Statement of the Committee for Pro-Life Affairs of the NCCB
January 24, 1973
The sweeping judgment of the U.S. Supreme Court in the
cases is a flagrant rejection of the unborn child's right to life. The Court has
chosen to ignore the scientific evidence regarding the unborn child's human
growth and development during the first six months of life in the womb of its
mother. No consideration has been given to the parental rights of the child's
In effect, the opinion of the Court has established that abortion-on-request
is the public policy of this nation.
Despite attempts to do so, the Court has failed to justify its opinion
on theological, historical or scientific grounds. Nonetheless, during the first
six months of the child's life, the Court has made the doctor the final judge as
to who will live and who will die. This seems to reverse the history of American
jurisprudence that prohibits the deprivation of the right to life without due
process of law. Never before has a humane society placed such absolute and
unrestricted power in the hands of an individual.
Although as a result of the Court decision abortion may be legally
permissible, it is still morally wrong, and no Court opinion can change the law
of God prohibiting the taking of innocent human life. Therefore, as religious
leaders, we cannot accept the Court's judgment and we urge people not to follow
its reasoning or conclusions.
Meeting as the Bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Affairs, we have formulated the
1. Every legal possibility must be explored to challenge the opinion
of the United States Supreme Court decision that withdraws all legal safeguards
for the right to life of the unborn child.
2. We urge all State legislatures to protect the unborn child to the fullest
extent possible under this decision and to restrict the practice of abortion as
much as they can.
3. The Catholic Church pledges all its educational and informational
resources to a program that will present the case for the sanctity of the
child's life from conception to birth. This will include the scientific
information on the humanity of the unborn child and the progress of human growth
and development of the unborn child, the responsibility and necessity for
society to safeguard the life of the child at every stage of its existence, the
problems that may exist for a woman during pregnancy and more humane and morally
acceptable solutions to these problems.
4. Hospitals and health facilities under Catholic auspices will not find this
judgment of the Court compatible with their faith and moral convictions. We feel
confident that the hospitals will do all in their power to be the type of
institution where good morals and good medicine will be practiced. We are also
confident that our hospitals and health care personnel will be identified by a
dedication to the sanctity of life, and by an acceptance of their conscientious
responsibility to protect the lives of both mother and child. We strongly urge
our doctors, nurses and health care personnel to stand fast in refusing to
provide abortion on request, and in refusing to accept easily available abortion
as justifiable medical care.
In conclusion, we are saying that the Court has written a charter for
abortion on request, and has thereby deprived the unborn child of his or her
human rights. This is bad morality, bad medicine and bad public policy, and it
cannot be harmonized with basic moral principles. We also believe that millions
of our fellow Americans will share our reactions to this opinion. We have no
choice but to urge that the Court's judgment be opposed and rejected.