Pope says conscientious objection by health workers to abortion is non-negotiable


Pope Francis attends the weekly general audience at the Paul VI Audience Hall in the Vatican on October 13, 2021. REUTERS / Guglielmo Mangiapane

VATICAN CITY, Oct. 14 (Reuters) – Health workers have a non-negotiable right to exercise conscientious objection by refusing to participate in an abortion, Pope Francis said Thursday, calling the procedure “murder.”

It was at least the third time in a month that the Pope spoke out strongly against abortion, which has become a major political issue in a number of countries, including the United States.

Last week, a U.S. appeals court temporarily reinstated Texas’ restrictive abortion law, which bans the procedure as early as six weeks pregnant and contracts enforcement of the ban to ordinary citizens. Read more

“Today it has become a bit fashionable to think that maybe it would be good to remove conscientious objection (in the medical field),” he told participants of a conference in Rome of hospital pharmacists.

“This (conscientious objection) should never be negotiated, it is the ultimate responsibility of health professionals,” he said, adding that this particularly applied to abortion.

“Know that on this I am very clear: it is a murder and it is never lawful to be an accomplice”, he declared.

Most countries have laws that allow for some form of conscientious objection on the part of healthcare professionals, but abortion rights activists say not everyone is fulfilling their duty to refer one woman to another doctor.

In some Scandinavian countries, doctors are prohibited from refusing to provide legal medical care.

Francis last month told reporters on the plane back from Slovakia that abortion was “murder” even shortly after conception, but appeared to criticize some American Catholic bishops for dealing with the pro- position. choice of US President Joe Biden in a political rather than a pastoral way. . Read more

The Roman Catholic Church teaches that life begins at the time of conception.

In June, a divided conference of American Catholic bishops voted to draft a communion statement that could scold Catholic politicians, including Biden. They are expected to take up the issue again next month.

Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Steve Orlofsky

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