Cardinal Justin Rigali welcomed the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision upholding the federal Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003 in Gonzales v. Carhart, noting that it is “the first time in 34 years that the Court has upheld a ban of any type of abortion.”
“The Court is taking a clearer and more unobstructed look at the tragic reality of abortion, and speaking about that reality more candidly, than it has in many years,” said the Cardinal, who serves as the chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee for Pro-Life Activities.
While the decision “does not affect the legal status of the great majority of abortions, and does not reverse past decisions claiming to find a right to abortion in the Constitution,” the Archbishop of Philadelphia added, “it provides reasons for renewed hope and renewed effort on the part of pro-life Americans.”
The Cardinal said he welcomed the Court’s explicit recognition of certain key facts:
- abortion is the taking of a human life
- government has a legitimate interest in protecting and preserving life at every stage
- “respect for human life finds an ultimate expression in the bond of love the mother has for her child”
- abortion may also cause grief and sorrow for women
- the ethical integrity of the medical profession, as well as the fabric of our society, is threatened by the acceptance of practices that are difficult to distinguish from infanticide.
“We hope today’s decision marks the beginning of a new dialogue on abortion, in which fair-minded consideration will be given to the genuine interests of unborn children and their mothers, to the need for an ethically sound medical profession, and to society’s desperate need for a foundation of respect for all human life,” the Cardinal concluded.