Nuns denounce Kansas abortion amendment, thwarting Archbishop Joseph Naumann

Two Kansas nuns are voicing their opposition to a proposed abortion-related amendment to their state’s constitution, despite its support by the local archbishop. The nuns argue that the measure, if approved, would have negative repercussions for women and allow politicians “to impose religious beliefs on all Kansans” by enacting restrictive abortion bans.

In a letter obtained by Religion News Service and later published in the Kansas City StarSisters Angela Fitzpatrick and Michele Morek, members of the Ursuline Sisters order, explain their intention to vote against Tuesday a proposed amendment which, if passed, would amend the state constitution to remove the explicit right to abortion.

The sisters point out that abortion is already heavily regulated in Kansas, and voting against the amendment does not remove the power of the legislature to pass abortion regulations. Instead, they argue, voting against the measure “will make it less likely that the government mandate will control women’s health care decisions in Kansas.”

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The nuns also note the negative consequences resulting from abortion bans enacted in other states since the US Supreme Court ruled last month that reversed Roe vs. Wadethe landmark 1973 case establishing the right to abortion nationwide. If Kansas voters agree to change the state constitution — which the state Supreme Court ruled in 2019 affirms the right to abortion — similar abortion bans could be passed in Kansas.

“A church sign said, ‘Jesus trusted women. We too,” reads the letter from the nuns. “As Catholic nuns, we support Pope Francis and the social justice teachings of our Church. We respect all people and value life. In other states, some doctors are afraid to provide life-saving procedures for ectopic pregnancies or incomplete miscarriages. A child rape victim was further traumatized after having to cross state lines to receive health care.

The letter, which the sisters sent to various publications in Kansas, doubles as a challenge to Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, Kan., who has been a strong advocate for the amendment. This month, Naumann published a letter in wichita eagle fight the allegations of a local rabbi who argued that the amendment would allow Catholics and conservative Christians to impose their faith on others in the state – including American Jews who don’t believe that life begins at conception.

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“From a Catholic point of view, abortion is not primarily a religious issue but a fundamental human rights issue,” wrote Naumann, who previously chaired the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. “Our faith helps us understand the dignity of every human life created in the divine image as taught in the Hebrew scriptures, but reason alone is enough to know that it is wrong to destroy an innocent human life.”

But Sister Angela, a Founding Member of the Catholic social justice lobby known as the Network, and Sister Michele, who serves as liaison with other nuns for the Global Sisters Report, highlighted a lack of care for those on the other side of the issue – and the need for the state to support those who choose to carry a pregnancy to term.

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If the amendment passes, “Topeka politicians can impose religious beliefs on all Kansans and make it harder for women to make decisions about their own health,” their letter opens. “Has the Legislature recently helped create an enabling environment for pro-life choices by providing better health care, parental leave, Medicaid and other supports for poor women – and child care and child support? babies after birth?”

Representatives for Naumann and the Kansas City Archdiocese in Kansas did not respond to requests for comment.

— Religious News Service

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