The Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003 is “a vital step in the right direction for our nation,” said Archbishop Charles Chaput of Denver.
The Chairman of the Committee for Pro-Life Activities of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops issued his statement yesterday after President George W. Bush signed the act into law earlier in the day.
The archbishop said the new law is also a step in the right direction “for the women who have suffered and the children who have died because of this uniquely intimate form of violence.”
The archbishop expressed his deep gratitude to the U.S. president for signing the ban on partial-birth abortions into law and to those Catholics who have worked tirelessly for many years toward this goal.
"For 30 years, abortion has been legal at any time during pregnancy, for any reason or none at all, and by any method one wanted to employ to kill an unborn child,” said Archbishop Chaput. “President Bush's signing of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act marks the first time in three decades that our nation has placed any restriction on an abortion procedure.
"We commend the president for his action, and we pledge our prayers and support to see that this brutal procedure remains prohibited by law and intolerable to the American people,” he said.
Bush signs law banning partial-birth abortions with Cardinal Egan in attendance
WASHINGTON, Nov. 6 (CNA) – The United States is called “to build a culture of life” and become “a more just and welcoming society,” said President George W. Bush at the signing of a new law yesterday that bans partial-birth abortions. Edward Cardinal Egan, Archbishop of New York, was among the dignitaries and members of the House and Senate for the signing in Washington.
“This right to life cannot be granted or denied by government, because it does not come from government, it comes from the Creator of life,” said Bush in his comments before the signing.
The Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003, which Bush said he was honored to sign less than two weeks after it was passed by Congress, “reflects the compassion and humanity of America,” said the president.
“The most basic duty of government is to defend the life of the innocent. Every person, however frail or vulnerable, has a place and a purpose in this world. Every person has a special dignity,” he said.
“For years, a terrible form of violence has been directed against children who are inches from birth, while the law looked the other way. Today, at last, the American people and our government have confronted the violence and come to the defense of the innocent child,” said the president to a resounding applause.
“The best case against partial-birth abortion is a simple description of what happens and to whom it happens. It involves the partial delivery of a live boy or girl, and a sudden, violent end of that life,” explained Bush. “Our nation owes its children a different and better welcome,” he said referring to the thousands of partial-birth abortions committed each year in the U.S.
The president also thanked the members of the Senate and the House for their work in creating the bill. He explained that the legislation was the result of a “a studied decision based upon compelling evidence.”
Bush referred to the testimony of former Surgeon General and pediatrician Dr. C. Everett Koop, who has said that the majority of partial-birth abortions in the U.S. “are not required by medical emergency.”
He also said that, through its research, Congress found the practice or partial-birth abortions to be widely regarded within the medical profession as “unnecessary, … cruel to the child, … harmful to the mother, and a violation of medical ethics.”
The president also quoted the late Pennsylvania Gov. Robert Casey, who once said: “When we look to the unborn child, the real issue is not when life begins, but when love begins.” The governor’s presidential candidacy for the Democratic Party had been blocked because of his pro-life stand.
“[Casey’s] is the generous and merciful spirit of our country at its best,” and it is reflected in the new law, said Bush.
Outside the signing ceremony in Washington, the National Organization for Women held protest. About 50 activists chanted and held signs that read "Keep Abortion Legal".
Less than an hour after Bush signed the bill, a federal judge in Nebraska, District Judge Richard Kopf, issued a limited temporary restraining order against it. Hearings were also held in San Francisco and New York City yesterday on similar challenges. The three court acts have been requested by pro-abortion organizations.
Aware of the impending legal obstacles, Bush pledged at the signing that "the executive branch will vigorously defend this law against any who would try to overturn it in the courts." His comment was received with a standing ovation and the longest round of applause during his remarks.