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Vatican responds to abortion flap

Published:Saturday | June 17, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Pope Francis delivers his blessing from his studio window overlooking St Peter’s Square at the Vatican last Sunday.

The head of the Vatican's bioethics panel is defending the decision to name as a member an Anglican moral theologian who has said that abortion could be condoned up until the 18th week of gestation.

Monsignor Vincenzo Paglia spoke out yesterday after conservative commentators criticised the inclusion of Oxford University professor Nigel Biggar as a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life.

Biggar, a noted Christian ethicist, was quoted as saying in 2011 that he would draw the line for abortion at 18 weeks since that is "roughly about the earliest time when there is some evidence of brain activity and, therefore, of consciousness." Catholic Church teaching holds that life begins at conception and must be defended until natural death.

In an interview, Paglia reaffirmed the Vatican's unwavering opposition to abortion.