Bishop Jose Ignacio Munilla of San Sebastian in Spain has released a new pastoral letter on abortion that answers questions and encourages open discussion on the issue.

"We cannot accept 4000 abortions each year in the Basque Country," Bishop Munilla said.

In his letter – which he presented to Pope Francis during an ad limina visit to the Vatican – the Spanish bishop responded to specific questions about abortion and invited readers to get past the political debate and pursue instead a free and moral debate, because "the cause of life is pre-political and is above any ideology."

For this reason, Bishop Munilla underscored the scientific certainty that human life begins at conception.

He rejected the argument defending abortion as a woman's right to choose, noting that behind every abortion there is always poverty, loneliness, pressure from family members, or other factors.

"Abortion is not a cause for women because women who are heading for an abortion are often subjected to male chauvinist pressure," he stated, adding that for this reason, women are the second victims of abortion.

Bishop Munilla called on society to become fully engaged in ending the tragedy of abortion and offering help and assistance to women at risk for abortion. The Mirian Center in the Diocese of San Sebastian, which has been reaching out to women in troubled pregnancies over the last year, is an example of such service, he said.

"Let's not allow our biases to keep us from thinking, feeling and confronting the tragedy of abortion head on, and let us have a real debate that is free of these biases," he said.