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Bishops propose abortion alternatives

Meeting Sydney yesterday, Australia's Catholic Bishops announced the establishment of a Taskforce to investigate ways of increasing financial and human support for those facing the dilemma of abortion.

A media statement said the Church already provides pregnancy counselling, adoption services and other supports through its network of Centacare and associated agencies.

"But we are ready to do more," it said. "We call on churches, government and charities to join us in ensuring that all pregnant women have real options. We support the establishment of a national forum to consider practical ways of assisting them and of promoting constructive discussion within the community."

The statement stressed that no woman should have to choose between her own well-being and the life of her child.

"The well-being of a pregnant mother and her child cannot be separated. To harm one is always to harm the other; to care for one always requires caring for both. Yet too often women report being pressured by their circumstances into having an abortion: they feel they have no other option."

The Bishops believe that women with unplanned pregnancies need to be offered genuine alternatives to abortion. This includes access to good counselling and support, healthcare, welfare and housing. Educational facilities and work places must be more accommodating of the special needs of pregnant women and families.

They contend that the current public debate over abortion has unearthed "deep unease amongst ordinary Australians", especially about late-term abortions.

"There is an emerging consensus that the annual abortion toll of up to 100,000 is disturbing".

The Bishops welcome continued discussion about ways of reversing the spiral of abortion in our country. The Church stands ready to help in shaping a positive new approach to problem pregnancy.

The statement assures that Catholics "join others in opposing all violence to women and children, before or after birth", given that abortion also impacts on fathers, wider networks of family and friends, health professionals, and society as a whole.

"Every human being deserves our reverence and love, from the beginning to the end of the continuum of life. All human rights ultimately depend upon that recognition. But respect for human dignity also requires practical support for vulnerable people. We need to build a culture that respects the link between life and love, welcomes and esteems children and families, and supports women in every way."

Catholic Bishops propose abortion alternatives (Australian Catholic Bishops Conference 25/11/04)

Interview with Bishop Anthony Fisher (ABC Radio 'AM' 26/11/04 - Transcript and audio available this morning)
Bishops call for abortion forum (Daily Telegraph 26/11/04)
Catholic Bishops back forum on abortion (Seven News/AAP 25/11/04)
Catholic taskforce to act on abortion (Sydney Morning Herald 26/11/04)

Speak out, call to pro-life women (Catholic Voice December 2004)
Peter Sellick: Lot, his daughters and the abortion debate (Online Opinion 25/11/04)
Religious right wins abortion victory (The Age/The Guardian 25/11/04)
The truth about late-term abortion (Green Left Weekly)
Push for schools to give girls the pill (The West Australian 19/11/04)
Pill row raises fears on abortion (The Australian 18/11/04)
Experts urge action on teen abortions (The West Australian 18/11/04)
Abbott rules out public funds to fight abortion (The Age 18/11/04)
Abbott shies from undertaking he won't use position to push abortion views (The Age 18/11/04)
Abortion Pill Deserves Death Knell, Says Bishops' Aide (Zenit 16/11/04)
Bishops' official says abortion pill should be shelved (Catholic News Agency 17/11/04)

26 Nov 2004