Swiss Bishops Warn Abortion Vote Opens the Way to Euthanasia

Referendum OK´d as Rival Pro-life Proposal Is Trounced

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ZURICH, Switzerland, JUNE 3, 2002 ( Swiss Catholic bishops deplored an overwhelming decision by voters to legalize abortion, saying it opened the door to euthanasia, Reuters reported.

«The fact that from now on it is possible to end unborn life during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy without punishment opens the door for further dangers to the respect of life both at the start — extension of the period for abortion, removing of a fetus with possible handicaps, etc. — and at its end — euthanasia,» the Catholic bishops´ conference said in a statement today.

«The Swiss bishops appeal to the conscience of each individual. The law is not morally acceptable,» it said.

On Sunday the Swiss accepted by a nearly 3-to-1 margin a proposal to drastically slacken abortion laws dating back 60 years, bringing legislation in line with most other European countries. The new law takes effect Oct. 1.

More than 80% of voters rejected a rival proposal to ban abortion completely.

«It is necessary to recall that for the Catholic Church abortion represents a fundamental attempt against God´s commandment: ´Thou shalt not kill!´ Every life is a gift of God,» the Catholic bishops said in their statement.

The bishops said they did not seek «to blame Christians, men and women, but to make them face their responsibilities.»

«To say this in our secularized society can be poorly understood or totally misunderstood; but it is clear that the fundamental values, such as respect for human life — values that are present in all religions — cannot change according to how the wind blows. The Church will continue to be committed to the promotion and protection of those values,» the bishops stressed.

Lastly, the bishops pointed out that in order to defend life, it is not enough to prohibit abortion: «It is necessary that our society speak out loudly and strongly that it wishes, despite the contrary sign given by this referendum, to reduce [as much as possible] the number of abortions, and that it urgently adopt the means that will enable it to realize its noble desires.»

«New means must be found to offer the necessary help to women in difficulty, and to support families effectively,» the bishops said, addressing the government and Parliament in particular.

Under the new law, a woman can have an abortion after making a written request in which she invokes a «state of distress» which makes it impossible for her to have the baby.

There are about 12,000 abortions a year in Switzerland. According to data from 2000, 44.1% of the country is Catholic, 36.6% is Protestant, 11.7% is without religion, and 2.3% is Muslim.

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