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Sept. 27, 1999, Vatican City

According to some press sources, the Director of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Dr. Nafis Sadik, expressed the opinion, during the presentation of the 1999 World Population Report in London, on Sept. 22, that the Holy See was no longer opposed to the "family planning" techniques and politics propagated by this U.N. agency.

Regarding this, I would like to confirm that the Holy See has not, in fact, changed its well-known position and, at the same time, recall several principles which have always been upheld by the Holy See's Delegations at several international Conferences and meetings:

Procreation has never been defended at all costs. Respect for the sacred meaning of the transmission of human life has moved the Holy See to point out, above all, the responsibility that should characterize parents' decision to have or not to have a child, in any given moment.

This responsibility implies not only their own personal fulfillment, but also their responsibility before God, before the new life that comes into the world, existing children and society, according to a just hierarchy of moral values.

Regarding the words "contraception", "family planning", "reproductive rights", "female controlled methods", "the widest possible range of family planning services", "new options", "underutilized methods" and any other expression referring to family planning services and fertility control, the Holy See's satisfaction over the consensus achieved in international documents that affect the regulation of fertility must not be interpreted as a change in its well-known position regarding the family planning services that do not respect the spouses' liberty, human dignity or the rights of those affected.

Regarding abortion and access to abortion, the Holy See affirms that human life begins at the moment of conception and that this should be defended and protected. The Holy See can never excuse abortion and policies that favor abortion, which it considers a crime. The Holy See affirms that the right of conscientious objection on behalf of health care providers in these matters is guaranteed, among others, by Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

During recent meetings of the Commission for the Status of Women on occasion and preparation of the Special Session of the U.N. General Assembly five years after the Cairo Conference, the Holy See opposed the introduction of promoting the so-called "emergency contraception" because it considers this practice as abortive.

Sexuality is recognized as an important aspect of personal identity. It is not difficult to understand that sexuality finds its own profound expression in a context of reciprocity. Nevertheless, some programs promoted by the United Nations are inspired by an understanding of sexuality that does not give the necessary consideration to the dimension of reciprocity which is the expression of mutual love and of a decision made in the context of a stable conjugal relationship, while conveying, on the contrary, an individualistic and permissive attitude toward sexual behavior that corrodes a proper understanding of human dignity and the moral responsibility of every person. A permissive attitude regarding sexuality ruins the family, weakens the responsibility of parents, goes against the well-being of the children and has a highly unstabilizing effect on society in general.

The Catholic Church is concerned for the life and health of every human being, convinced of the sacredness of human life endowed with innate dignities and rights. Therefore, she joins forces with all those who battle against the true causes of death, such as poverty and ignorance.

The Church contributes, within the limits of its own nature and possibilities, to education and health services worldwide, particularly where, without her presence, there would be no services available to the people. Today, the Church provides education to 21.3 million women and young girls in elementary, secondary and high schools. The Church also sustains 54,742 "day-care centers." In the area of health care, the Church operates or supports 100,231 institutions, including hospitals, "crisis pregnancy centers", centers for abused women, leprosariums, clinics for the elderly and centers for the handicapped.

Teachings of the Magisterium on Abortion

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