New Catholic Scandal
North Dakota Bishops Oppose Bill to Outlaw Abortion
by GOOD MORALS NEWS SERVICEhttp://www.goodmorals.org/hb1242/
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?