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CNA Staff, Jan 12, 2021 / 01:27 am (CNA).- As the United States approaches 48 years of legalized abortion nationwide, the Catholic bishops of New Jersey are asking Catholics to join in a day of fasting and prayer to support a culture of life.

“As we mark this tragic event in our nation’s history, we remember the millions of lives lost to abortion and pray for the mothers and fathers left to suffer the tragic effects,” said a letter signed by all the Catholic bishops of New Jersey, including Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark and Bishop David O’Connell of Trenton.

“We, the Catholic Bishops of New Jersey, ask Catholics and people of good will to join us … in a Day of Prayer and Fasting to end abortion,” they said.

The day of prayer and fasting will take place on January 22, which marks the 48th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision that mandated legal abortion nationwide. The day of prayer will take place a week ahead of the national March For Life in Washington, D.C.

In October, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy announced legislation that would make pro-abortion mandates part of state law.

The Reproductive Freedom Act would guarantee a right to abortion under state law and require most private insurers to cover abortion and birth control with no out-of-pocket expenses. It would remove some restrictions on abortion, while allowing physician assistants, certified midwives, and other nurses to administer legal abortions.

The bill has drawn significant criticism from pro-life advocates in the state, including Lisa Hart, vice president of Morris County Right to Life, and Christine Flaherty, director of Lifenet, reported the Beacon, the newspaper for the Diocese of Patterson.

“[The legislation] attempts to enshrine in perpetuity the ability to kill a baby in the womb through all nine months. It removes the conscience protection for medical workers. It allows non­doctors to commit abortions. Young pregnant girls can get an abortion without their parents’ knowledge or permission, risking their health. And it forces every one of us to pay for it,” said Hart.

“We are protesting this outrageous new bill, which is being fast-tracked by Gov. Murphy, that will expand abortion in the state. The name is very ironic because so many elements of this bill take people’s individual freedoms away,” said Flaherty.

The bishops emphasized the Catholic Church’s commitment to human dignity and reiterated their dedication to creating a culture of life. They particularly asked for Catholics to rely on the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe, protectress of the unborn.

“The Catholic Church is committed to protecting all life from conception to natural death. We will work vigorously to ensure the laws of our state and country protect and defend the intrinsic dignity of all people,” they said.

“We humbly implore our Blessed Mother under her title of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Americas and Protectress of the Unborn, to intercede on our behalf that these efforts to end abortion are guided by mercy, compassion, and above all charity.”

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