing resources into helping those women who feel they have no option but to choose abortion by providing them and their babies with those basic necessities that will allow them to live justly and with dignity?

Maryland women, including women of color, immigrants and those living in poverty, want support that will allow them a true decision and the choice to be able to achieve their dreams and to raise their children. House Bill 1171 promotes unwanted abortion to women who are already marginalized. It underestimates the resiliency and abilities of women to parent and pursue their dreams at the same time. It is not more abortion that Maryland needs, but a clear understanding of the diverse demographics in our state in order to provide support and resources for growing families.

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As a state, we must find ways to overcome racial, economic, and emotional barriers that cause women to believe their only response to pregnancy is abortion. Women and their children need access to life affirming and affordable health care, housing, gainful employment, prenatal care, and child care. As the Catholic Church in Maryland, we remain committed to helping women and children in need not only throughout pregnancy but the whole life of the child. We have done this and will continue to do this through the support of pregnancy centers, as well as our network of schools, hospitals, parishes and the outstanding work of Catholic Charities.

Abortion is an issue that has divided our state and nation for decades. The passage of H.B. 1171 will further this deep divide by disrupting the laws already in place that safeguard life and freedom of conscience and prevent even modest laws to protect life from being enacted. Let us, instead, continue to push for ways of dignifying every life, of lifting up every woman and of promoting the dignity and value of every person.

William E. Lori is the archbishop of Baltimore.

Wilton Cardinal Gregory is the archbishop of Washington D.C.

William E. Koenig is bishop of the Diocese of Wilmington, Delaware.


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