DAILY CATHOLIC FRI-SAT-SUN November 20-22, 1998 vol. 9, no. 228
NEWS & VIEWS
LOUISIANA ABORTION DEFINITION CHALLENGED IN COURT US BISHOPS URGE CATHOLIC POLITICIANS TO DEFEND LIFE
NEW ORLEANS (CWNews.com) - Pro-abortion groups began a court challenge on Thursday against a new Louisiana law that defines partial-birth abortion as any procedure in which a living unborn child is partially delivered before he is killed.
Opponents said defining a fetus as a living baby as soon as it enters the birth canal could potentially outlaw every abortion. "It comes down to how you decide when pregnancy ends and when birth begins," said Assistant Attorney General Roy Mongrue, who was to defend the law in federal district court.
The crux of the argument is the US Supreme Court's decision in the 1973 Roe v. Wade case that women have a right to abortion in the first two-thirds of pregnancy, when the child cannot survive outside the womb. Mongrue said he will argue that once the fetus is outside the womb and in the birth canal, its stage of development is irrelevant -- it's a child.
Twenty-eight states have passed laws banning partial-birth abortions, but courts have overturned nine of those laws, in most cases saying that the law is too vague and could ban all abortions. Only in eight states have the laws remained on the books without challenge.
Meanwhile, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington, DC for their biannual meeting urged Catholic politicians on Wednesday to support the dignity of all human life, not just in their personal beliefs but in their official duties.
The bishops approved a statement 217 to 30 with one of the strongest pro-life declarations ever made by the conference. First, they urged all Catholics to vote for pro-life candidates running for public office, and then told Catholic politicians that agreeing with the Church's teachings on poverty, housing, and health care does not exempt them from the necessity to protect life. Being "right" on those issues "can never excuse a wrong choice regarding direct attacks on innocent human life," they said.
Some bishops worried that telling politicians how to vote could create a backlash against the Church. "Any statement that tells people how to vote will be ill-received by Catholic and non-Catholic alike," said Bishop Howard Hubbard of Albany, New York. "If a Catholic officeholder changes his position on life issues of abortion or the death penalty ... he or she could well be accused by political opponents of caving in to the dictates of the church, a tool of the bishops," Bishop Hubbard said. "We should trust people ... to cast their votes."
In other business on Wednesday, the bishops also discussed
proposed standards for Catholic colleges and universities
which would require presidents of those institutions to
take an oath of fidelity to the Church and require
theologians to receive permission from local bishops to
teach. The standards would also urge the schools to recruit
faithful Catholics as faculty.
Articles provided through Catholic World News Service.
NEWS & VIEWS