Promotion of Abortion concealed by Reproductive Health Rights Talk in Council of Europe

Says Vice-President of Pontifical Academy for Life

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 24, 2004 ( The promotion of the right of sexual and reproductive health in the Council of Europe conceals intentions “opposed to the recognition of the right to life,” encouraging the use of contraceptives and the practice of abortion.

The Council’s position was criticized by Bishop Elio Sgreccia, vice-president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, in an article published in the Vatican’s semi-official newspaper L’Osservatore Romano Oct. 14, 2004 entitled “Worrying Vote in the General Assembly of the Council of Europe.”

In the text the prelate analyzed the documents voted on in the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe on Oct. 5: resolution 1399 and recommendation 1675.

The documents on the “European Strategy for the Promotion of Health and Sexual and Reproductive Rights” are signs of a mentality and program that — beginning with the U.N. conferences of Cairo and Beijing, and especially the Program of Action articulated in Beijing — insist increasingly on “liberalization,” Bishop Sgreccia noted.

According to the voting results, “out of a total of 313 members of the parliamentary assembly, 62 parliamentarians were present for the final vote, who expressed themselves thus: 45 in favor of the resolution, 12 opposed, and 5 abstaining,” the bishop revealed.

For “the recommendation, with 61 members present, there were 48 in favor, 11 opposed, and 2 abstaining.” According to the rules of the assembly, the vote was declared valid despite the large number of absentees, the prelate explained.

The two documents merit in-depth criticism because they “impose a cultural and legislative line that are contrary to the real meaning of human rights and even to the recognition of the right to life,” Bishop Sgreccia pointed out.

In the two first articles of the resolution, it is affirmed that the right to the protection of health, mentioned in the European Charter, also implies the right to sexual and reproductive health.

Article 2 states that “the right to sexual and reproductive health implies the faculty to establish a complete, satisfactory, and safe relationship, free of coercion and violence, without the fear of sexually-transmitted sicknesses, including AIDS or unwanted pregnancies. Individuals and couples should be able to regulate their fertility without negative or dangerous consequences,” the prelate explained.

In this description, except for the reference to the prevention of sexually-transmitted sicknesses, no mention is made of those elements and aspects attributable to reproductive health which serve to avoid mistaken habits of life for the safeguarding of fertility, “while specific demands are made that have nothing to do with health, implying, among other things, abortion,” Bishop Sgreccia added.

In the “attempt to liberate sexuality from all anxiety and fear,” what is proposed is a terminology already presented in the 1994 Cairo conference.

By the expression “regulate fertility,” which “includes, in addition to contraception, abortion (regulation before and after sexual relations),” to exclude the “negative or dangerous consequences” of the sexual act, is understood recourse to so-called “safe abortion,” “which would be legalized abortion requested as a remedy to secret abortion, which might be dangerous,” the prelate explained.

Bishop Sgreccia noted that these proposals have nothing to do with health, “but rather to exalt hedonism, which often is the cause of risky behavior and, worse yet, insinuate the right to abortion” as an “internal exigency to the right to the protection of health recognized by the European Charter of Social Rights.”

Number 11 of the recommendation exhorts, instead, “to create a global European strategy for the promotion of health and of rights relating to sexuality and procreation.”

“If such an exhortation had clearly the intention to respond to real urgencies and desirable objectives regarding health in general, referring to the prevention of the causes of infertility, to the prevention of infections, to the care of the health of the mother and of the conceived child, as some states have done and do, we would have nothing to say,” he commented.

“However, to mix some of these requests with things in which ambiguity and moral negativity are not lacking, as the diffusion of all types of contraception (including those of interception and counter-gestation) and abortion itself, to promote all levels of human rights, is a maneuver that must be explicitly denounced,” the bishop added.

Van Den Broek, representative of the European Commission in the United Nations, announced on Oct. 14 that this year the European Union will make a donation of $75 million to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), which will be allocated to developing countries.

“The UNFPA — one reads in this organization’s site — has estimated that the sum will be necessary to meet the requests for supplies for 2005, of 49 developing countries that depend on external aid for contraceptives and condoms against HIV,” said the bishop.

Bishop Sgreccia noted that debates such as the one that took place in the Council of Europe serve to avoid speaking about the “right to life,” making the terms “maternity, paternity, family and marriage disappear,” as well as the reference “to the responsibilities of behavior in the area of sexuality.”

Calling for the clearing up of the realm of debate on human rights “from the contamination of subjectivism, eugenics, and contractualism,” the prelate stressed the urgent need for Catholics, as well as those concerned about the primacy of the fundamental rights of the person, to express their position. Today’s delays “might be paid tomorrow at a high price,” Bishop Sgreccia concluded.

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