Friday, May 15, 2009

From the Mothership, a Senator Casey Support Act

Back to things political for your Domesday Weekend Pre-Game Show, late today the USCCB doubled up its support for the Pregnant Women Support Act on the bill's introduction in the Senate:
Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia, chair of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, wrote to all U.S. Senators urging them to support the Pregnant Women Support Act (PWSA, S. 1032) re-introduced in the Senate by Sen. Robert Casey (D-PA) on May 14. The PWSA provides resources and support for pregnant and parenting women and their families....

The PWSA “reaches out to women with a helping hand when they are most vulnerable, and most engaged in making a decision about life or death for their unborn children,” Cardinal Rigali said. “It provides an authentic common ground, an approach that people can embrace regardless of their position on other issues.”

Among other provisions, the Act will ensure that pregnant women are not denied coverage by insurance companies; establish a toll-free number for resources during pregnancy and after birth; provide life-affirming pregnancy services and parenting education in maternity group homes and other centers; provide new mothers with free home visits by registered nurses; and codify the current regulation allowing states to provide State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) coverage to unborn children and their mothers. It will also encourage adoption by expanding adoption tax credit and adoption assistance programs.

Cardinal Rigali described the PWSA as “entirely separate” from controversial proposals involving pregnancy prevention, which many studies show do not reduce abortions. “Discussion of pregnancy prevention and related issues will surely continue inside and outside Congress. In the meantime, pregnant women need our assistance now so that abortion is not promoted to them as their only choice.”

“I hope you will join Senator Casey in ensuring that the Pregnant Women Support Act will be considered and enacted by this Congress,” he said to the Senators.

What isn't said, however, is just as notable.

A first-term Democrat who trounced an incumbent both on the strength of his family name and his pledged opposition to abortion in the socially-conservative Keystone State, Casey's repeatedly found himself in the crosshairs of his hometown ordinary, Bishop Joseph Martino of Scranton, over (among other things) his April vote to confirm Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius (a pro-choice Catholic) and against a failed January amendment that would've blocked President Obama's reversal of the "Mexico City" policy banning overseas population-control funding that either led to promoting or performing abortions.

After the Sebelius vote, Martino accused Casey of being "inconsistent" in his pro-life stance, saying in a statement that it was "incumbent upon Sen. Casey to reflect on his actions and ask himself if he should" continue to receive Communion. Then, given what the bishop called the senator's "recent alignment with anti-life forces in the Senate and the highest offices of our government," Martino panned a local Catholic college's selection of Casey as its commencement speaker (and an honorary degree recipient) as "an affront to all who value the sanctity of life."

Casey speaks at Wilkes-Barre's Kings College -- like Notre Dame, a Holy Cross school -- on Sunday. In the meantime, no comment yet from the Scranton chancery on Casey's sponsorship of PWSA, which likewise garnered a favorable note last month from the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano.

Meanwhile, in a "dramatic shift" on the abortion issue, a freshly-released Gallup poll finds a majority of Americans (51 percent) identifying themselves as "pro-life" for the first time in the survey's history.