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Bishop's View: Minnesota, let's walk with moms in need

From the column: "Overturning Roe would not end the debate; it would simply permit states to establish their own laws on abortion. (And) here in Minnesota, the state’s 1995 Doe v. Gomez decision is even more permissive than Roe, to the point of actually requiring taxpayer funding for abortions."

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Dick Wright / Cagle Cartoons
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For nearly five decades, Catholics in the United States have called for an end to legalized abortion in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision. Even if, as some expect, Roe is overturned in the near future, efforts to advocate for the basic justice of protecting the right to life of every human person from the moment of conception have to continue.

Overturning Roe would not end the debate; it would simply permit states to establish their own laws on abortion.

Here in Minnesota, the state’s 1995 Doe v. Gomez decision is even more permissive than Roe, to the point of actually requiring taxpayer funding for abortions.

We Catholics continue, too, to seek ways to limit abortion while it remains legal, and I note that even many who favor legal abortion generally agree with us in favoring reasonable regulations that would make abortions safer for mothers or restrict it to the earlier stages of pregnancy.

We recognize, of course, that many Minnesotans disagree with the Catholic church on abortion, but there is a place where we can find common ground: trying to be there for women in difficult circumstances to reduce the demand for abortion. Whatever our views on the legality of abortion may be, surely we can all agree that a Minnesota in which no pregnant mother feels so desperate that abortion looks like the only way out of a crisis is a better Minnesota.

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Many Catholics in Northeastern Minnesota and around the country have long been engaged in this work through organizations which provide support to pregnant mothers in choosing life for their children. Catholic bishops in the United States this year, including me, are launching an initiative called Walking with Moms in Need (walkingwithmoms.com) to bolster our support of organizations that help in these circumstances, such as crisis pregnancy shelters. And through the Minnesota Catholic Conference, the Catholic bishops of Minnesota continue to advocate for programs that benefit mothers and their babies for the “first 1,000 days of life,” including nutrition programs, emergency shelter and housing, increases in the state’s working family and welfare programs, earned sick and safe time, and increasing postpartum insurance benefits.

Minnesotans can be proud of the state’s Positive Alternatives Grant Program, which funds organizations that help pregnant mothers to have healthy pregnancies and achieve self-sufficiency and stability. But that program needs more funding. The state currently allocates only $3.7 million for these services, while the most recent round of grant applications totaled about $6.5 million. In these difficult times, surely even more is needed.

Fully funding the Positive Alternatives program to help mothers who want to keep their babies to make that choice is a good that people should be able to support no matter what they think about the legality of abortion.

Let’s all, together, walk with moms in need.

The Most Rev. Daniel Felton is the 10th bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Duluth.

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Bishop Daniel Felton

Related Topics: ABORTION
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