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Pope Says Catholic Doctors Must Shun Abortion, Euthanasia

Vatican City—Pope John Paul urged Roman Catholic doctors on Friday (July 7) to refuse to perform abortions or be party to euthanasia because the church considered both practices "crimes" that no civil legislation could justify.

In an address to doctors visiting Rome for Holy Year celebrations, the Pope told them they had an unshakable mission to defend life from its natural start to its natural end.

He said society today was dominated by an "abortionist culture" in which the life of the unborn was violated and by "a concept of human autonomy" in which euthanasia could be used to free suffering people from pain.

"You know that for Catholics it is never licit to become an accomplice to a presumed right to abortion or euthanasia," he told them.

"Because they are intrinsically immoral, laws that favor such crimes cannot be seen as moral imperatives for doctors, who will use the right to make recourse to conscientious objection," he said.

The Roman Catholic Church teaches that life begins at the moment of conception and ends at the moment of natural death. The Church defends the rights of Roman Catholic doctors, even those working in public institutions, to claim conscientious objection to abortion or euthanasia and not be party to them. 

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