Catholic Bishops’ Statement on Partial Birth Abortion
Washington, DC—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."