In a case that has divided India, Mumbai Bishop Agnelo Gracias has appealed to a fifteen year old pregnant girl not to abort her pregnancy.
Times Now reports that Niketa Mehta has been waging a battle seeking permission to abort her 25 week foetus after the baby was diagnosed with a congenital heart disease.
While the country remains divided over whether it would be right to terminate a foetus at this late stage of pregnancy, the Catholic Church in India and one of its bishops in Mumbai have appealed to the Mehta family against abortion.
According to Bishop Agnelo Gracias, "If the baby is healthy, they may want to keep it. If it is any way deformed and they would like to give it for adoption, surely we would be ready to take it up through Mother Teresa's nuns, through Jeevan Jal, through any such agencies."
"Any attempt against human life has repercussions. It cheapens our attitude to life as a whole. Today we face a culture of death in many ways. I think we have to take steps to counteract that rather than promote it. Any attack on life, especially an unborn life will asurely have harmful consequences , I foresee for society," said Bishop Gracias.
Meanwhile, the Pontifical Academy for Life has intervened in an Italian case calling on caregivers to continue to give food and water to Eluana Englaro, a woman said to be in a vegetative state.
Archbishop Salvatore Fisichella, president of the academy, hailed a July 31 decision by the procurator general's office in Milan to ask Italy's Supreme Court to overturn a lower court decision authorising the withdrawal of nutrition and hydration at the request of the young woman's father.
The procurator general's office said that when Milan's civil Court of Appeals ruled July 9 that the provision of nutrition and hydration could be stopped it did so without obtaining a clear scientific opinion that the young woman's condition could never improve.
In addition to saying it would take the case to the Supreme Court, the procurator general's office asked the Court of Appeals to suspend its ruling so that Englaro's family does not act before the Supreme Court can rule.
Now 37 years old, Englaro was injured in a car accident in 1992. She has been in what doctors describe as a persistent vegetative state for 16 years.
Archbishop Fisichella told Vatican Radio Aug. 1 that the Italian justice system must "put the value of life back in first place. Eluana is a young woman who is alive; she is not attached to any machine and this does not involve pulling any plug."
Carrying out the appeals court decision would involve "simply not giving her anything to eat or drink and this would be a crime, an immense crime," he said.
Bishop: Don't abort your baby Niketa (Times Now, 3/8/08)
Vatican official defends life of Italian woman in vegetative state (Catholic New, 1/8/08)