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Saturday, July 3, 1999 Published at 09:24 GMT 10:24 UK


Vatican condemns population accord

The world population grows at about 2.5 people per second

The Vatican has sternly criticised the United Nations General Assembly for adopting various measures to limit the rapidly expanding world population.

World Population
It said the measures would promote abortion, and risked undermining the family.

More than 170 nations agreed that there should be easier access to legal abortions, and that adolescents should have the right to confidential advice on contraception.

Environment Correspondent Robert Piggot at the UN: "Strong opposition to contoversial issues"
The Vatican said the accord went way beyond what had been agreed at the population conference in Cairo five years ago and, in effect, encouraged women to have abortions.

The Cairo conference called for legal abortions to be made safe, but stopped short of asking for greater access to abortions.

Giving children too much independence

Roman Catholic and Islamic leaders also reacted with disappointment to the agreement that adolescents should be entitled to advice on contraception without first getting their parents' permission.

[ image: Claire Short: Outspoken]
Claire Short: Outspoken
The Vatican's chief negotiator at the conference, John Klink, said children under 16 were in no position to make such decisions, but that governments would now be obliged to make their views paramount.

He also criticised a speech to the conference by the International Development Secretary, Claire Short, who said she found it hard to forgive countries which denied women contraception and then prevented them from having safe abortions.

Mr Klink says he could only assume Ms Short was badly informed.

Main points

Despite the opposition, the final document signed at the conference:

  • Called for women to have easier access to abortions
  • Agreed that teenagers above the age of 15 should have the right to confidential help with contraception
  • Stressed the need for sex education to include teaching on sexually responsible behaviour, and advice on sexually-transmitted diseases like Aids
  • Called for the elimination of practices that discriminate against women.

Since 1960, the world's population has doubled to six billion, and there are predictions that it could rise to 10 billion by 2050.

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