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French bishops lament progress of vote to enshrine abortion

French senators applaud abortion vote


John Burger - published on 03/02/24

Prelates say they will be attentive to freedom of conscience of health care personnel as parliament gets set to change constitution.

The Conference of Bishops of France expressed sadness after members of the French Senate voted overwhelmingly to enshrine abortion rights in the Constitution. The vote on February 28 was 267-50.

For the Constitution to be amended, three-fifths of both houses of Parliament, meeting together in a special session known as a congress, must pass the proposal. That vote will take place on Monday, March 4. 

The Conference of French Bishops in their statement reiterated that abortion remains an attack on life from the very beginning, and cannot be seen from the sole angle of women’s rights. The conference regretted that the proposal does not contain measures to support those who would like to keep their child, particularly at a time when “numerous forms of violence against women and children come to light.”

Freedom of conscience

The Conference said it will be “attentive to respecting the freedom of choice of parents deciding, even in difficult situations, to keep their child, and the freedom of conscience of doctors and all healthcare personnel, whose courage and dedication it salutes.”

The Holy See also weighed in on the issue, asking, “How is it possible to enshrine a norm that allows the death of a person in the fundamental Charter of a State while at the same time protecting the human person?”

The bill was introduced by French President Emmanuel Macron. Earlier this year, Vatican News published an editorial with the headline “France moving towards a Constitution against life.” 

“We live in a technologically advanced, digitally connected society,” the editorial said. “Human development from conception has been no secret for decades. We use words like pre-embryo, embryo, newborn, child, teenager, adult, elderly to indicate stages of development where the number of cells changes, cognitive appearance changes, the need for assistance changes, but it is always a human person.”

The article quoted Pope Francis on his recent visit to Marseille, where he called for policies that promote life, welcoming, and fraternity.

“He reflected on the tragedy of discarding human life, which takes on various forms, from the rejected lives of migrants to those of unborn children or abandoned elderly, asking us not to turn a blind eye, to love, to recognize the other: whether on a boat in the middle of the sea or in the most vulnerable condition in the womb of a mother,” the editorial said.

“Often, we find ourselves trapped in sterile political or ideological oppositions, but the challenge is to enact laws and amend constitutions with proposals for life, not for death,” Vatican News continued. “To help is to love; it is to be free to choose. And this fraternal horizon, which takes care of the other, of the person, builds societies that do not resign themselves but walk towards an authentic culture of welcome, sharing, and peace.”

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