Archdiocese of Chicago criticizes North Side state senator over Roe v. Wade post

The image posted to Facebook by state Sen. Sara Feigenholtz sparked criticism from religious leaders, including the archdiocese, which labeled it “bigoted imagery.”

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State Sen. Sara Feigenholtz, D-Chicago.

State Sen. Sara Feigenholtz, D-Chicago.

Ashlee Rezin / Sun-Times

A North Side state senator has apologized after being blasted by the Archdiocese of Chicago and religious leaders over a cartoon image she posted on social media in reaction to the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade. 

Hours after the court issued the ruling June 24 ending federal protection of abortion rights, state Sen. Sara Feigenholtz, D-Chicago, posted the image to Facebook depicting a Catholic pope or bishop pointing a handgun at the back of the head of a pregnant Statue of Liberty. That’s according to a screenshot captured by the Chicago Republican Party of the image, which was taken down within a day. 

The Statue of Liberty figure was pictured holding a tablet in her left hand that refers to Genesis 38:24, a verse in the Bible in which a woman is threatened to be burned alive. 

State Sen. Sara Feignholtz, D-Chicago, posted this image June 24 and deleted it soon after.

State Sen. Sara Feignholtz, D-Chicago, posted this image June 24 and deleted it soon after.

Provided by the Chicago Republican Party.

The image sparked criticism in religious circles, including the archdiocese, which labeled it “bigoted imagery.” 

“We must not tolerate hate speech against any group in society, for history has shown that when it goes unchallenged it can become normalized,” a written statement from the Archdiocese of Chicago said. “The senator’s public comments on this matter have shown regrettably little understanding of the offense caused by her posting.

“It was wrong for an elected official to present such a violent image, especially when our city and nation are still reeling from recent acts of heinous gun violence,” the statement said. “It was wrong because it disrespected the contributions that religious communities of all faiths have made in creating a safe society and an environment of civil discourse to counter the dangerous polarization that has gripped our nation.”

The archdiocese demanded “a more fulsome explanation and apology.” 

Feigenholtz said her post came on “an incredibly traumatic day — not just for me but for women around the country in the aftermath of the SCOTUS decision to overturn a woman’s right to choose.  I posted an image that spoke to the moment and then later learned it offended people of faith. I immediately removed the post as I meant no ill will toward anyone who found it offensive, and am sorry. I have and will continue reaching out to friends and community members with the hope of healing.”

The Council of Religious Leaders of Metropolitan Chicago condemned the “anti-Catholic caricatures and inflammatory rhetoric.”

“Regardless of our personal or political views on abortion, bigotry has no place in our community,” the group said in a written statement. “There are more than two million Catholics in the Archdiocese of Chicago. As a council composed of almost every religious tradition in Chicago, we cannot accept the demonization of any faith community.”

Feigenholtz, a longtime former state representative, is finishing her first term in the Senate and is up for re-election in November. 

The Chicago Republican Party called for her resignation over what it termed “viciously anti-Catholic” actions. 

“The posting of this disgusting cartoon has finally but now openly exposed the deep contempt held by Senator Feigenholtz and her liberal woke colleagues toward not only the Catholic Church but towards Christian religion in general,” said Steve Boulton, the Chicago Republican Party chairman. 

Abortion rights remain protected in Illinois under state law. 

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