Public Policy

As legislative agendas progress in the United States, we are called to heighten our prayers and awareness as members of the Catholic community. Recent developments in Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) legislation, particularly surrounding in vitro fertilization (IVF), demand our attention and action. 

The Alabama legislature recently passed measures to safeguard providers and patients involved in IVF from potential legal repercussions. This swift response follows a recent ruling by the state’s Supreme Court, which classified frozen embryos as individuals, potentially holding individuals accountable for their destruction. This unprecedented decision equates fertilized eggs with infants under the state’s Wrongful Death of a Minor Act, causing significant disruption to IVF practices in Alabama. (Read the news article and ruling.)

On the federal level, the Right to Build Families Act of 2022 and S. 3612, the “Access to Family Building Act,” seek to prevent limited access to ART and related medical care. While these bills aim to protect and expand access to ART, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) strongly opposes S. 3612 due to its potential impact on religious freedom and ethical concerns surrounding the creation and destruction of preborn children. (Read the USCCB’s letter.) 

According to the USCCB, S. 3612 raises serious concerns about its potential exemption from the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), which could force faith-based organizations to violate their beliefs. The bishops also argue that the bill’s terms could lead to the promotion of practices such as human cloning and commercial surrogacy, which pose ethical dilemmas.

In light of these concerns, the USCCB urges parishioners to oppose S. 3612 and any similar legislation that threatens human life and religious freedom. We are called to advocate for alternatives that respect human dignity and support families struggling with infertility.

We encourage all parishioners to contact their congressional representatives to express opposition to bills and resolutions that promote problematic “rights” to IVF and other assisted reproductive technologies. Let us stand together in defense of life and the values of our faith. Contact your congressperson to oppose S. 3612. 

Contributed by Julie Gutiérrez, parishioner. March 2024.

Babies’ lives are at risk as the abortion legislative agenda advances in the U.S., demanding heightened prayers from the Catholic community. This bulletin succinctly outlines the significant developments in abortion legislation in 2023.

In the same year, Washington, D.C., and 10 states implemented 16 shield laws, detailed by the Guttmacher Institute. These laws, seemingly crafted to protect patients and providers in states with abortion restrictions, prevent state agencies from aiding investigations and shield medical professionals from punishment for legal abortion care across state lines. The states adopting these measures include Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Vermont, and Washington.

The Guttmacher Institute reported 30 pro-abortion measures enacted in 2023. These encompass diverse legislative actions, from Colorado’s targeting of pregnancy resource centers to New York’s mandate for chemical abortion access on public college campuses. Rhode Island’s decision to allow state funds for abortion coverage adds complexity, extending the reach of these measures to those qualifying for public health insurance, including state employees.

The battle for reproductive rights extends to chemical abortion, with notable actions in four states. Arkansas threatens physicians with the loss of their medical license for mailing medication abortion pills, while Florida bans such mailings, contingent on the state Supreme Court’s ruling on the 15-week abortion ban. Montana introduces new reporting requirements for healthcare providers distributing abortion drugs, effective in October. Wyoming makes history with the country’s first complete ban on chemical abortions, currently facing temporary legal challenges.

We should fortify our commitment to life through intensified prayer, advocacy, and informed engagement. Our collective efforts stand as a testament to an unwavering dedication to the sanctity of life, trusting that our prayers will be a beacon of hope in the ongoing battle for the protection of the most vulnerable among us. May our prayers be a source of strength, guiding us through this critical moment and inspiring positive change in defense of life. See link.  

Published twice a month, The Bioethics Public Policy Report keeps constituents informed about current developments in bioethics that impact the dignity of the human person. These reports address developments on the federal, state, and international levels. Sign up to receive email notice of new releases.