He points to the Gosnell case as awakening Americans' consciences
The U.S. bishops’ point man on pro-life issues is calling on federal legislators to support a bill that would ban late-term abortions after unborn children are able to feel pain.
“(O)ur citizens were deeply shaken by the revelations of Dr. Kermit Gosnell’s actions that led to his being convicted of murder and other crimes committed in the course of providing abortions,” Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston said in a June 14 letter to U.S. representatives.
“This tragic circumstance led many Americans to realize that our permissive laws and attitudes have allowed the abortion industry to undertake these procedures. All decent and humane people are repulsed by the callous and barbarous treatment of women and children in Gosnell’s clinic, and in other clinics that abort children after 20 weeks.”
Gosnell, an abortionist in Philadelphia, drew media attention when he was recently convicted of murdering several babies who survived his abortions. The trial unveiled a filthy clinic with numerous health code violations and poor treatment of women.
The trial prompted a renewed push among pro-life activists to fight against late-term abortions, which are performed on unborn children the same age as the babies murdered by Gosnell.
Speaking as chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee for Pro-Life Activities, Cardinal O’Malley urged the passage of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.
The legislation would ban abortions 20 weeks into a pregnancy or later on the ground that unborn children are capable of feeling pain by this point.
Cardinal O’Malley said eyewitnesses of the children killed at Gosnell’s clinic saw them born alive and “crying or screaming in pain, until their lives were intentionally and deliberately ended.”
He said late-term abortions also pose “serious dangers” to women, several of whom have died or suffered serious complications from the procedures.
The cardinal also countered arguments that “mainstream” abortion clinics should handle the procedures instead.
“This misses the point,” he said. “Many women were sent to Gosnell by those very clinics, because they wanted nothing to do with abortions performed at such a late stage in the child’s development. What does it say about us as a nation, if we will not act against abortions that even full-time abortionists find abhorrent?”
Cardinal O’Malley explained that Catholic teaching recognizes that “every child, at every moment of existence, deserves love and the protection of the law.”
“We do not believe any person or government has the right to take the life of an innocent human being – and we hold that the real problems that lead women to consider abortion should be addressed with solutions that support both mother and child,” he said.
The bill’s author, Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), discussed the bill in a June 13 statement.
“Knowingly subjecting our innocent unborn children to dismemberment in the womb, particularly when they have developed to the point that they can feel excruciating pain every terrible moment leading up to their undeserved deaths, belies everything America was called to be,” he said. “This is not who we are.”
U.S. Supreme Court decisions in 1973 struck down most states’ abortion laws nationwide. Legislation must be carefully tailored to pass the high court’s permissive standards, and it is unclear how the court would react to the proposed bill.
A similar measure applying only to the District of Columbia failed to pass the House last year, the Washington Post reports.
Supporters of the bill are seeking to rally support on social media sites like Twitter using the hashtag “#theyfeelpain.”