Catholic bishops have voiced opposition to a resolution expected to be taken up on Wednesday on the Matić Report, which refers to abortion as “essential health service."
The Commission of Bishops of the European Union are warning of a document that could lead to guaranteed legal abortion across the continent if adopted by the EU.
The European Parliament is expected to vote on Wednesday on the so-called Matić Report, which refers to abortion as an “essential health service” and a “human right.”
“Abortion is advocated in the draft resolution as an ‘essential health service’ that should be available to everyone,” the bishops’ statement said. “In our view, this classification is ethically untenable. A medical intervention of such magnitude cannot and must not become a normal practice; its qualification as an essential service degrades the unborn child. As Church, we are convinced that human life from the beginning, including unborn life, possesses its own dignity and independent right to protection.”
Presented by the Croatian member of the European Parliament Predrag Fred Matić March 25, the document is formally known as “The situation of sexual and reproductive health and rights in the EU, in the framework of women’s health.”
Bishops uphold rights of the unborn
On June 17, the Secretariat of the Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union (COMECE) released a Position Paper in which they welcomed the “fundamental concern” to “protect the health and rights of women,” but objected to the representations and arguments made in the draft resolution.
“We see the unborn child as an independent life created in God’s image and owing its existence to His will,” the bishops stated. “The unborn child has a human right to life. In its Brüstle decision, the European Court of Justice was unable to rule out the possibility that the unborn human life is endowed with its own dignity and therefore recognized the embryo as the bearer of this human dignity.”
No rights for conscientious objectors
The draft resolution also negates the fundamental right to conscientious objection, the bishops pointed out. This is contrary to a 2010 ruling of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, which said, “No person, hospital or institution shall be coerced, held liable or discriminated against in any manner because of a refusal to perform, accommodate, assist or submit to an abortion, the performance of a human miscarriage, or euthanasia, or any act which could cause the death of a human fetus or embryo, for any reason.”
Grégor Puppinck, General Director of the European Center for Law and Justice, told the National Catholic Register that if adopted, the Matić Report will serve as a reference for the European Commission’s action in the future, and subsequently at national levels as well.
The Register pointed out that the report also promotes universal access to modern contraceptive methods and assisted reproductive technologies (ART) for all people, single or married, regardless of sexual orientation.
Though abortion is legal in most European Union countries, it is not in Andorra, Malta and San Marino. In Liechtenstein, it is permitted only when the mother’s life or health is at risk or the pregnancy is the result of sexual assault.
Monaco and Poland allow abortion only is a mother’s life or health is at risk, the pregnancy is the result of sexual assault or involves a severe fetal anomaly.