by Steven Ertelt
August 31, 2006
Bogota, Colombia (LifeNews.com) — News outlets in Colombia are coming under fire for falsely reporting that a leading bishop in the Catholic Church indicated anyone involved in a recent abortion of the baby of a raped 11 year-old girl would be excommunicated. Other news agencies such as LifeNews.com relied on those reports for the latest in an ongoing controversy.
The reports were the latest in a fierce battle over abortion in this South American nation and Colombia’s leading newspapers yesterday featured headline articles about the excommunication.
However, the bishop quoted in the articles says the story is false.
Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo says the Catholic Church is not planning to excommunicate the doctors, judges or others involved in facilitating the abortion.
"I have not said that, nor has the Holy See, nor have I thought it," Lopez Trujillo, president of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Family, said in an interview with Caracol Radio.
The comments come after RCN television quoted the bishop saying, "Every Christian Catholic who submits to an abortion, whether it be directly or indirectly, will be excommunicated."
According to an Associated Press report, RCN has not said whether it will retract the story or whether it stands by the content of it with the cardinal’s original quotes.
The abortion was the first in Colombia since the South American country’s top court legalized it in some cases in May.
The nation’s Supreme Court weakened the country’s pro-life law in May — changing it from a complete ban on abortions to allowing them in cases of rape or incest of if the baby has severe physical deformities. The court also allowed abortions in very rare situations when it could be necessary to save the life of the mother.
The abortion case involved an 11 year-old girl who became pregnant after her stepfather raped her.
The girl’s abortion wasn’t automatic but had to go to the courts before it was authorized. The case made headlines in Colombia media for weeks before the abortion was done.
Hundreds of pro-life advocates demonstrated outside the hospital where the abortion happened.
In July, the bishops of Colombia said abortions should not be legal. The president of the Bishops’ Conference of Colombia, Archbishop Luis Augusto Castro Quiroga pointed to statements of Pope Benedict XVI which declared that the value of human life is not negotiable.
He said the Colombia high court’s decision to legalize abortion in some cases did not make it morally allowable.
The 5-3 ruling by the Colombia court in May puts the nation’s abortion law in line with most other South American nations, which prohibit abortion but allow them in the rare cases.
El Salvador and Chile are now the only Latin American nations to completely prohibit abortions.