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Pope Stresses Duty to Promote Truth About Abortion. Affirms Value of Researching Umbilical Cord Blood

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 28, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Abortion is often touted as a solution, but in reality it destroys both women and men, Benedict XVI is affirming.

The Pope underlined the "grave duty" of promoting the reality of abortion Saturday in an address to participants in the 17th general assembly of the Pontifical Academy for Life.

He acknowledged the tragedy of "post-abortion syndrome -- the serious psychological difficulties often felt by women who have taken recourse to voluntary abortion."

This syndrome, the Pontiff said, "reveals the irrepressible voice of the moral conscience," as well as "the grave wound it suffers each time that human action betrays the person's innate vocation to good."

The Holy Father also focused attention on "the conscience, at times blurred, of the fathers of the children, who often abandon the pregnant women."

"In the moral conscience, God speaks to each one and invites him to defend human life at all times," Benedict XVI stated.

Doctor responsibility

He continued: "Doctors, in particular, cannot fail to consider important the grave duty to defend against the deception of the conscience of many women who think they will find in abortion the solution to family, economic, social difficulties or to the problems of health of their children.

"Especially in this last situation, the woman is convinced, often by the doctors themselves, that abortion represents not only a licit moral choice, but that in addition it is a necessary 'therapeutic' act to avoid the suffering of the child and of its family and an 'unjust' burden to society."

The Pope noted that "in a cultural background characterized by the eclipse of the meaning of life, in which the common perception of the moral gravity of abortion and of other forms of attempts against human life has been attenuated," doctors need "a special fortitude to continue affirming that abortion does not resolve anything, but that it kills the child, destroys the woman and blinds the conscience of the child's father, often ruining family life."

"This duty, however, does not only affect the medical profession or health professionals," he added.

The Pontiff asserted, "It is necessary that the whole of society defend the right to life of the conceived and the true good of the woman, who never, under any circumstance, will be fulfilled in the choice of abortion."

He also underlined the need "to provide the necessary help to women who sadly have already taken recourse to abortion, and who now experience all its moral and existential tragedy."

Civil commitment

The Pontiff noted that "the moral conscience of researchers and of the whole of society is profoundly involved also in the second topic of your works: the use of umbilical cord banks for clinical and research purposes."

"Medical-scientific research is a value and, hence, a commitment, not only for researchers but for the whole civil community," he affirmed.

"The result is the duty to promote ethically valid research on the part of institutions, and the value of the solidarity of individuals in the participation of research directed to promote the common good," the Holy Father stated.

He continued: "This value, and the necessity of this solidarity, are very well evidenced in the case of the use of stem cells from the umbilical cord.

"They are important clinical applications and promising research at the scientific level, but for their realization many depend on the generosity, on the donation of blood of the cord at the moment of birth, on the part of the women who have just given birth."

Benedict XVI noted that the "growing number of private storage banks of the blood of the cord for exclusive autologous use" "weakens the genuine spirit of solidarity that must constantly animate the search of that common good to which, in the last analysis, science and medical research tend."

He urged his listeners "to be promoters of a true and conscious human and Christian solidarity."