Pro-abortion Report OK'd by European Parliament

Catholic Bishops Say Assembly Exceeded Its Competence

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BRUSSELS, Belgium, JULY 3, 2002 (Zenit.org).- Catholic bishops criticized the European Parliament's adoption of a report that seeks to impose abortion and promote use of morning-after pills among European Union members and applicant countries.



In a press statement, the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Community (COMECE) charged that the European Parliament had no competence or mandate to approve the report, and that its action will generate mistrust among citizens.

The report on sexual and reproductive health and rights, presented by the Parliament's Committee on Women's Rights and Equal Opportunities, was approved 280-240, and 28 abstentions.

Socialist and Green deputies rose in prolonged applause after the vote was tallied. The European Popular Party voted against the report.

A heated debate on the report lasted late into Tuesday night and continued this morning.

For its part, the European Commission limited itself to a reminder, voiced by David Byrne, commissar responsible for health and consumer protection, that the European Parliament had no competence in this matter.

In their statement, the bishops say that it is regrettable that the report, written by Belgian Socialist Europarliamentarian Anne van Lancker, obscures such grave questions "by a number of polemical assertions based on the questionable conclusions of what the report itself admits is inadequate research."

"We especially regret that the report calls for abortion to be made legal and for the morning-after pill to be made more accessible in all member states and accession countries," the bishops continue.

"The Catholic Church considers the health of all women, men and children, at all stages of their life, to be of the utmost importance. It advocates a holistic approach based on a combination of medical care, education and personal responsibility, and supports this through hospitals, schools, community centers and other projects," the bishops' statement explains.

The episcopal statement emphasizes that "the Catholic Church teaches that human life begins from the moment of conception: Abortion is wrong because it denies the right of the unborn human being to life."

"This dos not detract from the Church's support for the fundamental human right of women to live in dignity and security," the statement clarifies.

According to the bishops, the report runs the risk of transmitting two messages to citizens.

"Either it will give the impression that the Parliament wishes to impose on member states and accession countries policies on which they have the exclusive, democratic right to decide" -- the statement warns, or -- "it will promote the suspicion that the Parliament has no more urgent business than to produce reports on issues for which it has no competence."

Lastly, the European bishops stress that "abusive and offensive language and behavior, which has been targeted at both sides of this debate, only serves to undermine the cause of those who use it. In particular, we believe that those who claim to be fighting for the right to life should treat their fellow human beings with respect."