The following joint statement was issued by Bishop Richard F. Stika of the Diocese of Knoxville, Bishop J. Mark Spalding of the Diocese of Nashville, and Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Memphis on Feb. 26, 2019:
We believe that the sanctity of human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception to natural death. So while we wholeheartedly support the intention of the “Heartbeat Bill” being considered by the Tennessee Legislature, we must also be prudent in how we combat the pro-abortion evil that dwells in our society.
The “Heartbeat Bill” has been passed in various forms across the country and has been consistently struck down by state and federal courts alike for being unconstitutional. In these legal cases, a victory is handed to the pro-abortion plaintiffs and we must remember that every pro-abortion victory in the courts further strengthens the Roe v. Wade precedent and makes Roe that much more difficult to overturn. Furthermore, states that defend their own “Heartbeat Bills” must pay attorney’s fees to Planned Parenthood when Planned Parenthood sues that state and wins in court. North Dakota is reported as being court ordered to pay $241,000 in attorney’s fees to Planned Parenthood. Similarly, Arkansas was ordered to pay $121,689 in attorney’s fees to the pro-abortion plaintiffs when Arkansas lost its case.
Given the field of legal realities that we must consider, we believe it would not be prudent to support the “Heartbeat Bill” knowing the certainty of its overturning when challenged, in addition to the court ordered fees that would be paid to the pro-abortion plaintiffs. Instances like these remind us that we must be prudent and support other pro-life pieces of pro-life legislation that stand a better chance of being upheld in the courts and, possibly, become the vehicle that forces the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Roe once and for all.
Given the unjust laws recently signed in New York and considered in Virginia, we pray urgent support will be given to the “Human Life Protection Act” being considered within the Legislature that would automatically ban abortions in Tennessee should the Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision be overturned.
+ Most Reverend Richard F. Stika
Diocese of Knoxville
+ Most Reverend J. Mark Spalding
Diocese of Nashville
+ Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz
Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Memphis