Parents gaze upon their newborn child Parents gaze upon their newborn child 

Chilean Bishops decry new abortion bill

A newly approved abortion law has been strongly criticized by the Chilean Bishops Conference (CECH) in a statement recalling that "the first human right is the right to life" and pointing out that abortion is not a solution to problems.

By Lisa Zengarini

The Catholic Bishops of Chile are “deeply disappointed” by the approval of new legislation decriminalizing abortion within 14 weeks of pregnancy in the country.

The Lower House of Parliament passed the Bill on Tuesday by a margin of 75 votes to 68, with two abstentions. The text will now be examined by the Commission on women and gender equality and will be subsequently debated at the Senate.

Until now, abortion was allowed during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy only when the mother's life is at risk and when the foetus will not survive the pregnancy.

Value of life an essential foundation of life in society

The Standing Committee of the Bishops' Conference of Chile (CEC) issued a statement on Wednesday which reaffirms that "the value of life and the dignity of the human person are an essential and inalienable foundation of life in society."

It points out, citing with Pope Francis’ words, that “defending the unborn life is closely linked to upholding each and every other human right.”

Unconditional respect for human life 'a moral duty'

Bishops remind that "the first human right is the right to life, which must be respected from conception to natural death."

For this reason, they say, “not to kill directly and deliberately an innocent person is an absolute moral duty the recognition and protection of which is essential for the life of a community.”

They further note that “biological science confirms that a new human life begins from the moment of conception”: although this human being depends on the mother, he “is not part of her body” and must therefore be “respected as an individual life,the bishops say.

They insist that “unconditional respect for human life should always guide any ethical, legislative, human and health consideration when facing the reality of unwanted pregnancies.“

Problems cannot be solved by killing a human life 

Indeed, bishops acknowledge that there can be “complex and sometimes dramatic human situations arising from pregnancy.”

However, “no such problems are solved with the deliberate elimination of a defenceless and innocent human being."  The statement adds that “a society is measured in its capacity to take care of the weakest” and not in trying" solve problems through violence.”

A child is not a thing or an enemy

Chilean bishops are also concerned by the future implications of the new legislation.

Although pro-abortion laws often start out as an exception, experience shows they end up affirming a so called “right to abortion” and the primacy of “the sexual and reproductive rights of women, ignoring the existence and rights of other human beings.”

This encourages a mentality by which a child is “a thing or an enemy” and “not a human being, a wonderful gift from God."

In light of all these considerations, the Chilean bishops reiterate with Pope Francis that if the dignity of the human person is not ensured and, the contrary, “we consider some people less valuable or disposable, there is no future either for fraternity or for the survival of humanity."

Call for action

The statement therefore calls on Catholics “to act in the public arena” affirming the convictions of their faith and the constant teaching of the Church on the "immorality of abortion", which is the "the deliberate elimination of an innocent human being."

The bishops conclude by raising their fervent prayers that "the consciences and hearts of decision-makers may be enlightened so that, in pursuing the common good, they are able to defend the most vulnerable."

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30 September 2021, 14:39