PARTIAL-BIRTH ABORTIONS (House of Representatives - April 17, 1996)

It was instructive that the veto ceremony included no physician able to explain how a woman's physical health is protected by almost fully delivering her living child, and then killing that child in the most inhumane manner imaginable before completing the delivery. As a matter of fact, a partial-birth abortion presents a health risk to the woman. Dr. Warren Hern, who wrote the most widely used textbook on how to perform abortions , has said of partial-birth abortions : `I would dispute any statement that this is the safest procedure to use.'

Mr. President, all abortions are lethal for unborn children, and many are unsafe for their mothers. This is even more evident in the late-term, partial-birth abortion , in which children are killed cruelly, their mothers placed at risk, and the society that condones it brutalized in the process.

As Catholic bishops and as citizens of the United States, we strenuously oppose and condemn your veto of H.R. 1833 which will allow partial-birth abortions to continue.

In the coming weeks and months, each of us, as well as our bishops' conference, will do all we can to educate people about partial-birth abortions . We will inform them that partial-birth abortions will continue because you chose to veto H.R. 1833.

We will also urge Catholics and other people of good will--including the 65% of self-described `pro-choice' voters who oppose partial-birth abortions --to do all that they can to urge Congress to override this shameful veto.

Mr. President, your action on this matter takes our nation to a critical turning point in its treatment of helpless human beings inside and outside the womb. It moves our nation one step further toward acceptance of infanticide. Combined with the two recent federal appeals court decisions seeking to legitimize assisted suicide, it sounds the alarm that public officials are moving our society ever more rapidly to embrace a culture of death.

Writing this response to you in unison is, on our part, virtually unprecedented. It will, we hope, underscore our resolve to be unremitting and unambiguous in our defense of human life.

Sincerely yours,

1 Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, Archbishop of Chicago; Cardinal James Hickey, Archbishop of Washington; Cardinal Bernard Law, Archbishop of Boston; Cardinal Adam Maida, Archbishop of Detroit; Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, Archbishop of Philadelphia; Cardinal William Keeler, Archbishop of Baltimore; Cardinal Roger Mahony, Archbishop of Los Angeles; Cardinal John O'Connor, Archbishop of New York; Most Rev. Anthony Pilla, President, National Conference of Catholic Bishops.