WASHINGTON (October 20, 2000) --Galveston-Houston Bishop Joseph A. Fiorenza, the president of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops/U.S. Catholic Conference, and Baltimore archbishop, Cardinal William H. Keeler, chairman of the Conference's Pro-life Activities Committee, have issued the following statement, responding to inquiries about the Conference's position on partial birth abortion and whether the Conference supports inclusion of language concerning the health of the mother, which has been broadly interpreted by the courts.
"Throughout the long electoral period, we Bishops, in a non-partisan fashion, have sought to encourage the full participation of our Catholic people in the political process. Beginning with issuance of our statement, Faithful Citizenship, last year and through a variety of other means, the Bishops' Conference has tried to inform our people about the issues involved and the positions of the candidates on them. In dioceses throughout the country the same process of education and information has taken place. We ardently hope that this will make a contribution to reversing the trend of the majority of recent elections in which fewer and fewer of our fellow citizens -- whether Catholic or not-- have exercised the privilege and responsibility of voting.
"As Catholics we benefit from a rich tradition of public theology and social teaching, which provides us with a unique guide in the search for the common good. We are unconditionally pro-life, since respect for the right to life is necessary for a human being to be able to exercise any other human right.
"We have received inquiries whether the National Conference of Catholic Bishops would lend support to a ban on partial-birth abortion that would include an exception for the health of the mother. We want to state again that such an exception is too broad. We look for the elimination of abortion, beginning with the banning of partial birth abortion, without reservation or exception.
"We unite our commitment to this fundamental right with our many other concerns in such fields as family life, social justice, and global solidarity in order to build up the common good and promote the dignity of each person."