TRENTON — Some religious leaders in the state have been vocal about their “disappointment and outrage” with New Jersey’s latest push toward proposed legislation to expand access to abortion.

The nation’s highest court has been edging toward reconsidering the landmark ruling that legalized abortion nationwide.

“This proposed legislation is a direct attack on the dignity and sanctity of life and is further evidence that we have failed as a society when a mother feels her only option is to end the life of her child,” a written statement from the Catholic Bishops of New Jersey.

The statement was issued following a proposal from Gov. Phil Murphy and leading Democratic lawmakers for full insurance coverage and a state fund for abortion.

New Jersey already codified the right to an abortion statewide, through a law enacted four months ago, in anticipation that the U.S. Supreme Court could overturn the 1973 decision in Roe versus Wade.

“New Jersey continues to rank among the top three states in annual abortion procedures nationwide. For these reasons it is incomprehensible to force health insurance providers in New Jersey to cover 100% of the cost to expand access to these abhorrent services,” the bishops’ statement said.

It was signed by the seven highest-ranking men of the state’s Catholic Dioceses:

— Cardinal Joseph Tobin of the Archdiocese of Newark
—  Bishop Kevin Sweeney, Diocese of Paterson
—  Bishop David O’Connell, Diocese of Trenton
— Bishop James Checchio, Diocese of Metuchen
—  Bishop Dennis Sullivan, Diocese of Camden
—  Bishop Kurt Burnette, Eparchy of Passaic
—  Bishop Yousif Habash, Our Lady of Deliverance of Syriac Catholic Diocese

“For our part, the Catholic Church is committed to opposing this legislation, but more importantly we stand ready to broaden and increase awareness about the abundant resources and programs we offer from pregnancy and foster care centers to clothing, food, housing services, adoption agencies, family resource centers, and national programs such as Walking with Moms in Need,” according to the same joint statement from the bishops.

Bans off our bodies rally in Metuchen on May 14 (Tammy Murphy via Twitter)
Bans off our bodies rally in Metuchen on May 14 (Tammy Murphy via Twitter)
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The statement did not address situations in which a continued pregnancy poses real health risks to the life of the mother — as there are no exceptions for the Catholic Church’s anti-abortion stance, including in cases of rape and incest.

A strong majority of Americans in a Pew Research Center survey taken in March said that abortion should be legal in all or most cases, though many are open to restrictions.

Nearly half of U.S. adults in the same Pew poll (48%) agreed that there are "circumstances in which abortion is morally wrong but should nevertheless be legal."

Less than half that number, or 22% of Americans polled, said that abortion should be illegal in every situation where they believe it is immoral.

pro life march Chicago Roe versus Wade 2022
CHICAGO, IL - ARCHIVE: Pro-life advocates in the annual March For Life on Jan. 8, 2022 (Photo by Kamil Krzaczynski/Getty Images)
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Pope Francis on bishops & politics

In September, Pope Francis weighed in on a movement to try and deny Communion to pro-choice politicians, including President Joe Biden, who like Murphy, is Catholic.

The pope repeated that “abortion is homicide.” He also said about bishops making efforts not to align themselves with “political life,” as reported by America The Jesuit Review.

“And what should a shepherd do? Be a shepherd. Not going around condemning,” the pope said, according to the same report. “They must be a shepherd, in God’s style, which is closeness, compassion and tenderness.”

Erin Vogt is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach her at erin.vogt@townsquaremedia.com

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