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Bishops of Brazil seek voice in debate over legalization of abortion

.- The National Conference of Bishops of Brazil has issued a statement asking to be included in the debate over the revision of the country’s abortion laws and reaffirming that the Conference “will continue defending the inalienable right to life of the unborn.” The statement, which was signed by Conference president Cardinal Geraldo Majella Agnelo of Salvador, and Auxiliary Bishop Odilio Scherer of Sao Paulo, secretary general of the Conference, states that the de-criminalization of abortion would lead to “serious problems regarding life and human dignity.”

The bishops note that the rights of women should be respected, defended and promoted, but that “the rights of the unborn child” must be defended and supported with the same conviction.  “We know from qualified scientific testimony that from the moment of conception, the human being possesses his own genetic traits and immune system.  We’re dealing here with another human being, such that mother and embryo constitute distinct human beings.”

In their statement, the bishops point to the country’s Constitution and Civil Code, both of which establish legal protection for the unborn.  While they recognize that the country is dealing with a growing health problem with respect to unwanted pregnancies and clandestine abortions, the bishops emphasize that “nonetheless, one evil cannot be healed with a worse evil.”

“While the Catholic Church recognizes and respects the laicity of the State,” the statement continues, “she wishes to participate in the discussions and decisions.”  The National Conference of Bishops of Brazil had been excluded from a commission studying the issue of abortion because of objections by the National Council for Policies on Women.

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