The Holy See spoke out against language in the declaration by the UN universal health coverage meeting that promoted abortion access.

On Monday, the Holy See participated in the 2019 High-Level Meeting on “Universal Health Coverage: moving together to build a healthier world” at the 74th General Assembly of the United Nations in New York.

The meeting adopted a declaration as part of the UN Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 that could be interpreted as promoting abortion access for member countries. The declaration included “sexual and reproductive health-care services” along with “sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights” as a right of universal health coverage.

In a statement following the meeting, Secretary of State for the Holy See Cardinal Pietro Parolin called the wording “most unfortunate” and “deeply concerning and divisive.” Parolin reiterated the Holy See’s interpretation of “reproductive health” as a holistic concept, while rejecting the interpretation of abortion and related services.

“The Holy See rejects the interpretation that considers abortion or access to abortion, sex-selective abortion, abortion of fetuses diagnosed with health challenges, maternal surrogacy, and sterilization as dimensions of these terms, or of universal health coverage.”

Parolin said the “the Holy See has never failed to support and to contribute towards achieving universal health coverage,” but that must come with “respect for every human life during all stages of development.”

“The right to health is thus inextricably linked with the right to life and it can never be manipulated as an excuse to end or dispose of a human life in whichever point in the entire continuum of his or her existence, from conception until natural death.”

You can read the full statement by Cardinal Parolin here.

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