Catholic Church leaders in Virginia criticized Gov. Ralph Northam on Friday for forcing taxpayers to subsidize the killing of unborn babies in abortions through a new state law.

In a statement, Arlington Bishop Michael Burbidge and Richmond Bishop Barry Knestout described the law as “deplorable policy” that perpetuates the lie that aborting an unborn baby is “health care,” the Catholic News Service reports.

Northam, the Democrat leader notorious for defending infanticide, signed a law last week to repeal a ban on elective abortion coverage in the state Affordable Care Act health exchange, which is subsidized by tax dollars.

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The Catholic bishops and pro-life organizations urged Northam and lawmakers to reject the abortion expansion, but the Democrat-controlled state legislature passed it anyway. It goes into effect July 1.

“Under state law for the past decade, plans participating in Virginia’s health exchange were prohibited from covering most abortions,” the bishops said. “This fundamentally pro-life provision undoubtedly saved many lives.”

Now these health care plans will cover abortion on demand for any reason, subsidized by taxpayers, they continued.

“We decry the enactment of this deplorable policy, which is built on the destructive lie that abortion is health care,” Burbidge and Knestout said in the statement. “We are saddened when we contemplate the increased number of unborn lives likely to be lost as a result.”

The bishops said the law will not discourage them from continuing to fight for unborn babies.

“Without despair, and with maximum determination, we will continue our advocacy for the preeminent priority of protecting unborn children from this threat,” they said. “So many lives, who have no voice except ours, depend on it.”

Abortion activists claimed the legislation is necessary because poor women may not be able to afford abortions on their own.

But polls consistently show that most Americans oppose taxpayer-funded abortions, including the low-income people whom abortion activists claim to want to help. A January poll from Marist found that 58 percent of Americans oppose using tax dollars to fund abortions.

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