Holy See tells UN a 'right to abortion' defies moral, legal standards

Pope Francis with Archbishop Bernardito C Auza of Suacia Perm Observer to the UN in Vatican City on Dec 14 2017 Credit LOsservatore Romano CNA Pope Francis with Archbishop Bernardito Auza, the Holy See's Permanent Observer to the United Nations, at the Vatican Dec. 14, 2017. | L'Osservatore Romano.

The Holy See's representative to the United Nations told the UN Commission on Population and Development that insistence upon a "right to abortion" at their annual spring meeting detracts from the commission's efforts to address the real needs to mothers and children.

After UN representatives from European countries called for "speeding up progress" toward "universal access to sexual and reproductive services, including safe and legal abortion," Archbishop Bernardito Auza, the Holy See's Permanent Observer to the UN, spoke out.

"To formulate and position population issues, however, in terms of individual 'sexual and reproductive rights' is to change the focus from that which should be the proper concern of governments and international agencies," Auza said April 3.

"Suggesting that reproductive health includes a right to abortion explicitly violates the language of the ICPD, defies moral and legal standards within domestic legislations and divides efforts to address the real needs of mothers and children, especially those yet unborn," the archbishop continued.

The Vatican representative also called for action to be taken when migrants are exploited, for "responsible consumption" of the world's resources, and reaffirmation that the family is the fundamental unit of society.

Auza said that many of the questions involving the transmission of life cannot be adequately dealt with unless in relation to the good of the family.

"Governments and society ought to promote social policies that have the family as their principal object, assisting it by providing adequate resources and efficient means of support, both for bringing up children and looking after the elderly, to strengthen relations between generations and avoid distancing the elderly from the family unit," he said.

Planned Parenthood's Director of Advocacy María Antonieta Alcalde also participated in the UN Commission on Population and Developement's 52nd session April 1-5.

"Every year, millions of women and girls are forced to continue their pregnancies due to a lack of access to safe and legal abortion," Alcalde told the UN Commission April 3.

Alcalde called for "comprehensive sexuality education; access to sexual and reproductive health services; access to safe and legal abortion; and civil society participation" to be included in the commission's program of action.

The UN population commission concluded its fifty-second session reaffirming their commitment to the "programme of action" adopted at the International Conference on Population and Development in Cairo 25 years ago.

Saint Pope John Paul II wrote a letter to the Secretary General of the Cairo conference in 1994 stating that he was gravely concerned about the draft final document of the population and development conference. He noted that there was already a "tendency to promote an internationally recognized right to access to abortion on demand, without any restriction, with no regard to the rights of the unborn."

"The vision of sexuality which inspires the document is individualistic," St. John Paul II said.

The pope asked the Secretary General, "What future do we propose to adolescents if we leave them, in their immaturity, to follow their instincts without taking into consideration the interpersonal and moral implications of their sexual behaviour? Do we not have an obligation to open their eyes to the damage and suffering to which morally irresponsible sexual behaviour can lead them? Is it not our task to challenge them with a demanding ethic which fully respects their dignity and which leads them to that self-control which is needed in order to face the many demands of life?"

"Political or ideological considerations cannot be, by themselves, the basis on which essential decisions for the future of our society are founded. What is at stake here is the very future of humanity," St. John Paul II said.

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