ROME – With France poised to become the first country to enshrine abortion as a constitutional right, the Vatican’s Academy for Life has said no one is entitled to take a human life, and stressed the need to protect the most vulnerable while bettering social conditions.

In a March 4 statement, published the same day French parliamentarians were set to hold a final vote on the matter, the Pontifical Academy for Life (PAV) reiterated the position taken by the French bishops.

On Feb. 29 the French Bishops’ Conference issued a statement insisting that “abortion, which remains an attack on life from the beginning, cannot be seen exclusively from the perspective of women’s rights.”

“It is regretted that the debate did not mention the measures of support for those who wish to keep their child,” the bishops said.

Their statement came amid debate ahead of a contested joint session of the French Parliament at the Palace of Versailles Monday, where lawmakers were set to vote on making abortion a constitutional right.

Expected to pass by a three-fifths majority, the vote would give women the “guaranteed freedom” to choose an abortion.

The measure has already been passed by the upper and lower houses, but final approval by Parliament at Monday’s joint session is needed to effect constitutional change.

French President Emmanuel Macron, who is Catholic, in the past has pledged to make women’s freedom to choose an abortion “irreversible,” and including the right to abortion in the constitution is seen as not only a follow up on that promise, but also as a way of protecting the law that decriminalized abortion in France in 1975.

The PAV in their statement Monday insisted that “in the era of universal human rights, there cannot be a ‘right’ to taking a human life.”

All governments and religious traditions, they said, must “do their best so that at this stage in history, the protection of life becomes an absolute priority, with concrete steps in favor of peace and social justice and with effective measures for a universal access to resources, education and healthcare.”

“The particular life situations and difficult and dramatic contexts of our time must be faced with the tools of a legal civilization that looks first of all to the protection of the weakest and most vulnerable,” the academy said.

Protection of life, they said, ought to be humanity’s “first objective,” and is something that can only develop in a world voice of conflict and with the fields of science, technology, and industry serving both “the human person and brotherhood.”

Quoting Pope Francis, the academy said that for the Catholic Church, “the defense of life is not an ideology, it is a reality, a human reality that involves all Christians, precisely because they are Christian and because they are human.”

“It is about acting on the cultural and educative level to pass on to future generations the attitude of solidarity, of care, of welcome, knowing well that, the culture of life is not the exclusive heritage of Christians, but it belongs to all those who, working to build fraternal relations, recognize the value of every single person, even the fragile and suffering,” they said.

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