Euro Funds Barred from Funding Abortion in Poor Nations, Bishops Say

Comment in Wake of Parliamentary Approval of Sandbaek Report

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BRUSSELS, Belgium, FEB. 13, 2003 ( Following the European Parliament’s approval of a report seeking aid for «sexual and reproductive health» programs abroad, a bishops’ commission noted that EU aid cannot be allocated to fund abortion.

The Commission of Episcopal Conferences of the European Community in a statement today noted the rules governing EU funds.

COMECE’s statement was published following the Europarliament’s approval of a report written by Ulla Margrethe Sandbaek, in which she requests European Community aid for programs of «sexual and reproductive health» in developing countries. The report seeks 73.95 million euros ($79 million) for the period 2003-2006.

«COMECE appreciates the EU’s substantial contribution to development assistance,» the bishops say in their statement. «Development policy should promote an integrated vision of the dignity of the human person, not only an individual’s rights but also his or her responsibility within the family and society.»

«We are concerned that the draft regulation represents a shift away from this integral vision toward a predominant focus on an individual’s ‘sexual and reproductive rights,'» they add.

«Incentives to encourage abortion will not be funded under this regulation,» they continue. «However, the actual provision of abortion services will not be excluded. The draft regulation concerns funding for ‘sexual and reproductive health services’ in developing countries. Although it does not define the scope of these services, they are understood to include abortion.»

The bishops’ commission adds: «We are deeply concerned that funds from the EU budget might be used for abortion services under this regulation. We trust there is reason to believe that there will be no discrimination against development and health organizations which do not provide abortion in funding decisions under this regulation.»

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