W. H. Marshner
Our Second Century of Lay Apostolate
(Special to The Wanderer)
MARCH 14, 1974
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Sen. James L. Buckley, testifying in behalf of his own human-life amendment (S.J. Res. 119) on the first day of the Bayh Senate subcommittee hearings, removed all doubt that he intended his amending language to protect unborn life from the moment of conception.
Sen. Buckley cited a Sept., 1970, editorial from California Medicine, in which a pro-abortion doctor admitted “the scientific fact, which everyone really knows, that human life begins at conception.”
“I call this editorial to your attention,” Buckley explained, “because it confirms my own understanding of when human life begins.”
In light of this understanding, Buckley denied that his amendment would allow abortifacient drugs and devices to remain on the market, as some analysts have claimed.
“The amendment would, of necessity, forbid the FDA or any other public body,” Buckley said, “from licensing any drug or device the sole purpose of which is to produce an abortion. Moreover, it would be within the power of the government under my amendment to prescribe… all abortional acts, whether or not a woman is pregnant in fact, as a necessary means for giving the amendment’s language full effect.”
Buckley was questioned after completing his testimony by Senators Bayh and Cook (the only two members of the subcommittee who remained throughout the day; Senators Fong and Hruska put in brief appearances). A detailed analysis on the lines of questioning pursued by the individual Senators will appear in a forthcoming issue.
Sen. Buckley was followed by Sen. Jesse Helms, testifying on behalf of the Hogan-Helms amendment (S.J. Res. 130). Helms took exception to certain phraseology in the Buckley proposal and especially section two, which grants an exception to save the life of the mother in a “medical emergency.”
Other congressional witnesses were Rep. Donald M. Fraser, of Minnesota (pro-abortion), Rep. Bella Abzug of New York (pro- abortion), and Rep. John Zwach of Minnesota (anti-abortion).
The final witness was former U.S. Sen. Ernest Gruening of Alaska. Evidently the subcommittee counsel (Heckman) urged the octogenarian Gruening to come out of retirement because he wanted three speakers on each side of the controversy and could find no Senator willing to testify against the pro-life amendment.
The second day of hearings opened with the panels of four Cardinals (Krol, Manning, Medeiros and Cody). Their individual statements appear elsewhere in this issue. A lengthly written statement prepared by the USCC covering both medical and legal evidence was also submitted and a further legal memorandum will be submitted later. One capital development emerged in the questioning of four Cardinals: By persistent questioning, Sen. Cook of Kentucky wormed out of them a clear statement that Section 2 of the Buckley amendment would not be acceptable in terms of Catholic moral principles.
More detailed reports on the Bishops’ testimony and that of other “religious leaders” will follow in subsequent issues.