A Letter on Recent Abortion Legislations

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

It is abundantly clear that both New York and Virginia have governors with extreme views on the issue of abortion. Recently, as you no doubt know, the State of New York passed one of the most extreme pro-abortion laws of the nation which among other things legalized abortion up to seconds before birth. The legislature for the State of Virginia introduced similar legislation.

In commenting on this bill, the scandal-embroiled Governor Ralph Northam sent shock waves through civilized society when he expressed support of legally killing a baby – even after birth, if in the discussions between the doctors and the mother that would be desired. Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York, a Catholic, enthusiastically signed the New York bill at a ceremony in which its proponents cheered in jubilation.

Friends, I hope you are as shocked and dismayed as I am to learn of these things. We should pause to consider the depths to which we have descended in modern culture and society. While taken aback by these events, we should also know that other states are mobilizing or have mobilized their legislatures, with the support of pro-life governors, to enact laws such as heartbeat bills and personhood bills so that unborn children will have the protection of law. These states, Iowa among them, are to be commended. Other states, including our own, should take their cue in adopting such similar laws.

Here in the State of Kansas, now without the support of a publicly pro-life governor, the path to such legislation will be a great challenge. It is widely believed that the Kansas Supreme Court will soon decide there is a constitutional right to an abortion in our state constitution. This decision will have disastrous consequences to all of our pro-life legislation that we have worked hard to get passed. However, we cannot surrender to the opposition but must educate and fortify ourselves for an uphill battle ahead.

Please learn where your elected representatives stand on the issues of life. Ask them personally, if you have the chance, or at least research their political platforms to get that information. We should make it known to them that we support a Human Life Amendment to our constitution. It is vital that we do so. Please make your voices heard and your views known to your elected representatives in both the House and Senate.

Each year in January, the bishops of Kansas meet with the leadership of both the bodies, as well as with the governor. Often, they tell us that they need to hear from their constituents. It is imperative for all of us to become engaged in the political arena, as unsavory as it might be at times. As leaven in the world, it is our duty as citizens and as Christians, so that the light and truth of the Gospel will clearly shine in our society.

It is vital that we as Catholics clearly and unhesitatingly echo in our personal and in our public lives, our church’s consistent teaching that all life is sacred, from the moment of conception until natural death. To believe otherwise or to promote anything to the contrary is gravely immoral. For this reason, anyone who is involved in the abortion industry or who works to promote and advance it, including Catholic politicians should refrain from receiving Holy Communion. To approach the Eucharistic table with such a blemish on one’s soul is committing the sin of sacrilege.

In extreme cases, such as for Governor Cuomo, who enthusiastically signed the bill into law, I would support his bishop in imposing other canonical penal acts, which are meant to be medicinal, so as to impress upon him the damage of this decision to his immortal soul and the widespread scandal his action has no doubt caused. That would be the truly pastoral thing to do. Doing so is a responsibility of the local bishop, who has as his highest priority, the care of souls, especially those who have left the right path and are at risk of eternal damnation.

While we are naturally shocked to witness these extreme measures to allow unborn children, even newborn children to be murdered, let us not lose hope or confidence in the victory of life. With this confidence and conviction, that of warriors for truth and justice, let us pray for the courage to fight the good fight and do all we can here in our city, in our state and in our country by voice, vote, and strong witness to defend the right to life of the unborn child.

God bless you all.

+ The Most Rev. Carl A. Kemme
Bishop of Wichita