NEW YORK—Forty-five distinguished Americans have signed a statement of pro-life principle and concern which appeared in the March 25th issue of National Review.
The document is the result of talks held recently at the Ethics and Public Policy Center of Washington. D.C. It sets forth a pro-life vision for America and lays out a set of political, legal, and cultural strategies to achieve that vision.
Signers include Fr. Frank Pavone, Priests for Life; Bernard Nathanson. M.D., Center for Clinical and Research Ethics, Vanderbilt University; Mary Ann Glendon, Harvard University: Gary Bauer, Family Research Council; Fr. Richard John Neuhaus. Institute on Religion and Public Life: Mary Cunningham Agee, Nurturing Network; John C. Willke, M.D., Life Issues Institute; and William Kristol, Project for the Republican Future.
"That America has the most permissive abortion regime among the world's democracies is a betrayal of the American promise of justice for all. That is why a new sense of moral concern is stirring throughout our country in this election year. That is why millions of Americans have refused to accept the court's admonition in Planned Parenthood v. Casey to stop debating the issue," the signers say.
The effects of Roe v. Wade, they contend, cannot be overstated.
''The extent of the abortion license and its reach into other areas of law and public policy is widely underestimated. We believe that, as citizens of the United States, we have the responsibility to discuss with our fellow citizens the facts of the abortion license and its impact on our common life.... The abortion license has helped to erode the moral foundations of the American civic community. Right now we are not the country we ought to be. That is why our national conscience is troubled. That distress is, to us, a sign of moral vitality. We speak now because we seek so defend the America we love. We speak to promote the cause of an America in which women and men, together, rebuild the fabric of civil society by acknowledging our common responsibility to serve and protect the weakest and most vulnerable among us.''
The national pro-life movement comes in for high praise from the panel. "Pro-life service to women in crisis and pro-life advocacy on behalf of legal reform are expressions of our highest ideals as citizens of the United States."
Not only are the unborn and their mothers causes for great concern, but fathers are also given special attention by the signers.
''Fathers,'' they maintain, "have also been harmed and dehumanized by the abortion license. Some watch their children killed against their will; others learn to their distress only much later that a child they would have raised is dead. Even when agreeing to support the abortion decision, fathers, like mothers, suppress their grief, deny their protective instincts, and otherwise damage themselves when they allow the killing of their own children.
''Abortion contributes to the marginalization of fatherhood in America, which many agree is a primary cause of the alarming breakdown of American family life."
All Americans are invited to think and talk about the sanctity of life. "We ask our neighbors of whatever political persuasion or current conviction on the matter of abortion, to engage in a great national debate about the America we seek, and the relationship of the abortion license in that future. We ask all Americans to join with us in providing effective, compassionate service to women in crisis. Work on alternatives to abortion and on the reform of adoption laws and procedures can create the conditions for a new dialog on the future of abortion law and practice in America.
"We are ready for that new conversation. We invite all our neighbors to join us."