WASHINGTON (September 22, 2000) -- The Executive Director of the Catholic Bishops' Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities has urged Congress to approve the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act.
Action on the bill (H. R. 4292) is expected the week of September 25. The legislation reaffirms that each infant who is fully born and shows signs of life must be recognized in law as a human person. "The point is so obvious that, until recently, the chief argument against the Act was that it seemed redundant and unnecessary," Gail Quinn said in a letter to members of Congress (September 21).
"That argument was dramatically rebutted in a July 20 statement issued by the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL)," Ms. Quinn said. "Citing the U.S. Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade abortion decision, NARAL criticized H.R. 4292 for 'directly contradicting one of Roe's central tenets.' NARAL faulted the Act for reaffirming that infants born prematurely are human persons, and declared: 'Roe v. Wade clearly states that women have the right to choose prior to fetal viability.'"
"Many have criticized abortion advocates for insisting on the vacuously incomplete phrase 'right to choose,'" Ms. Quinn noted. "We had assumed the phrase was coined to avoid the brutal reality of abortion. Now an even more grim possibility presents itself: the object of the verb was omitted so the 'pro-choice' agenda could encompass killing after birth, in addition to killing prior to birth by abortion."
"NARAL was no doubt emboldened to unveil this broader agenda by recent abortion decisions in the federal courts," Ms. Quinn continued. The NCCB official said the Supreme Court, in its June 28 decision in Stenberg v. Carhart, "extended its abortion jurisprudence to protect the killing of partly-born children--giving encouragement, however unwittingly, to those who would justify outright infanticide." She also noted that the Third Circuit Court of Appeals struck down New Jersey's ban on partial-birth abortion, in July, saying that a partly-born child is not in the process of being born because "a woman seeking an abortion is plainly not seeking to give birth."
"This appalling trend is sufficient in itself to warrant immediate passage of H.R. 4292," Ms. Quinn stated.
Noting that some physicians and ethicists have claimed that the Act would limit medical decision-making regarding infants with little chance of survival, Ms. Quinn said the legal system has never accepted the proposition that these patients are not human persons or that killing such a patient is anything but a homicide.
"The Supreme Court's majority has made it clear that, until the Court's own thinking changes or a constitutional amendment can be passed, no child in the womb (or even partly in the womb) will have meaningful legal protection," she said. "Our immediate task, as this Congress nears its end, is to ensure that the lethal mentality of Roe does not claim new victims-vulnerable human beings struggling for their lives outside the womb."
. NOTE: The full text of Ms. Quinn's letter is available on the Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities website,