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Pope Francis greets participants in the "Yes to Life!" conference during an Audience at the Vatican. Pope Francis greets participants in the "Yes to Life!" conference during an Audience at the Vatican.   (Vatican Media)

Pope Francis: prenatal diagnosis no excuse for abortion

Pope Francis addresses participants at a conference in the Vatican entitled “Yes to Life! - Caring for the precious gift of life in its frailness”.

By Vatican News

The conference was organized by the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, and the “Heart in a Drop” Foundation, which works to welcome “children born in conditions of extreme fragility”, who the culture of waste sometimes defines as “incompatible with life”.

Every child is a gift

The Pope received conference participants in audience on Saturday morning and told them “no human being can ever be incompatible with life”. Every child is “a gift that changes the history of a family…and this child needs to be welcomed, loved and cared for”.

Prenatal diagnosis

The Pope went on to speak about modern techniques of prenatal diagnosis that can detect the presence of malformations and diseases from the first weeks of pregnancy. Often the “mere suspicion of disease”, he said, can “change the experience of pregnancy”, and even risk “throwing women and couples” into a state of “deep despair”. Yet, the Pope continued, “the evolution of every disease is always subjective and often not even doctors know how it will manifest itself in the individual”.

Small patients

Pope Francis described children in the womb who have pathological conditions, as “small patients”. Advances in pharmacology and surgery have reduced “the gap between diagnostic and therapeutic possibilities, which for years was one of the causes of voluntary abortion and abandonment of care at the birth of many children with serious diseases”.

The medical mission

The Pope also spoke about the role of doctors. The medical profession, he said, is “a mission”: doctors should be “capable of entering into a relationship”, and of “committing themselves to always finding solutions that respect the dignity of every human life”. This is especially important in the case of children who are likely “to die immediately after childbirth”, said the Pope. Taking care of these children “helps parents to process mourning… That child will remain in their lives forever”.

Abortion never the answer

“Abortion”, said Pope Francis, “is never the answer”. “Human life is sacred and inviolable and the use of prenatal diagnosis for selective purposes must be strongly discouraged, because it is the expression of an inhuman eugenic mentality, which deprives families of the possibility of welcoming, embracing and loving their weakest children”, he said

Pope Francis concluded by thanking those families, mothers and fathers, who have welcomed fragile lives, and are now supporting and helping other families. “Your witness of love”, he said, “is a gift to the world”.

25 May 2019, 12:05