Excerpts From the Prelates' Letter to Lawmakers on Partial-Birth Abortion:

Dear Member of Congress,

Soon you will vote on an issue that is critically important, needlessly misunderstood, and singularly indicative of the extent to which our nation respects the dignity of human life. At issue is H.R. 1833, the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, which was vetoed by President Clinton.

We want to be clear. We believe that every human life is a gift from God, and that no child should ever die by abortion. We believe not only that innocent human life must not be taken, but also that each human life should be protected, nurtured and sustained. At the same time, the partial-birth procedure causes us particular alarm because it is an especially egregious attack on a child in the very process of being born….

Whether or not you agree with our moral beliefs, we urge you to heed the voice of physicians who have come forward to explain why partial-birth abortions are never medically necessary. Obstetricians, gynecologists and perinatologists are emphatic: it is never necessary to force a child into a breech position, virtually complete delivery, and then kill the child, in order to protect a woman's health or future fertility. Rather, such a procedure poses its own risks to a woman's health and fertility….

As a nation, as a people, we must not continue down the path that takes us one step further to acceptance of infanticide. If killing mostly-born children is justified as a natural extension of abortion, this same lethal logic can be extended tomorrow a few inches more-to justify killing newborn children.

As the assembled Catholic cardinals of the United States and the President of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, we join in this unprecedented joint letter to urge you to vote to override the presidential veto of H.R. 1833.