Campaign seeks to end late term abortions in New Jersey

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In conjunction with Respect Life Month, celebrated in October, the Diocese of Camden’s Office of Life and Justice is promoting the 20/20 Project to stop legal abortions at 20 weeks in 2020 in the state of New Jersey.

More than 55,000 postcards have been distributed to 46 parishes in the Diocese of Camden for faithful to sign and send to legislators urging them to pass the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (A-1686/S-537). The law would ban abortions beyond 20 weeks of pregnancy based on the assertion that an unborn child is capable of feeling pain at that point.

Several Knights of Columbus councils along with key state and local pro-life leaders are lending their support to the 20/20 Project.

Late term abortions are not rare in New Jersey. According to the latest data from the CDC (Center for Disease Control), 720 babies past 21 weeks gestation were killed by abortion in 2014.

“Current New Jersey state law allows for abortion through all three trimesters with few restrictions,” said Matt Davis, director of Life and Justice Ministries for the Diocese of Camden. He added that with proper medical care, babies past 20 weeks can survive outside the womb.

Seventeen states have passed “pain capable” bills, and a federal law with the same goals has been debated in Washington.

On April 9, 2019, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act. As the hearing got underway, the chairman of the U.S. bishops’ pro-life committee issued a statement calling on Congress to pass the act and stop “the barbaric practice of late-term abortion.”

“This bill draws the public’s attention to the shameful reality that the United States is one of only seven nations worldwide that allows the barbaric practice of late-term abortion, when a child likely feels pain and might even live outside the womb with appropriate medical assistance,” said Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, who is chair of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities.

The New Jersey bill has five co-sponsors in the Assembly and 13 in the State Senate. Davis and other New Jersey pro-life leaders are hoping to galvanize Catholic support for the legislation.

“We are doing this as a diocese to make a collective impact, and to catch the attention of lawmakers. The goal is to change the law as well as hearts and minds. This is about equal rights for babies in the womb,” Davis said. “The protection, promotion and dignity of life is the foundation of the Catholic Social Teaching. God is the creator of life, so who are we to undermine the dignity of his creation?” he added.

For more information about the “20/20” campaign, contact Matthew Davis, director of Life and Justice Ministries, Diocese of Camden, at 856-583-2910, or e-mail matthew.davis@camdendiocese.org

Catholic News Service contributed to this story.