WASHINGTON (November 15, 2000) -- In a statement called "Abortion and the Court: Advancing the Culture of Death," the Catholic bishops said the Court's abortion rulings have brought the nation's legal system "to the brink of endorsing infanticide."
From its 1973 rulings (Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton), which legalized abortion on request, to its decision in June striking down Nebraska's ban on partial-birth abortion, these rulings "dealt a devastating blow to the most fundamental human right--the right to life," the statement said.
"As United States citizens, we deplore the fact that our nation is at risk of forgetting the promise made to generations yet unborn by our Declaration of Independence: that our nation would respect life as first among the inalienable rights bestowed on us by our Creator. To uphold that promise, the nation's founders pledged their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor. We must do no less," the Bishops declared.
The Bishops recommitted themselves to reversing the abortion decisions and invited others to join in exploring all avenues for legal reform, including a constitutional amendment.
The Bishops adopted the statement Nov. 15, during the course of their semi-annual meeting.
The statement noted that in the Casey decision in 1992, the Court could not muster a majority for the view that Roe and Doe were rightly decided. "Yet the controlling opinion insisted that even if these decisions were wrong, they must stand because Americans have now fashioned their way of life on the availability of abortion."
"No more damning indictment of Roe's coarsening effect on our national character could be imagined," the Bishops said, adding that these rulings have helped to create an abortion culture:
- in which many Americans turn to the destruction of innocent life as an answer to personal, social and personal problems.
- which encourages many young men to feel no sense of responsibility to take care of the children they helped to create and no loyalty to their child's mother.
- in which men who do feel responsibility for their children are left helpless to protect them.
- whose casualties include not only the unborn, but the countless thousands of women who have suffered physically, emotionally and spiritually from the deadly effects of abortion."
- in which fathers, grandparents, siblings, indeed entire families, suffer and are forever changed by the loss of a child.
"However," the statement continued, "any hope that the Court might reverse course on abortion itself was shattered this year. In Stenberg v. Carhart, a majority of five justices ruled that even the killing of a child mostly born alive is protected by what the Court called 'the woman's right to choose'."
"This decision has brought our legal system to the brink of endorsing infanticide," the Bishops said. "Already the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League has used its logic to attack congressional efforts to reaffirm that a child completely born alive is a legal person."
"As religious leaders, we know that human life is our first gift from a loving Father and the condition for all other earthly goods. We know that no human government can legitimately deny the right to life or restrict it to certain classes of human beings. Therefore, the Court's abortion decisions deserve only to be condemned, repudiated and ultimately reversed."