Vatican Warns International Summit About Abortion (February 1999)

THE HAGUE, Netherlands -- A U.N. population conference must not create an implied right to abortion, the Vatican warned Wednesday.

"There can be no surreptitious recognition of a right to abortion through policies aimed at creating new categories of personal rights or including health services which supposedly protect women's lives by making possible `safe abortion,' " Holy See delegate Monsignor Frank Dewane told The Hague Forum.

Delegations from 180 countries are meeting to assess progress in implementing a pro-abortion program to slow world population growth that was drawn up at a 1994 conference in Cairo, Egypt.

Although the Vatican fought hard in Cairo to defend its traditional opposition to abortion, it had been conspicuously quiet until now at the Hague meeting, which began Monday.

Dewane criticized the use of the dangerous RU-486 drug as an abortive practice "camouflaged as a means of contraception."

Dewane's comments on abortion were in stark contrast to repeated calls by pro-abortion delegates this week to make abortions available to women around the world. In a speech Tuesday, Hillary Clinton said all women should have access to abortion.

The key paragraph on abortion in the Cairo program of action calls on governments to deal with "unsafe abortion as a major public health concern." The Vatican said at the time that such phrasing could legitimize abortion and neglects the "safety" of the unborn child. Pro-life leaders have further demonstrated that abortion is not safe for the mother either.

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