On March 7, the seven active U.S. cardinals wrote to President Bill Clinton asking that he pass the partial-birth abortion ban in light of abortion supporter Ron Fitzsimmons’ admission that he gave false statistics during debate on the issue.
Below is the full text of the cardinals’ letter and of the letter Most Rev. David B. Thompson, Bishop of Charleston, wrote to the president on March 12:
Dear Mr. President,
We write to you again about one of the most urgent moral issues of this day — partial-birth abortion. We do so in the wake of recent revelations corroborating the arguments of those who seek a ban on this practice and contradicting the arguments of its proponents. Fortunately, the public has learned a great deal through these disclosures.
The public has learned that partial-birth abortions are performed not a few hundred times a year, but thousands of times each year. It has learned that partial-birth abortion is used primarily in the fifth and sixth months of pregnancy, and that restri ctions confined to the third trimester would therefore be inadequate. The public has also learned that the vast majority of these procedures are performed on the healthy babies of healthy women.
Disclosures have also made clear, as those who seek to ban this practice have testified, that there are no published data to support a claim that partial-birth abortions may ever be necessary to preserve a woman’s life, health or future fertility. To t he contrary, hundreds of doctors, most specialists in maternal and fetal medicine, have explained why partial-birth abortion itself poses, not avoids, significant risks to women’s health and future fertility. Clearly, any claim that partial-birth abortion must be available to protect a woman’s health has no basis in fact.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recently reversed itself in this regard. ACOG had said that partial-birth abortion “may be” the safest procedure in a particular circumstance, but one of its spokespersons now says “It may not be.” The College is clear in saying that partial-birth abortion is never the only procedure that will preserve a woman’s health or fertility in any situation.
Mr. President, you are in a unique position to ensure respect for all human rights, including the right to life which is denied to infants who are brutally killed in partial-birth abortion.
We urge you to seize the opportunity before you to explain that you were misled, as were most Americans. We urge you to ask Congress to pass a bill banning partial-birth abortions, and let it be known that you will sign it into law. For our part, we wi ll continue to urge that such a bill is passed in both Houses of Congress with sufficient votes to ensure that it will become the law of the land.
Hoping we will be together on this issue, we are,Cardinal Anthony J. Bevilacqua of Philadelphia, Cardinal James A. Hickey of Washington, Cardinal William H. Keeler of Baltimore, Cardinal Bernard F. Law of Boston, Cardinal Roger M. Mahony of Los Ange les, Cardinal Adam J. Maida of Detroit, and Cardinal John J. O’Connor of New York and Bishop Anthony M. Pilla of Cleveland, president of the U.S. bishops
Dear Mr. President:I write to you to support the position taken by the American Catholic Cardinals in their March 7, 1997 letter to you regarding partial-birth abortion.
Recent disclosures have supported the position that partial-birth abortions are not rare procedures done to protect the life or health of the mother, but are performed thousands of times a year on healthy babies of healthy women. You, members of Congre ss and the public were grossly misled about the facts surrounding this brutal procedure.
I encourage you to ask Congress to pass legislation banning partial-birth abortion and let it be known that you will sign it into law.
Most Rev. David B. ThompsonBishop of Charleston