Last June a 40-percent increase in abortion funding passed along with the rest of the California budget. Unbelievably, a 10-percent cut in all other hospital and provider fees in the Medi-Cal Program remained, endangering access to essential medical care for all women and families who qualify.
Even more troubling is the reason given for the increase in the Medi-Cal estimate: “Early statewide access ensures services are less costly, whereas lack of access results in increased ongoing expenses for years.” It is apparently more important for the state to prioritize cheap abortions than to enhance primary care and prenatal care for those who are poor and working poor.
The Catholic Church’s position on life beginning at conception is well known and, frankly, is not debatable scientifically. In our pluralistic society, significant disagreements persist on moral and legal questions about abortion. However, even the “safe, legal and rare” mantra of abortion advocates is rarely heard any more in a state that has gone out of its way to refuse any reasonable restrictions to abortion. Refused safeguards—as if an abortion could ever be safe—include the requirement of physicians and safe building standards in facilities that provide abortions, outlawing sex-selective abortions, and parental notification for minors.
We continue to be grateful for the public service of those in office of both parties and we must continue to work together for the common good, especially in those areas that concern the most fundamental right, which is life. It has been a blessing to visit with our officials, both here at home and in Sacramento. As the California Catholic Conference of Bishops, we affirm the necessity of working to improve both major political parties in such a way that they better reflect a fundamental respect for the life and dignity of every human person, especially the poor and most vulnerable. At our most recent Catholic Advocacy Day, we supported the now-passed AB 1579, a bill that acknowledges the humanity of unborn children and allows expectant mothers to collect CalWORKs benefits earlier, thereby enhancing the welfare of both baby and mother.
It’s time for our state officials to come together on common sense approaches to mitigate the suffering of women, children and families in life-affirming ways. The kind of public policy calculation revealed in the recent budget increase does not guard human life and dignity and suggests that our primary response to economically vulnerable populations ought to be a cost-benefit analysis. God forbid!
Through our public policy we have the opportunity to shape the character of our society. What kind of people do we need to be to welcome children into this world? What kind of message does the state send to the next generation of Californians by suggesting abortion as its most significant policy response, over and against properly funding essential medical care for mothers and children?
The Church has worked and continues to stand ready to work with politicians of both parties willing to put aside ideology and work for the betterment of our communities to improve education, create jobs, raise wages, encourage affordable housing and protect the life and dignity of every human person, particularly the most vulnerable, including children, immigrants and others at the economic margins. We can and we must do better for women, children and families in California. c
The Most Reverend Kevin W. Vann, Bishop of Orange