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Oklahoma passes extensive abortion ban bill, as country awaits Supreme Court ruling

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Denver Newsroom, May 23, 2022 / 16:50 pm (CNA).

The Oklahoma legislature has passed another law limiting abortion, ahead of a U.S. Supreme Court decision that could allow many more restrictions on abortion. The Oklahoma legislation follows a Texas model in allowing private citizens to sue abortion providers, but expands its scope to ban almost all direct abortions from the moment of conception.

House Bill 4327 bars all abortions except to save the life of a pregnant woman or if the unborn child was conceived in rape or incest reported to law enforcement. The legislation passed by 76-16, generally on a party-line vote, on May 19.

“Is our goal to defend the right to life or isn’t it?” bill sponsor Republican State Rep. Wendi Stearman asked legislators before the bill passed.

State Rep. Cyndi Munson, a Democrat, had questioned Stearman about the fact that many women, especially young girls, do not report rape or incest to law enforcement.

“Can you explain to me why you’re okay with a person carrying on a pregnancy after they have been raped or there has been instances of incest?” Munson asked.

“I am okay with preserving the life of the child,” Stearman responded. “The child was not part of that decision.”

Like a novel Texas law, it allows private citizens to sue abortion providers and anyone who “aids and abets” illegal abortions. The Texas law, however, bars abortion six weeks into pregnancy. The proposed Oklahoma law is the first of its kind to allow civilian enforcement of an abortion ban beginning at conception.

The legislation defines an unborn child as a human fetus or embryo at any stage of development. It specifically allows doctors to remove the body of a dead unborn child caused by spontaneous abortion or miscarriage, or to remove an ectopic pregnancy, the Associated Press reports. The bill’s provisions do not apply to abortion-inducing drugs or contraception.

Dr. Eli Reshef, an Oklahoma City fertility specialist, told the Associated Press that the legislation is not expected to apply to in-vitro fertilization, when embryos are conceived in a lab by fertilizing eggs before transferring them into a woman’s womb.

Gov. Kevin Stitt has said he will sign any pro-life legislation the legislature sends to him.

Earlier this month, Stitt had signed into law a bill which bans abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, usually around six weeks into pregnancy. That law, too, relies on citizens’ private lawsuits to enforce the ban.

Plaintiffs who successfully sue those who perform or aid and abet abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected could have a legal reward of at least $10,000.

Oklahoma’s two Catholic bishops had praised that bill as a protective measure for human life in the state, and also encouraged help for the women considering abortion.

Planned Parenthood’s two abortion clinics in Oklahoma stopped performing abortions after the governor signed the six-week ban. Once the latest bill is signed into law, the state’s two other abortion clinics will close, their attorney has said, according to the Associated Press.

“At this point, we are preparing for the most restrictive environment politicians can create: a complete ban on abortion with likely no exceptions,” Emily Wales, interim president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Plains, told the Associated Press. “It’s the worst-case scenario for abortion care in the state of Oklahoma.”

Abortion restrictions in Texas reduced the number of abortions in the state by perhaps 46%. However, some pregnant women are seeking abortions in bordering states like Oklahoma or ordering abortion pills by mail.

The numbers of abortions performed in Oklahoma fell from 6,200 in 2002 to 3,736 in 2020, the lowest in more than 20 years. About 9% of Oklahoma abortions in 2020 were performed on women from Texas.

In late April Oklahoma legislators passed a law banning abortions entirely unless the procedure is done to save the life of the pregnant woman. That law, which would likely be struck down as unconstitutional unless the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, is set to go into effect in August.

The U.S. Supreme Court could very well overturn Roe v. Wade and related precedents requiring all U.S. states to legalize abortion. Overturning the decision would return control of abortion legislation to the states.

In October 2021, Archbishop Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City issued a call to prayer for the abolition of the death penalty and for the end to abortion in Oklahoma

“We must pray for a renewed focus on the precious gift of life - all life from conception until natural death,” he said.

Pope Francis opens assembly of Italian Bishops’ Conference

Pope Francis meets with the Italian Bishops’ Conference in the Paul VI Hall, as the group gathers to reflect on their journey along the synodal path.

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The beatification of Pauline Jaricot brings pilgrims from all over the world to France.

Founder of the Pontifical Mission Society for the Propagation of the Faith, Pauline Marie Jaricot, was beatified Sunday, 22 May, in a solemn Eucharistic celebration held in Lyon, France.

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Pope Francis Names Auxiliary Bishop of Detroit

WASHINGTON - Pope Francis has appointed the Most Reverend Paul F. Russell as auxiliary bishop of Detroit. He is the titular archbishop of Novi. The appointment was publicized in Washington, D.C. on May 23, 2022, by Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States.

The Archdiocese of Detroit is comprised of 3,901 square miles in the State of Michigan and has a total population of 4,278,248, of which 1,131,660 are Catholic.

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Media Contact:
Chieko Noguchi
202-541-3200

Monday of the Sixth Week of Easter

Reading I Acts 16:11-15

We set sail from Troas, making a straight run for Samothrace,
and on the next day to Neapolis, and from there to Philippi,
a leading city in that district of Macedonia and a Roman colony.
We spent some time in that city.
On the sabbath we went outside the city gate along the river
where we thought there would be a place of prayer.
We sat and spoke with the women who had gathered there.
One of them, a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth,
from the city of Thyatira, a worshiper of God, listened,
and the Lord opened her heart to pay attention
to what Paul was saying.
After she and her household had been baptized,
she offered us an invitation,
“If you consider me a believer in the Lord,
come and stay at my home,” and she prevailed on us.

Responsorial Psalm 149:1b-2, 3-4, 5-6a and 9b

R.        (see 4a)  The Lord takes delight in his people.
or:
R.        Alleluia.
Sing to the LORD a new song
            of praise in the assembly of the faithful.
Let Israel be glad in their maker,
            let the children of Zion rejoice in their king.
R.        The Lord takes delight in his people.
or:
R.        Alleluia.
Let them praise his name in the festive dance,
            let them sing praise to him with timbrel and harp.
For the LORD loves his people,
            and he adorns the lowly with victory.
R.        The Lord takes delight in his people.
or:
R.        Alleluia.
Let the faithful exult in glory;
            let them sing for joy upon their couches.
Let the high praises of God be in their throats.
            This is the glory of all his faithful. Alleluia.
R.        The Lord takes delight in his people.
or:
R.        Alleluia.

Alleluia Jn 15:26b, 27a

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The Spirit of truth will testify to me, says the Lord,
and you also will testify.

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Jn 15:26—16:4a

Jesus said to his disciples:
“When the Advocate comes whom I will send you from the Father,
the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father,
he will testify to me.
And you also testify,
because you have been with me from the beginning.

“I have told you this so that you may not fall away.
They will expel you from the synagogues;
in fact, the hour is coming when everyone who kills you
will think he is offering worship to God.
They will do this because they have not known either the Father or me.
I have told you this so that when their hour comes
you may remember that I told you.”

- - -

Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

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