WASHINGTON (July 23, 2002) –- Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua has urged the House of Representatives to support the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act (H.R. 4965), and to oppose any weakening amendments, including the Hoyer/Greenwood bill (H.R. 2702), which may be offered as a substitute.
In a July 23 letter to members of the House, Cardinal Bevilacqua said that H.R. 4965 forbids "a particularly cruel procedure that ends the lives of children who are inches away from birth." The Cardinal noted that the House has three times approved similar bills banning this practice, and that the legislation passed Congress twice but was vetoed by President Clinton on both occasions. "President Bush has said he will sign a bill to ban partial-birth abortion, so the time to enact this ban is now," Cardinal Bevilacqua wrote.
The Cardinal is Chairman of the Bishops' Committee for Pro-Life Activities.
In his letter, Cardinal Bevilacqua noted that more than half the states have enacted laws to ban partial-birth abortion, and polls consistently show that the overwhelming majority of Americans (70 percent and more) support such a ban. However, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Stenberg v. Carhart, struck down Nebraska's ban on the procedure and effectively called into question the constitutionality of other state bans and the twice-passed federal ban.
Cardinal Bevilacqua said H.R. 4965 responds to the question of constitutionality through precise and narrowly-worded language that addresses the Court's concern about vagueness.
The bill also speaks to the Court's desire to protect women's health, the Cardinal wrote. "The bill presents Congress's findings, based on years of testimony, that partial-birth abortion is not necessary to preserve women's health, and in fact may pose serious health risks."
"Please vote for H.R. 4965, oppose all weakening amendments, and reject this indefensible and inhumane procedure once and for all," Cardinal Bevilacqua said.
Included with the letter was a fact sheet on the deficiencies of H.R. 2702, the so-called "Late Term Abortion Restriction Act," which purports to ban all post-viability abortions, including partial-birth abortions. "However, the legislation would do nothing of the kind," the fact sheet said. "It would not ban the majority of partial-birth abortions, which is the issue now before Congress, and would not ban late term abortions."