WASHINGTON (October 19, 1999) --Cardinal William Keeler has urged Senate support for the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act. He said partial-birth abortion, wherein an infant is killed after being forcibly partially delivered outside his or her mother's body, is a procedure "more akin to infanticide than abortion."
"To allow this to continue unchecked violates every principle of human rights and decency this country has always stood for," the Cardinal said. "So unique and brutal is this procedure that the majority of those Americans who are pro-life and those who describe themselves as pro-choice agree that it ought to be banned."
In a letter sent to every member of the Senate, Cardinal Keeler, Chairman of the Committee for Pro-Life Activities, National Conference of Catholic Bishops, expressed support for legislation (S. 1692) which would ban partial-birth abortion.
The Senate vote on the bill is expected later this week.
An unusual consensus to ban partial-birth abortion is reflected in the number of states which have moved to prohibit the practice within their own borders, the Cardinal said. He noted that bans on partial-birth abortions have taken legal effect in at least eight states. "While local or federal courts have enjoined many other state laws, claiming that they are 'vague,' this legislation is both clear and specific," Cardinal Keeler wrote. "It bans the direct killing of a child who is partially delivered alive--a form of killing which the Supreme Court explicitly exempted from the scope of its Roe v. Wade decision when it left intact a ban on the killing of a child in the process of parturition."
Cardinal Keeler said it has become clear during the national debate over partial-birth abortion that they are never medically necessary. He pointed out that the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), which opposes the ban, has acknowledged that the procedure is never necessary to save a woman's life or preserve her health (ACOG Statement of Policy, January 12, 1997).
"Partial-birth abortion has only one purpose: to destroy the lives of children who are inches away from being completely born alive," Cardinal Keeler told the Senate. "Please vote for S. 1692 and ban this indefensible procedure once and for all."