By Philip Pullella
VATICAN CITY, Oct 14 (Reuters) – Healthcare workers have the non-negotiable right to exercise conscientious objection by refusing to participate in an abortion, Pope Francis said on Thursday, calling the procedure “murder.”
It was at least the third time in a month that the pontiff has spoken out strongly against abortion, which has become a major political issue in several countries, including the United States.
Last week, a US appeals court temporarily reinstated Texas’ restrictive abortion law, which bans the procedure as early as six weeks into the pregnancy and outsources the ban to ordinary citizens.
“Today it has become a bit fashionable to think that perhaps it would be good to end conscientious objection (in the medical field),” Francis told participants at a conference in Rome of hospital pharmacists.
“This (conscientious objection) should never be negotiated, it is the ultimate responsibility of health professionals,” he stressed, adding that it is particularly applicable to abortion. “Know that I am very clear: it is murder and it is never lawful to be an accomplice.”
Most countries have laws that provide some form of conscientious objection to health professionals, but abortion rights activists say that not all are fulfilling their duty to refer a woman to another doctor.
In some Scandinavian countries, doctors are prohibited from refusing to provide any medical care that is legal.
Last month, Francis told reporters on the plane with which he was returning from Slovakia that abortion is “murder,” even shortly after conception, but appeared to criticize some American Catholic bishops for dealing with the president’s pro-election position. Joe Biden in a political rather than pastoral way.
(Edited in Spanish by Carlos Serrano)