Catholic Church Asks UN for Medical Conscience Clause on Abortion

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 19, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Catholic Church Asks UN for Medical Conscience Clause on Abortion Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
March 19
, 2007

The Vatican ( — The Catholic Church is asking the United Nations to protect the conscience rights of doctors and other medical personnel who don’t want to participate in abortions. The Pontifical Academy for Life is asking for an amendment to the UN Declaration of Human Rights to include a conscience clause to protect their rights.

The group released a statement on Friday saying the UN should "complete" its protection of all human rights with a statement that would “guarantee the right to be a conscientious objector and to defend this right against discrimination in the field of work, education and government benefits.”

According to a Catholic World News report, the Academy noted that physicians and other medical staff face more pressure to be involved in abortions and euthanasia or assisted suicide in places where those practices are finding more acceptance.

Some medical personnel could also feel compelled to participate in problematic biotech practices like embryonic stem cell research, human cloning or research using tissue from babies who are victims of abortion.

The group asked the UN to allow doctors to be "in faithful obedience to the judgments of the own moral conscience" when it comes to the "many problematic cultural and social [practices] that touch the right to life" and the physician’s own "duty protect the human life."

The group said the conscious rights should apply not only to doctors but to nurses and pharmacists as well who may be forced to be involved in practices they morally or religiously oppose.

The Pontifical Academy for Life also reminded Catholics engaged in medicine that they have a duty to inform patients of all of the risks and "the true mechanisms of action and effects of" a drug, such as the morning after or RU 486 abortion pill.

But, Catholic World News reports that the document drew opposition from a leading Italian government official, Luigi Manconi, an undersecretary in the nation’s justice department. He said "Church should focus on teaching ethics, not politics."