The leaders of the Catholic Diocese of Jackson and Biloxi, Bishops Joseph R. Kopacz and Louis F. Kihneman III respectively, have stated their support for currently pending legislation that would further protect the sanctity of life.

House Bill 1295, known as the Life Equality Act, would ban abortions that are performed due to the race, sex, or genetic abnormality of the child unless it is a medical emergency. This critical anti-discrimination legislation is a major step forward in the fight against the discrimination of unborn children.

Physicians would be required to keep certain records related to abortion that would be reported to the Mississippi Department of Health. The bill would also put a criminal penalty and professional sanctions on doctors who do not abide the law. For greater detail about the bill, check out this piece by Anja Baker.

In a public letter, the bishops stated that the “Church’s steadfast stance on the protection of unborn human lives has biblical support, e.g., the words of Psalm 139, declaring that each of us is fearfully and wonderfully made, knit in our mothers’ wombs. But even if one does not acknowledge the Bible, the truth that the womb of a pregnant woman contains a unique human life cannot be denied. This truth ought to be reflected by our Mississippi legal system without prejudice.”

The letter went on to state: “We believe in the legal protection of these classes as they are equal in the eyes of our Creator. We seek to live out the Gospel of Jesus Christ by caring for the most vulnerable among us.”

The letter concludes by referencing the 25th Anniversary of Evangelism Vitae, “Gospel of Life,” Saint John Paul II’s powerful defense of life and its inherent value.

Rep. Carolyn Crawford (R-Pass Christian) and Sen. Jenifer Branning (R-Philadelphia) have stepped up by introducing the Life Equality Act and have shown their deep commitment to equality before the law and the defense of unborn lives no matter their race, gender, or personal ability.

While some continue to defend sex-selective abortions, clearly seen in this Guardian opinion piece, this choice overly destroys the lives of unborn girls due to existing biases for a variety of reasons. In 2011, it was estimated that 160 million women were missing from this earth directly due to sex-selective abortions.

Furthermore, abortion already has a larger impact on certain races than others. In Mississippi, 79 percent of abortions are obtained by black women. It is worth noting as well that 79 percent of Planned Parenthood’s clinics around the nation are in minority neighborhoods. Whatever one’s thoughts on the practice, these statistics should horrify us. This bill would take the important step of stopping those who seek to abort an unborn child solely because of his or her race, and thus suppressing one of the small ways that abortion devalues life based on race.

This bill becomes all the more critically important as the debate surrounding the abortion of certain children, such as those with down syndrome has raised a serious debate. Recently, certain news outlets praised the nation of Iceland for effectively eliminating down syndrome in the country. However, it was quickly revealed that the method of eradication was actually a horrendous degree of abortion selectivity applied to unborn children who were found to have down syndrome.

In a recent debate in England, activists have pleaded for the public to change the laws that allow abortion until birth when the child has down syndrome. For reference, England has a standard 24 week limit for abortion for all other children. Heidi Crowter, a young adult with down syndrome, gave this powerful and moving testament in defense of the value of her own life.

Jesse Jackson, once pro-life, powerfully said in 1977 that: “Psychiatrists, social workers and doctors often argue for abortion on the basis that the child will grow up mentally and emotionally scarred. But who of us is complete? If incompleteness were the criteri(on) for taking life, we would all be dead. If you can justify abortion on the basis of emotional incompleteness, then your logic could also lead you to killing for other forms of incompleteness — blindness, crippleness, old age.”

Unfortunately, this statement turned out to be all too prescient. Our society has increasingly devalued life and systematically sought to expand the taking of life for a variety of insufficient reasons. As the Catholic Bishops stated, all life is equal before the eyes of the Lord. I hope our legislators, many of whom often claim the title of pro-life with pride around election season, can hear these cries of injustice and can move swiftly in support of this legislation.