MaltaToday, 16 April 2008 | Bishops call for prayer to defend unborn at Council of Europe


NEWS | Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Bishops call for prayer to defend unborn at Council of Europe

Matthew Vella

Archbishop Paul Cremona and Bishop of Gozo Mario Grech yesterday expressed their appreciation and support to Malta’s MPs in the Council of Europe for opposing the approval of a motion that recommends CoE member states to decriminalise abortion.
They encouraged the people of Malta and Gozo to “pray to the Lord to continue giving our representatives and the other members of the Assembly, the wisdom and courage to defend human life.”
In a statement, the bishops reiterated their previous call that the first fundamental human right is the right to life.
“We have the duty to defend the life of every human being from the first moment of its existence. Abortion is not a choice but murder; abortion is not a right but a negation of the right to life; abortion is not beneficial, neither for society nor for the mother herself.”
They appealed to the rapporteurs at the CoE to “be objective in what they propose for the consideration of the members; present fact as facts, comments as comments and what is debatable as debatable.”
MPs voting in Monday’s part-session voted against a motion to refer a the report proposing safe access to legal abortion back to the Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men.
Spanish MP Ignacio Cosidó Gutiérrez presented a motion to remove the report ‘Access to safe and legal abortion in Europe’, saying another report from the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights was required and that the report had overstepped the remit of the Parliamentary Assembly by addressing an issue that belonged with member states.
The Swiss socialist MP Andreas Gross objected to the motion: “The speaker who asked for postponement did not understand the report. It does not demand the right of abortion, and one should not shoot mice with an elephant gun. Please oppose this proposition.”
Steingrímur J. Sigfusson, the chairperson of the Committee on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men, urged the assembly to oppose removing the subject from the agenda.
“The committee has considered it for a long time. It was first proposed in January 2006 and has been discussed at length in the committee. I do not see any point in sending it back to the committee when there is nothing left to do but consider it and deal with the amendments here. I therefore suggest that we keep the agenda as it is.”
The motion was defeated by 70 votes against to 48 votes in favour, with 12 abstentions. Nationalist MP Jeffrey Pullicino Orlando was amongst those who voted in favour of the motion to remove the item from the agenda.
The debate will commence today in the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe, in Strasbourg.

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