Polish Catholic archbishop urges European Parliament to reject abortion report

CNA 5fb3095b7a7a2 197967 Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki, president of the Polish bishops’ conference, pictured in Warsaw Feb. 12, 2020./ episkopat.pl.

A Polish Catholic archbishop urged members of the European Parliament on Tuesday to reject a report describing abortion as “essential healthcare” and redefining conscientious objection as a “denial of medical care.”

Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki, the president of the Polish bishops’ conference, made the appeal on June 22 as the European Union’s law-making body prepared to vote on the report calling on all EU member states to allow access to abortion.

“Abortion is always a violation of the fundamental human right to life, a violation even more abhorrent because it concerns the life of the weakest and completely defenseless human being. It is, therefore, a manifestation of the most unjust discrimination,” the archbishop of Poznań said.

The European Parliament is due to debate the “Report on the situation of sexual and reproductive health and rights in the EU, in the frame of women’s health” -- known as the Matić Report -- on Wednesday and vote on it on Thursday.

Gądecki underlined that Catholic members of the European Parliament should “unequivocally” reject the report and not compromise on the right to life.

He said that “in a situation where the documents to be voted on target fundamental human rights and values that are non-negotiable, they cannot accept any compromise, but should unequivocally combat such initiatives.”

The archbishop said that the report -- presented to the European Parliament by Croatian politician Predrag Fred Matić -- amounted to a breach of EU law, as abortion laws fall within the competence of the EU’s 27 member states, rather than of EU institutions.

He also said that the text contained “false information” about Poland’s pro-life laws.

He pointed out that, while the report asserts a “right to abortion,” no international human rights document recognizes the existence of such a right. On the contrary, he said, “these documents guarantee the right to life, without mentioning the right to kill.”

“Abortion is always a violation of the fundamental human right to life, a violation even more abhorrent because it concerns the life of the weakest and completely defenseless human being,” he said.

“It is, therefore, a manifestation of the most unjust discrimination. The legal authorization of abortion profoundly distorts social life, let alone its recognition as an ‘essential health service.’”

Ahead of the debate, the European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual and Reproductive Rights (EPF) issued a report claiming that wealthy “religious extremists” were seeking “to roll back human rights in sexuality and reproduction.”

The European Center for Law and Justice (ECLJ) said that “the timing of this report is significant as it has been released in view of the upcoming vote at the European Parliament dedicated to sexual and reproductive rights.”

A commission of European bishops said last week that it was “very concerned” about the Matić Report.

The Secretariat of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union (COMECE) said that it was “ethically untenable” to classify abortion as an “essential” health service.

“A medical intervention of such magnitude cannot and must not become a normal practice; its qualification as an essential service degrades the unborn child,” it said.

In his statement, Gądecki expressed alarm at the Matić Report’s attempt to redefine conscientious objection to abortion.

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“The European Union in the Charter of Fundamental Rights explicitly mentions the right to conscientious objection, which is a special characteristic of this organization,” said the archbishop, who is vice-president of the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences (CCEE).

“The right to conscientious objection, including for medical workers, is explicitly guaranteed in the constitutions of many member states. The adoption of the resolution could, therefore, also be seen as an attack on the constitutions of many member states.”

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