Three Tennessee Catholic bishops have come out together in opposition to the fetal heartbeat bill pending in the Tennessee General Assembly, saying that its failure would strengthen the pro-abortion industry.
Bishop Richard F. Stika of the Diocese of Knoxville, Bishop J. Mark Spalding of the Diocese of Nashville and Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Memphis issued a joint statement on Feb. 26.
The fetal heartbeat bill would ban abortions once a heartbeat has been detected. It passed in the State House Health Committee last week.
The bishops’ letter, which is also available here, reads:
We believe that the sanctity of human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception to natural death. So while we wholeheartedly support the intention of the “Heartbeat Bill” being considered by the Tennessee Legislature, we must also be prudent in how we combat the pro-abortion evil that dwells in our society.
The “Heartbeat Bill” has been passed in various forms across the country and has been consistently struck down by state and federal courts alike for being unconstitutional. In these legal cases, a victory is handed to the pro-abortion plaintiffs and we must remember that every pro-abortion victory in the courts further strengthens the Roe v. Wade precedent and makes Roe that much more difficult to overturn. Furthermore, states that defend their own “Heartbeat Bills” must pay attorney’s fees to Planned Parenthood when Planned Parenthood sues that state and wins in court. North Dakota is reported as being court ordered to pay $241,000 in attorney’s fees to Planned Parenthood. Similarly, Arkansas was ordered to pay $121,689 in attorney’s fees to the pro-abortion plaintiffs when Arkansas lost its case.
Given the field of legal realities that we must consider, we believe it would not be prudent to support the “Heartbeat Bill” knowing the certainty of its overturning when challenged, in addition to the court ordered fees that would be paid to the pro-abortion plaintiffs. Instances like these remind us that we must be prudent and support other pro-life pieces of pro-life legislation that stand a better chance of being upheld in the courts and, possibly, become the vehicle that forces the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe once and for all.
Given the unjust laws recently signed in New York and considered in Virginia, we pray urgent support will be given to the “Human Life Protection Act” being considered within the Legislature that would automatically ban abortions in Tennessee should the Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision be overturned.
Tennessee Right to Life also has not endorsed the heartbeat bill, for the same reason as the Tennessee bishops, CatholicPhilly reports. The American Civil Liberties Union has threatened to sue if the bill becomes law.
“It is shocking that concerns over potential litigation are more important than Biblical values and fighting for unborn life,” Tennessee Star Political Editor Steve Gill said. “Thankfully, cases like Brown v. Board of Education and DC v. Heller, among others, have led to changes in or clarification of our legal rights rather than allowing bad laws or immoral actions to remain in place out of fear that the results of a court challenge might fall short.”
“You never go wrong doing the right thing,” Gill added; “Sadly, the Bishops and Tennessee Right to Life would rather let wrong remain in effect rather than fight for life.”
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