Witness

End dismemberment abortion now

The internet was recently buzzing with news that actress Michelle Williams, while accepting a Golden Globe award for her latest film, credited her success to her so-called right to abort a baby.

While she didn’t share details about her baby or her circumstances at the time, she said, “I wouldn’t have been able to (be successful) without employing a woman’s right to choose.” To make matters worse, Williams celebrated her abortion on the Golden Globe stage while visibly pregnant. Thank God this child isn’t “standing in the way” of her career.

This story has sent the pro-life movement into a social media frenzy (rightfully so!), but the first place it should send us is to our knees. Since the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion nationally, nearly 62 million unborn babies have been aborted. The brutal act of abortion has gone from a shameful last resort, to “safe, legal and rare,” to now being celebrated on national stages and premier television specials as a positive good.

We are in desperate need of God’s mercy, and the people of God must beg him for it. As St. Pope John Paul II so beautifully stated in “Evangelium Vitae” (“The Gospel of Life”): “A great prayer for life is urgently needed, a prayer which will rise up throughout the world.”

This communion with God through prayer inevitably draws us into further action, such as advancing public policies that respect the dignity of the unborn child, support mothers and families, and protect the medical profession.

Action rooted in prayer is at the core of the Nebraska Catholic Conference’s support of LB814. Introduced by Sen. Suzanne Geist of Lincoln (Legislative District 25) on Jan. 8, LB814 would end the barbaric practice of dismemberment abortion in Nebraska.

Dismemberment abortion is a gruesome procedure in which an abortionist inserts grasping forceps into a woman’s uterus and grabs part of a living unborn child’s body, tears it off, and continues to tear the baby apart, limb by limb, until the child bleeds to death. The abortionist then collects the removed baby parts and reassembles them to ensure the entire baby has been removed.

This abortion method is typically performed between 13 and 24 weeks of a pregnancy. During this time, a baby has fully developed arms and legs (13 weeks), can swallow, yawn, hiccup and smile (16 weeks), and has almost fully formed facial features (24 weeks).

While this abortion method is the most common one in the second trimester throughout the country, thank God it is not common in Nebraska. But one death from dismemberment is one too many. Over the last 10 years, anywhere from 21 to 186 babies have died by live dismemberment every year (1.0% to 7.3% of Nebraska’s abortions).

Former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, the notorious swing vote on so many important issues that the court faced during his tenure, wrote what is readily apparent in dismemberment abortions: “It is a procedure itself laden with the power to devalue human life.” And, as Geist noted after she introduced LB814: “We can all agree that no living human being should be torn apart limb by limb.”

As LB814 begins its journey through the legislative process, we need your prayers and advocacy. To join us in action, visit www.necatholic.org and click on the yellow banner that says “Join Our Network.” As Bishop Joseph G. Hanefeldt of Grand Island often tells us at the NCC: “There is strength in numbers!”

To conclude her acceptance speech, Williams told her audience to “thank God or whomever you pray to that we live in a country founded on the principle that I am free to live by my faith and you are free to live by yours.” We know that our God is the one true God, and he is calling us to live the truth faithfully, courageously and boldly in this world that has forgotten him. Let us together beg our Lord’s mercy, and ask him for courage and strength as we build a Culture of Life and a Civilization of Love.

Tom Venzor is executive director of the Nebraska Catholic Conference, with headquarters in Lincoln. Contact him at tvenzor@necatholic.org.