Partial Birth Abortion: Southern Baptists' Statement

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The following letter was sent to President Clinton by the 16.6-million-member Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). It was signed by the president of the convention and by all the living past presidents of the convention.

The Southern Baptist Convention

June 6, 1996

The President
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President,

It is with heavy hearts and profound disappointment that we express our united and unambiguous opposition to your veto of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act. This grisly procedure cannot be morally justified.

We appeal to you not only as religious leaders, but as many of the former presidents of the Christian denomination you claim as your own, the Southern Baptist Convention. You should know that our concern is felt very deeply, as evidenced by the fact that this is the only time in the 160-year history of our denomination that such a letter has been sent to a United States President.

Partial-birth abortion is, by any civilized moral measurement, inhumane and unconscionable. With ultrasound for guidance, a doctor uses forceps and hands to deliver an intact baby feet first until only the head remains in the birth canal. The doctor pierces the base of the baby's skull with surgical scissors. He or she then inserts a cannula into the incision and suctions out the brain of the baby so the head can be collapsed. That you could countenance this procedure, and with one stroke of your pen, veto a ban on partial-birth abortions is unimaginable to us.

Your often-repeated rationale for an exception "for the mother's health" is a discredited, catch-all loophole which has been demonstrated to include any reason the mother so desires.

You stated that you had prayed about this issue before deciding to veto the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban. It is difficult for us to understand that God somehow would condone this procedure in the light of what the Bible says about unborn human life, or perhaps, you were gravely misinformed about the barbaric nature of the procedure.

The Old Testament scriptures demonstrate that every human being is made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). Furthermore, God told the prophet Jeremiah that he was known intimately from even before he was formed in the womb (Jeremiah 1:4-6). Every human life is sacred and possesses unique dignity. Jesus our Lord showed special love and regard for children during His earthly ministry and cursed those who would despise His little ones (Mark 10:14-16). Partial-birth abortion is not defensible in light of God's revelation. As our friends, the American Roman Catholic Cardinals, said in their April 16, 1996 letter to you, partial-birth abortion is "more akin to infanticide than abortion".

The Apostle Paul enjoined Christians to restore with gentleness those who are caught in "any trespass" (Galatians 6:1). We appeal to you in that spirit to repent of your veto of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act and to express publicly your personal regret at having made such a decision in the first place.

Mr. President, should you, under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, reverse your thihking on this matter and sign the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act into law, we will defend you and your decision in the face of the enemies of the sanctity of every human life.

We further pledge that we, and the overwhelming majority of Southern Baptists, will do everything we are able to encourage Congress to override this shameful veto. As you know, Southern Baptists are on record for their decade-and-a-half-long, adamant opposition to abortion. We can assure you that Southern Baptists are even more vigorously opposed to the partial-birth abortion procedure.

We pray for you and for the awesome responsibilities of the high office which God has allowed you to hold. We know these duties can only be fulfilled responsibly by God's grace and wisdom. God bless you, Mr. President, and God bless America.

Dr. Franklin Paschall, Pres. 1967 & 1968
Dr. W. A. Criswell, Pres. 1969 & 1970
Dr. James Sullivan, Pres. 1977
Dr. Adrian Rogers, Pres. 1980, 1987, 1988
Dr. Bailey Smith, Pres. l981 & 1982
Dr. James T. Draper, Jr., Pres. 1983 & 1984
Dr Charles F. Stanley, Pres. 1985 & 1986
Dr. Jerry Vines, Pres. 1989 & 1990
Dr. H. Edwin Young, Pres. 1993 & 1994
Dr. James Henry, Pres. 1995 & 1996

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Written July 1996. Posted 25 Jan 2001.

Copyright 1996 by Ohio Right to Life
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