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French Medical Council Denounces Pope’s ‘Harsh Words’ on Abortion

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The French Medical Council denounced Pope Francis Wednesday for having compared abortionists to paid “hit men” hired to bump off children.

In a letter to the papal nuncio to France, Archbishop Luigi Ventura, the president of the French Medical Council, Dr. Patrick Bouet, said that the pope had “uttered very harsh words about abortion, which greatly disturbed the French medical community that I have the honor and the responsibility to represent.”

Pope Francis repeatedly spoke off the cuff during his General Audience in Saint Peter’s Square Wednesday, adding colorful language to condemn abortion in the strongest of terms.

Often the killing of human life in the womb is defended “in the name of safeguarding other rights,” the pope told crowds gathered in the square. “But how can an act that suppresses innocent and helpless life in its beginnings be therapeutic, civil, or even human?”

“I ask you,” the pope continued, “is it right to ‘bump off’ a human life to solve a problem? Is it right to hire a hitman to solve a problem? You cannot, it is not right to ‘bump off’ a human being, no matter how small, to solve a problem.”

“Interrupting a pregnancy,” the pope ad-libbed, “is another way of saying, to bump someone off.”

On behalf of France’s medical community, Dr. Bouet said the pope’s words had offended all physicians:

How can one fail to react to expressions of such violence, when health professionals have made it their vocation to listen to, assist and support their fellow citizens so as to accompany them in often difficult moments of their lives and to ensure them access to abortion under the best possible conditions if they so wish?

“If I understand that his Holiness, in the name of his faith, wishes to defend important principles for the Church he leads,” Bouet said, the French Medical Council “cannot accept that an anathema be cast in this way on the entire medical profession, which is thereby stigmatized.”

The Council “cannot tolerate that the physical, psychological, and moral suffering experienced by women in distress, sometimes in great suffering when they resort to abortion, be denied,” Dr. Bouet said.

“I can perceive today, Monsignor, the commotion and incomprehension felt by the doctors and the women thus designated and I wish to make them known to you on their behalf,” he added.

Last month, the French Medical Council, established by government edict in 1945, likewise criticized the president of the National Union of Ob-Gyns, Dr. Bertrand de Rochambeau, for publicly stating his opposition to abortion and comparing it to homicide.

“This personal opinion cannot erase the fact that Dr. de Rochambeau is also president of the National Union of Gynecologists-Obstetricians, which raises the problem of the scope of his remarks in a prime-time program,” the Council stated in a press release.

“In this regard the French Medical Council recalls that any woman, whether minor or adult, not wishing to continue a pregnancy can ask a doctor to terminate it in accordance with the law,” the statement read.

While the physician has the right to invoke his personal conscience clause, he must in this case transmit without delay all the information useful for the continuation of care to another doctor designated by the patient, it said.

“The conscience clause cannot therefore be a means of evading the law and the provisions of medical ethics which are perfectly clear,” it said.

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