PORTLAND — Bishop Robert Deeley of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland issued a statement Jan. 18 in response to on Gov. Janet Mills’ proposed abortion measure. His statement reads:

“Scientifically it’s a human life. The textbooks teach us that. But is it right to take it out to solve a problem? This is why the Church is so strict on this issue because accepting this is kind of like accepting daily murder.

“These particular words of Pope Francis fill my astonished mind and pained heart in the wake of the radical and extreme measure announced by Governor Janet Mills on January 17 that would expand abortion in Maine beyond 24 weeks. This is no longer a discussion of heartlessly destroying a fetus, which is immoral on its own. This is an unborn child. Everything is ready for birth. It is beyond troubling to see how denying the existence of a human life has become so casual for this governor and members of the legislature. Governor Mills has said that the rights of women are not dispensable. If only she had the same compassion for children.

“After 24 weeks, this is not between a woman and her medical provider. It is a woman, her medical provider, and an unborn child. Who is the advocate for the child? This measure would eliminate any protections for children who cannot speak for themselves but will suffer that way. Pope Francis reminds us that this is evil and on its most basic level is “the termination of human life in the maternal womb, in the name of safeguarding other rights.” And what are those rights? They always belong to someone else, not the unborn child. This is senseless.

“The perpetrators of this planned reality are not “serving as a light” and inspiring “others around the country” as they would have you believe. They are attempting to normalize a horrific stance that each life is not sacred or deserving of the basic human dignity given by God and nature.

“As this debate continues, I implore people of good will to speak to your local representatives in the state legislature and ask them to reconsider this unnecessary reform that will bring immeasurable pain to Maine and its people. Join me in advocating and praying that we will find a way for all in our state and society to embrace an ethic which values all human life from conception to natural death.”

Deeley said the Diocese of Portland will continue to accompany any woman, regardless of faith, who is experiencing difficulties in pregnancy through the various Catholic agencies in Maine, including pregnancy help centers and parish-based initiatives like Walking with Moms in Need. He also said the diocese will support and assist those who have been involved in an abortion through the Project Rachel program.

“God is merciful, and it is of paramount importance that people who experience distress grow in understanding of this truth and are guided on a path to emotional and spiritual healing,” the bishop said.

For more information about programs and initiatives in the Diocese of Portland and across the country that care for and promote healing for women and families in need, visit portlanddiocese.org/DobbsDecision.