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Associated Press/Photo by Domenico Stinellis, File
Pope Francis

Vital Signs: UN demands Catholic Church drop opposition to abortion

Abortion

UN vs. Holy See. A United Nations committee recommended on Jan. 31 that the Catholic Church change its official stance on abortion. 

The Convention on the Rights of the Child committee urged the Holy See to amend its canonized prohibition of abortion to allow the procedure in some circumstances. The UN said the Church’s current abortion position “places obvious risks on the life and health of pregnant girls.”  

The committee made the recommendation in its concluding observations on a periodic report submitted by the Vatican. Human Life International called the comments “a flagrant and egregious attack on the religious freedom of the Catholic Church.”

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The committee also recommended that the Church increase adolescent access to information on contraceptives and that Catholic schools include sex education in their curriculum. The committee also claimed that statements from the Holy See have encouraged “social stigmatization of and violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender adolescents and children raised by same sex couples.” The committee urged the Church to support international efforts to decriminalize homosexuality. 

Archbishop Silvano Tomasi said the Vatican, as a member of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, will respond to the committee’s remarks, but will define and protect “first of all those fundamental values that give real and effective protection to the child.”

3 states, 3 pro-life bills. Three states considered pro-life legislation last week. 

In Mississippi, a House judiciary committee passed a bill that bans abortions after 20 weeks gestation, with exceptions for fetal abnormalities and risks to the health of the mother. The full House will consider the measure before the end of this week.

Indiana’s Senate approved a bill that would require abortion providers to establish a 24-hour phone line for patients to call in case of questions or complications and to provide contact information for the hospital that provides the abortionist’s admitting privileges. The proposal also requires abortion providers to have admitting privileges in writing or partner with a doctor who has them. 

An Iowa legislative subcommittee approved a bill that would prohibit the use of webcams or teleconferencing to give abortion-inducing drugs to patients in remote locations.

Under the new law, abortionists would have to be face-to-face with patients getting a chemical abortion. Abortionists who don’t comply with the law could have their licenses revoked. 

Bill sponsor Rep. Matt Windschitl, a Republican, said that if women don’t have immediate access to abortion-inducing drugs, more might consider carrying a pregnancy to term.

Abortion insurance? The Washington state House passed a bill Feb. 5 that would require insurers offering maternity care to cover elective abortions as well.

The Reproductive Parity Act (RPA) requires insurers provide abortion coverage “substantially equivalent” to coverage for maternity care. Washington’s law, if passed, would be the first in the nation to require abortion coverage.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Eileen Cody, a Democrat, introduced the bill last year. It passed in the House but died in the Senate when Health Care Committee Chair Randi Becker, a Republican, declined to bring the bill up for vote. “While a majority of the Senate also supports it, I can only expect that the RPA will suffer the same fate as it did last year,” Cody said in a statement.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Courtney Crandell
Courtney Crandell

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