Letter from Bishop Skylstad re Partial Birth Abortion

Catholic Diocese of Spokane
Office of the Bishop

May 2, 1996

To the People of God of the Church in Eastern Washington:

My dear friends,

New life is emerging all around us as we celebrate the beginning of Spring. Yet, at the same time, human life is being attacked in so many ways in our world today through armed conflict, violence, and the threat to the lives of the elderly, the dying, and the unborn child. I am writing to you today to ask you to join with me in trying to find ways to protect the lives of the unborn. I ask you to let our federal officials know how important it is to create some limits to the practice of abortion in our country. I believe we need to tell our President that the American people overwhelmingly reject the practice of partial birth late-term abortion.

As you are undoubtedly aware from following our Catholic and secular media, President Clinton has vetoed the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban (HR 1833). This bill would have eliminated the heinous procedure of partially birthing the child, suctioning out the brain, and then completing the delivery. The President said he cannot sign the bill unless it contains an exemption "to protect serious health risks," particularly preserving "an ability to ever have children again."

The bill presently contains an exemption to save the life of the mother. The courts have demonstrated that the "health" of the mother exception allows, for all practical purposes, abortion on demand. It is a further appalling leap of logic to allow "near-infanticide" in order to insure that a mother may give birth to another most wanted child. This procedure is a stark reminder of how far we have become immersed in the "culture of death."

I join with all the Cardinals of the United States and the President of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops in acknowledging that the "veto of this bill is beyond comprehension to those who hold human life sacred." Now is the time to speak up! Please write, call, or FAX our U.S. Senators and your Congresspersons. Call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121, or call the member's local offices. Messages can also be sent by FAX, E-mail, or telegram.

Ask them to vote to override President Clinton's veto of HR 1833, the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act.

We should also engage our family, friends, co-workers, and colleagues in discussion about this issue. As Cardinal Bernardin wrote in his letter to the President, "Now is the time for reasoned debate and consensus building. The politics of extremism must be left behind. Let us work together to protect the lives of the vulnerable--most especially the unborn."

It is definitely a challenge to celebrate the new life that Spring offers if we ignore the threat to human life, especially the life of the unborn. Remember to pray always that we may help create a culture that respects the gift of life. Thank you for all you do to respect the life and dignity of each human person.

Sincerely your brother in Christ,

/s/ William S. Skylstad
Bishop of Spokane