WASHINGTON (CNS) – The failure of the United States Senate on February 28 to propose an “extreme measure” to establish a legal right to abortion at any stage of pregnancy nationwide “is a huge relief “said the chairs of the U.S. bishops-religious life and liberty committees.

“We must respect and support mothers, their unborn children, and the conscience of all Americans,” the committee chairs said in a joint statement, noting that a provision in the bill likely would not have protected the rights consciousness of health care providers who oppose abortion. .

The passage of the Women’s Health Protection Act, also known as HR 3755, “would have resulted in the loss of millions of unborn lives and left countless women to suffer the physical and emotional trauma of abortion,” said Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, chairman of the Committee for USCCB Religious Freedom.

In a 46-48 vote, the Senate did not approve a procedure known as closure – which limits debate and ends a filibuster in order to get a vote on a bill. Sixty votes were needed for the closing.

In addition to codifying Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court ruling legalizing abortion nationwide, the bill would have eliminated pro-life laws at all levels of government – including parental notification for underage girls, consent informed and health or safety protections specific to abortion centers.

“HR 3755 would also have required all Americans to support abortions at home and abroad with their tax dollars,” a USCCB press release said. “(It) would also likely have forced health care providers and professionals to perform, assist and/or refer to an abortion against their deeply held beliefs, as well as employers and insurers to cover or pay for the abortion.”

“Rather than providing comprehensive material and social support for a difficult pregnancy, HR 3755 fails women and girls in need by instead offering free abortion as a ‘solution’ to their difficulty,” the statement said. Archbishop Lori and Cardinal Dolan. said in their statement.

“Women deserve better than that. We implore Congress to promote policies that recognize the value and human dignity of mother and child,” they said.

The United States House of Representatives passed HR 3755 in a vote of 218 to 211 on September 24.

Proponents of the bill want to codify Roe in the likelihood that the U.S. Supreme Court will reverse the nearly 50-year-old ruling when it issues its ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a case involving the banning of the Mississippi of most abortions after 15 years. weeks of pregnancy. The decision is expected in June or July.

If Roe is overturned, the court’s decision will leave abortion laws to the states.

After the House vote, U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., called on the Senate to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act, saying the Mississippi case “is the product of Republican attacks against reproductive rights for decades.

If Roe is overturned, the court will “deprive individuals across the country of their right to choose to have an abortion,” said DeLauro, a Catholic.

In a Feb. 23 letter to all U.S. senators, Archbishop Lori and Cardinal Dolan urged them to vote against this “radical bill” to enshrine in law “the murder of defenseless human beings and voiceless”.

“As Pope Francis said of the unborn, ‘their murder in large numbers, with the sanction of States, is a serious problem that undermines the foundations of the construction of justice, compromising the appropriate solution of any other human and social problem'”. they wrote.

“This bill insists that elective abortion, including late elective abortion, is a ‘human right’ and ‘health care for women’ – something that should be promoted, funded and celebrated. “when in fact, they continued, “abortion is the opposite of women’s health care and is an extreme violation of human rights. It has no clear justification in terms of women’s health .

Archbishop Lori and Cardinal Dolan emphasized that the Catholic Church, “through its many institutions and programs,” constantly affirms and supports every human life “regardless of its condition or stage of development.”

“That is why the church supports a strong social safety net for people who are poor or in great difficulty, supports the dignity and rights of migrants and opposes the death penalty,” they said.

“And that is why the church supports, assists staff and funds pregnancy counseling centers and ministries,” the Prelates added.

It’s also why, they said, the U.S. bishops have launched “Walking with Moms in Need,” a nationwide initiative “to engage every Catholic parish in providing a safety net to ensure expectant mothers and mothers have the resources, love and support they need to nurture the lives of their children.