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European Union flags flutter outside the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels European Union flags flutter outside the EU Commission headquarters in Brussels  (REUTERS)

EU Bishops express concern for “anthropological drift” on abortion

COMECE members express concern for the European Parliament's approval of the Matić Report on reproductive and sexual health and rights. The Secretary General of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conference of the EU, Fr Barrios Prieto speaks to Vatican News about his worries.

By Michele Raviart- Vatican City

Reflecting on the contradiction posed by the fact that Europe, that has Christian roots, that purports to always uphold the dignity of the human person, that is founded on “the defense of life and of all human beings” appears to conceive abortion as a “human right and an essential medical service,” the COMECE Secretary General explains that the bishops had engaged in a strong campaign calling the MEPs to understand their responsibilities and the seriousness of the issue.

Speaking about the Matić Report that has just approved by the European Parliament, Fr Manuel Barrios Prieto says "This is a big mistake".

"We have tried to call on MEPs to take responsibility for this vote and to understand the importance of this issue", Barrios explains, adding that the resolution “does not only concern sexual and reproductive health".

"The right to health," he reiterates, "is a fundamental right and we all want it to be respected and protected, especially in this pandemic, and in the context of defending the dignity of women. It is therefore clear that the Church wants the right to health to be promoted, but the problem is to include in this sphere the right to abortion, which is considered in the document as a fundamental right. I think this is a big mistake and the fact that Parliamentarians voted in favour of this text is worrying".

There is no right to abortion

The European bishops stressed that "there is no international treaty" that provides for a "human right to abortion".  In the text of the resolution, Barrios stresses, "It is said that this right to health, which also includes the right to abortion, should be guaranteed, especially in rural regions, in places where there is no strong access to medical services, even above the right to conscientious objection".

Freedom of conscience must always be respected

In the European Parliament resolution, in fact, MEPs "regret that common practice in some Member States allows medical staff and sometimes entire medical institutions to provide health services on the basis of so-called conscientious objection", which would put "the lives and rights of women at risk".

"This is not acceptable," Barrios further stresses: "Conscientious objection for us includes not only the right of the individual health worker, but also the right of an institution that has its own mission, its own vocation and cannot bind itself to something that it sees as contrary to its fundamental principles. The right to conscientious objection derives from the fundamental right to religious freedom and freedom of thought and must always be respected.”

A concerning change of mentality

"The vote on the Matić Repor was very controversial, the gap between the ‘yes’ and the ‘no’ votes was not very wide", Barrios continues, "but this drift is worrying.”

“It highlights an anthropological crisis, and calls into question a way of understanding the human being. Even though this is a non-binding document, this vote by the European Parliament is worrying, because it points to an underlying change of mentality," he concludes, saying that the bishops are underscoring that the “the great absentee in this resolution is the unborn child,” deprived of his or her fundamental right to live, like every human being.

26 June 2021, 12:33