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Cyprus

Church says it will actively oppose abortion bill

The Holy Synod

The Cyprus Church on Sunday said it would actively oppose attempts by the House, to allow abortion under certain conditions.

In a circular written by the Holy Synod, which was read out in churches islandwide on Sunday, the Church said it considers abortion to be murder.

“For the Church no solution can be considered moral and acceptable if it destroys human life at any stage,” the circular read.

The Holy Synod calls on the competent services of the state, which “prepared the bill without the required religious and ethnic sensitivity and without due regard to the traditions of our people”, to assume their responsibilities.

At the same time calls on MPs to avoid passing a law that “trivialises human life”.

The Archbishop, it added, was calling on the people to turn a deaf ear and voiced confidence that the faithful would not use the law even if it was passed.

The Church would not rule out taking legal measures to protect both children and their mothers, the circular said.

A bill aiming to legalise abortions in certain circumstances has been prepared and is to come under discussion at House committee level.

The proposal aims to give women the right to terminate pregnancy at under 12 weeks without having to give explanations, or without having to present a medical condition that would prevent them carrying to term.

According to current legislation, abortions are legal only when a pregnancy was caused by rape – an initial provision that goes back to the aftermath of the 1974 Turkish invasion.

Abortion is also legal if the pregnancy is deemed threatening to the life of the mother or could cause greater “physical or mental damage” to her or her other children had the pregnancy not been terminated.

A woman is also allowed to terminate her pregnancy in the case of “substantial risk that the foetus could suffer from physical or mental anomalies that would constitute it severely handicapped,” current legislation provides.

On the basis of this provision, women are obliged to invoke one of the above reasons to be approved for abortion, something that should be the inalienable right of women to decide, is not taken into account by legislation proponents says.

The proposal also provides that state hospitals should offer abortions since high costs – between €400 and €800 – prompt women to resort to other solutions, like pharmaceutical concoctions that may harm their health.

The current law provides for up to 14 years imprisonment to doctors who perform abortions and seven years for women who terminate outside of the existing legal provisions, though it is an open secret that abortions are carried out despite the law.

According to the new proposal, a pregnancy could be terminated at under 12 weeks if requested.

In cases concerning minors, consent from one parent or legal guardian will be required.

According to Dr Arne Bjornberg, the president of the Health Consumer Powerhouse (HCP), which produces the Euro Health Consumer Index (EHCI) annually, abortion ban in Cyprus “is bad both for human rights and for women’s health”.

In December the European Parliament plenary, called to vote a proposal that recognised the right of every woman to decide freely on abortions, voted for an amendment which provides that abortion regulation is subject to national legislation.

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