VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- It is a contradiction to claim that
promoting access to safe
abortions is somehow protecting the human rights of women and girls, a Vatican
"In fact, abortion denies the unborn child his or
her most basic right --
to life itself," said Archbishop Ivan Jurkovic, Vatican observer to U.N.
agencies in Geneva.
As Pope Francis has said, "Human life is sacred and
inviolable. Every civil right rests on the recognition of the first and
fundamental right, that of life, which is not subordinate to any condition, be
it quantitative, economic or, least of all, ideological," the archbishop
Archbishop Jurkovic spoke May 25 at the World Health
Assembly, a meeting of the member states of the World Health Organization to
set W.H.O. policies and programs.
He was addressing one of the agenda items of the May
21-26 meeting, specifically on the global strategy for the health of women, children
The Vatican delegation "shares many of the concerns
and observations" in the W.H.O. director-general's report, he said, including:
the importance of universal
health coverage; improving specific data on health; ending violence against
women and children; and revising child health policies and programs so they
cover from infancy to 18 years of age.
However, he said, the Vatican delegation had serious
concerns about the inclusion of an item "on so-called 'safe abortion' in
this report and in the global strategy in general."
"The Holy See does not consider abortion or abortion
services to be a dimension of reproductive health or reproductive health
care," Archbishop Jurkovic said.
The delegation was also "immensely concerned"
about the W.H.O. being part of an open-access "Global Abortion
Policies" database launched by several U.N. departments and programs. The database summarizes
every country's laws and policies concerning abortion with the aim, according
to the W.H.O., "to promote greater transparency of abortion laws and
policies, as well as to improve countries' accountability for the protection of
women and girls' health and human rights."
"The Holy See does not endorse any form of
legislation that gives legal recognition to abortion and, thus, firmly objects
to any and all efforts by the U.N. or its specialized agencies to promote
national legislation that permits the taking of the life of an unborn child,"
the archbishop told the assembly.
"Moreover, the Holy See cannot accept the
contradictory claim that promotion of so-called 'safe abortion' is a means to 'protect'
the human rights of women and girls, when, in fact, abortion denies the unborn
child his or her most basic right -- to life itself," he said.