Author Topic: New Catholic Scandal: North Dakota Bishops Oppose Bill to Outlaw Abortion  (Read 2430 times)

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Offline Nigula Qian Zishi

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New Catholic Scandal
North Dakota Bishops Oppose          Bill to Outlaw Abortion

North Dakota Catholic Bishops Paul A. Zipfel (Bismarck) and Samuel            J. Aquila (Fargo) have flatly refused to endorse a bill criminalizing            abortion now pending in the North Dakota House of Representatives.

House Bill 1242, authored by Representative Sally Sandvig (D-Fargo)            and co-sponsored by Senator Russell Thane (R-Wahpeton), creates a new            section of the North Dakota criminal code: “A person is guilty of a            class AA felony if the person intentionally destroys or terminates the            life of a preborn child.”

HB1242 was introduced January 10, 2003 and referred to the House            Judiciary Committee. A “preborn child” is defined in the bill as “a            human being from the moment of fertilization until the moment of            birth.”    

Rep. Sandvig introduced the Preborn Child Protection Act at the            request of Fargo pro-life attorney Peter B. Crary, who resides in her            district. In response to a letter from Attorney Crary requesting            support for the bill, Christopher Dodson, Executive Director of the            North Dakota Catholic Conference, stated that the bill was            unacceptable to the Bishops because it holds culpable the woman who            intentionally procures an abortion. “[C]riminalizing the woman,” Mr.            Dodson explained, “serves no legitimate purpose[.]”

Mr. Dodson further indicated that even were the proposed            legislation to grant the mother legal immunity for killing her own            child, it still would not pass muster with the Catholic Bishops of            North Dakota because it lacked “a realistic possibility of            withstanding constitutional scrutiny.”

North Dakota has two Catholic dioceses, the            Eastern Diocese in            Fargo, and the Western Diocese in Bismarck.

“I was astounded,” stated Mr. Crary, “that a representative of the            North Dakota Catholic Church would in effect endorse Roe v. Wade by            demanding that a mother be accorded legal protection for killing her            preborn child.” Roe v. Wade is the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court opinion            that created a constitutional right for a woman to terminate the life            of her unborn child.

Mr. Crary further stated: “If any legislation aimed at protecting            the lives of preborn children must have ‘a realistic possibility of            withstanding constitutional scrutiny,’ then Roe v. Wade is beyond            challenge. I am truly amazed to hear that my own Catholic Bishops have            made a public policy decision to conform to Roe v. Wade. I have always            been taught as a Catholic that life begins at conception, and to kill            a preborn child is murder. What then is objectionable about outlawing            murder?”

After receiving Mr. Dodson’s letter, Mr. Crary wrote individually            to the North Dakota Catholic Bishops asking if Mr. Dodson had            correctly represented their position on HB 1242.

On January 20, 2003, Bishop of Bismarck, Paul A. Zipfel, responded            to Mr. Crary, stating: “I am in total agreement that this bill serves            no legitimate purpose and can even be counterproductive to the goals            of the Gospel of Life.” Bishop Zipfel strongly endorsed the            requirement set forth by Mr. Dodson that no pro-life legislation            should hold a mother culpable for killing her own child. “Bishop            Zipfel’s position,” stated Mr. Crary, “is fully consistent with Roe v.            Wade.”

Bishop Samuel J. Aquila of the Fargo Diocese has responded in the            same vein.  

“As a Catholic I am ashamed,” Mr. Crary said. “The North Dakota            Bishops do give lip service to the protection of innocent life.            However, by refusing to challenge in any manner the Supreme Court            mandate set forth in Roe v. Wade, my own Bishops have            acquiesced to the Culture of Death.”

Umm, does anyone else find the reasoning for not having support weak at best?

Offline Mor Ephrem

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Re:New Catholic Scandal: North Dakota Bishops Oppose Bill to Outlaw Abortion
« Reply #1 on: February 03, 2003, 10:23:23 PM »
Well, to be honest, I'm not sure what to make of this.  The proposed bill says that “A person is guilty of a class AA felony if the person intentionally destroys or terminates the life of a preborn child.”  

But who does that prosecute?  The abortionist or the woman?  Both?  

I'm sure that there are a lot of women for whom aborting a "fetus" is merely getting rid of an obstacle to a career or other worldly pursuit.  But surely there are women who feel that is their only option...perhaps they are impoverished, the victims of rape, etc.  To prosecute such women, who may not be in the mental state to know exactly what they are doing, would just add to their misery.  So, if the latter is the case, I think I might find myself agreeing with the bishops on this one.  The woman for whom the abortion was a convenience could easily fake the latter situation and get away with it, so prosecuting women would make no sense to me.  It would be better in my opinion to have the law prosecute the abortionists, for whom this is a business, and for whom the veil of ignorance does not apply.  

And of course, the reason that such a law would not withstand constitutional scrutiny is just stupid, and I'm sorry that bishops have actually proposed this as a valid excuse.  Why not base one's lack of support on such a bill on pastoral sensibilities, rather than "Well, there's no way this would ever pass, so why bother?"  That's just dumb.    

I know this is not in the realm of law, really, but what abortion alternatives are being pushed and promoted along with this law, if any?  Would women know about their alternatives?  What is the Catholic Church doing in ND?  The Orthodox?
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Offline Amadeus

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Re:New Catholic Scandal: North Dakota Bishops Oppose Bill to Outlaw Abortion
« Reply #2 on: February 05, 2003, 01:41:38 PM »
Dear Friends:

As presented by Nik, this news item on the ND Catholic Bishops' position could be termed "scandalous."

However, reading the response of the Executive Director of the ND Catholic Conference and of each of the Catholic bishops concerned would show the cogent reasons for their non-support of the HB1242 as written.

As a backgrounder, please afford yourself a few minutes by evaluating first the pro-life activities of the ND Catholic Conference at:

and then read the unedited responses of Mr. Dodson, the Executive Director, and those of Most Reverend Paul A. Zipfel, Bishop of Bismarck and Most Rev. Samuel J. Aquila, Bishop of Fargo at:

At once it becomes clearer that the ND Catholic Conference and the bishops do not support Roe v. Wade[/i] nor are they purveyors of the "Culture of Death" wrongly perceived by Atty. Peter Crary, himself a pro-life Catholic.


« Last Edit: February 05, 2003, 01:51:01 PM by Amadeus »