Resolution against Polish abortion law challenged

European Catholic bishops’ protest includes concern about freedom of conscience

Sean Murphy*

The Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union (COMECE) representing European conference of Catholic bishops across Europe has criticized a European Parliament resolution against Poland’s abortion law passed in November, 2020.  The COMECE letter, addressed to the President of the European Parliament, included an expression of concern about the resolution’s reference to conscientious objection.

COMECE is also alarmed about the fact that the Resolution seems to question the fundamental right to conscientious objection, which is an emanation of freedom of conscience (Article 10.1 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union). This is particularly worrying considering that in the healthcare sector conscientious objectors are in many cases subject to discrimination. In our view, such unjust stigmatization should not be promoted.

It is necessary to consider fundamental rights -like freedom of thought, conscience and religion-in the light of their universality, inviolability, inalienability, indivisibility and interdependence. In regard to the right to conscientious objection, the European Union Charter entails the need to respect national constitutional traditions and the development of national legislation on the issue.

The letter was signed by Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich of Luxembourg; Bishop Mariano Crociata of Latina, Italy; Bishop Franz Josef Overbeck of Essen, Germany; Bishop Noel Treanor of Down and Connor, Northern Ireland; and Bishop Jan Vokal of Hradec Králové, Czech Republic.

Council of Europe raps Italy over difficulty in obtaining abortions


Isla Binnie, Steve Scherer

ROME (Reuters) – Women’s rights are being violated in Italy by the serious difficulties they face in trying to obtain safe abortions due to many doctors refusing to carry out the procedure, the Council of Europe said on Monday.

Terminating pregnancies has been legal in Italy since 1978, but the council’s social rights committee found that the situation in Italy violated both the women’s right to protection of health and the doctors’ right to dignity at work.

In a significant number of Italian hospitals, even if a gynecology unit exists, there are no or very few doctors who do not object to performing abortions, the committee said. . . [Full text]