The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in an Oct. 26 letter offered more than a dozen policy recommendations related to the health and well-being of women, children, and families, calling for a “radical solidarity” with mothers in need and the building of a society where families flourish without a supposed need for abortion.
The bishops’ letter comes shortly before the Nov. 8 midterm elections in the United States, during which 34 of the 100 Senate seats and all 435 seats in the House of Representatives will be contested. The bishops called the midterms, the first U.S. elections following the overturning of Roe v. Wade, a “historic opportunity to redouble efforts toward a culture of life that respects and supports the dignity of every person at every stage.”
“[W]e hope for the day when abortion is unthinkable because society has successfully reckoned with the challenges of raising children in the modern world and has decided to make the full flourishing of children and their families the highest goal, without anyone being excluded,” the bishops wrote.
“What would such a society and workplace really look like? Every sector of society would enjoy more stability and thrive if young people could more authentically value themselves and one another, form healthy, committed relationships, marry, and have children with confidence that their communities and society would really support them, no matter what obstacles they face.”
“We continue to exhort our nation to prioritize the well-being of women, children, and families with both material resources and personal accompaniment so that no woman ever feels forced to choose between her future and the life of her child,” the bishops wrote.
Several of the bishops’ policy recommendations related to policies to support pregnant women, mothers, and children, and made mention of low-income and immigrant families, who often face many difficulties.
“We stand ready to work with you [lawmakers] to bring forward solutions in light of these aspirations and encourage long-term and ongoing dialogue on how the policies and laws of our country can be improved to support all children and families,” the bishops wrote.
Among the many policy recommendations, the bishops expressed support for a requirement that employers provide reasonable accommodations for pregnant workers through the passage of the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, as well as accommodations for breastfeeding mothers through the PUMP for Nursing Mothers Act.
Quoting St. John Paul II, the bishops noted that “the true advancement of women requires that labor should be structured in such a way that women do not have to pay for their advancement by abandoning what is specific to them and at the expense of the family, in which women as mothers have an irreplaceable role.”
The bishops also expressed support for a child tax credit with no minimum income threshold, as well as tax credits and other assistance for pregnancy resource centers, initiatives to support federal paid family leave, support for child care and pre-kindergarten programs, and affordable housing initiatives.
They also advocated the strengthening of maternal and child health care by, for example, extending Medicaid postpartum coverage to 12 months, the strengthening of adoption support, and the regulation of toxic chemicals such as PFAS and methane, which can hurt children both born and unborn.
The bishops mentioned as a priority the inclusion of immigrant and mixed-status families in society and in the workforce through initiatives such as the Farm Workforce Modernization Act.
“In a country fundamentally shaped by the contributions of immigrants, both culturally and economically, we cannot accept policies that unjustly exclude newcomers, especially when we continue to rely on — and collectively benefit from — their labors,” the bishops wrote.
“With a strong scriptural foundation, the social doctrine of the Church clearly affirms that the ‘families of migrants have the right to the same protection as that accorded other families,’ including ‘the right to respect for their own culture and to receive support and assistance towards their integration into the community to which they contribute.’ Immigrant workers in particular, whether seasonal, undocumented, or otherwise, must be treated ’not as mere tools of production but as persons.’”
By Jonah McKeown
Catholic News Agency