Cardinal O'Connor's strong words against partial-birth abortions over the weekend matched the equally firm denouncements from Catholic and pro-life leaders across the nation after President Clinton vetoed legislation April 10 that would have banned the procedure.
The other American cardinals responded individually and as a group (story. Page 3) with forceful criticism of the president's action.
Father Frank A. Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, a Staten Island-based pro-life network of more than 40,000 priests and deacons, said the procedure "is one of many proofs of how extreme the so-called pro-choice movement is."
"Anyone who intends to speak or vote in favor of this president should be informed of what partial-birth abortion is" he said, "and about what Mr. Clinton has done to see that it remains part of American life."
Other leaders and groups also condemned the veto.
Supreme Knight Virgil C. Dechant, head of the 15 million-member Knights of Columbus, said it appears the president is "simply too beholden to his most extreme pro-abortion supporters to take even this very limited action on behalf of unborn children. We are all the losers."
Douglas Johnson, legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee, charged the president would allow "thousands of living, late-term babies to be mostly delivered and then painfully killed" to pay a political debt to pro-abortion activists.
"Although 71 percent of voters nationwide support a ban on partial-birth abortion...today the president has shown himself to be uncompromising in his advocacy of abortion," said Rep. Charles T. Canady, R-Fla., who introduced the bill in the House.