.- In a message emailed to priests this weekend, the Most Rev. Samuel J. Aquila, Bishop of the Diocese of Fargo, said partial birth abortion is “inhumane by any standards” and that the Supreme Court’s April 18 decision to uphold the ban on partial birth abortion “brings the United States one step closer to protecting all human life through its legal system.”
The bishop expressed cautious optimism, noting that the Court decision contains an affirmation of the life of the unborn child, even if it is not a complete understanding, but warning those who work to end abortion against becoming lax in their efforts. “Promotion of the dignity of human life and education efforts at all levels must continue in order to change the hearts and minds of those who support abortion,” he stated.
“Despite its many limitations, this partial birth abortion ban decision provides hope,” Bishop Aquila wrote, pointing out that the Court stated, “No one would dispute that, for many, D&E is a procedure itself laden with the power to devalue human life. Congress could nonetheless conclude that the type of abortion proscribed by the Act requires specific regulation because it implicates additional ethical and moral concerns that justify a special prohibition. Congress determined that the abortion methods it proscribed had a ‘disturbing similarity to the killing of a newborn infant’.”
The bishop continued, “In full truth, the Church understands that there is an equality, not a mere similarity, between the death of a child through abortion and taking a life after birth. Still, this is a positive step by the government in protecting the common good, which the Church teaches it must do. That begins with protecting inalienable rights, beginning with the right to life from the moment of conception. The dignity of human life begins at the moment of conception and extends through natural death. The dignity of the human being is not less prior to birth than after birth.”
Bishop Aquila also noted that the decision addresses “the reality of the post-abortion grief that is experienced by many of the parents who have chosen to abort their babies. As priests who celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation we are well aware of the suffering in the lives of women who have aborted their child. We also recognize that this grief and need for forgiveness and healing extends to the fathers of the children and other family members involved in this decision.”
While noting that he is thankful for the Supreme Court’s decision, he cautioned priests and the faithful to “not lose sight of the fact that much of the good work that is accomplished toward the protection of human life has its roots within our own families and our own communities.”
“Here in North Dakota,” the bishop wrote, “we can enact a trigger ban on abortion. This ban would acknowledge the inalienable right to life which is intended by our Constitution, and it would go into effect when it is deemed that prevailing constitutional interpretation would allow this positive affirmation of the right to life to stand. The recent Supreme Court decision may be the first step toward that goal.” He encouraged the priests and the faithful to act on Action Alerts provided by the North Dakota Catholic Conference in regard to HB 1466.