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Monday, December 21, 1998 Published at 12:56 GMT

World: Europe

German Catholic Church: "Abortion pill is murder"

A senior German Bishop, Karl Lehmann, has strongly attacked plans by the country's Social Democrat-led government to allow the sale of the abortion pill.

Bishop Lehmann, who is the Head of the German Bishops' Conference, said aborting with a pill was an illegal act of killing which violated the constitution and the law.

He said is was unacceptable that abortion was being played down by portraying the drug as a more gentle method.

Bishop Lehmann's attack is part of an intensifying campaign by the Roman Catholic Church against plans to licence the pill for sale next month.

The Archbishop of Cologne , Cardinal Joachim Meissner, has already made an apparent comparison between taking the pill and the use of gas in the Holocaust.

The government says it will not negotiate the issue with the Church.

A BBC Correspondent in Germany says the Catholic Church continues to have a strong following there, and that abortion remains a controversial issue.

From the newsroom of the BBC World Service

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