EU treaty changes which would uphold a right to life from conception and make both abortion and euthanasia illegal have been proposed by Europe's Catholic bishops to a convention responsible for drafting an EU charter of fundamental rights. Human cloning would also be banned.
   The submission, a series of draft charter clauses ranging from the "right to life" to social rights such as the "right to social protection", has been made to the convention by the Commission of Bishops of the European Community (Comece), the Church's principal EU listening post in Brussels.
   The Comece provisions on the right to life are certain to face strong opposition in the convention as all EU member states have legal provision for abortion and two, Holland and Belgium, are currently introducing legislation to legalise euthanasia.
   But they may also increase pressure on the precarious Dáil position of the Government from anti-abortion Independents. They are likely to demand Irish support for the clauses which, unlike the Irish constitutional provision, make no explicit reference to balancing the rights of the mother with those of the foetus, and hence go closer to meeting demands for an absolute prohibition on abortion.
   The 62-strong convention was set up by EU leaders at Cologne last June in order to give impetus to the idea of a "citizen's Europe" instead of one where the market alone rules. It is made up of representatives of member states, national parliaments and MEPs and is to produce a charter of rights of citizens by December.
Irish Times 8/3/00

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