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Open letter to the Pope from NAT and FPA

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Irresponsible and discriminatory statements and teachings on sexuality, sexual health and well-being, are putting men and women’s health and lives in danger.

“Irresponsible and discriminatory statements and teachings on sexuality, sexual health and well-being, are putting men and women’s health and lives in danger,” say two of the UK’s leading charities FPA (Family Planning Association) and NAT (National AIDS Trust)  in an open letter about Pope Benedict XVI views on sexual health on the eve of his first visit to the UK.


The letter, which seeks to illustrate why the Pope’s views are so contrary to the most basic human sexual health rights, has been published and is available to view at www.fpa.org.uk. It is printed below. 


Visit to the UK of the Pope – an open letter from leading UK charities FPA and NAT (National AIDS Trust).


We are using the Pope's visit to the UK to highlight the discriminatory nature of his statements and teachings on sexuality and sexual health and wellbeing.


By teaching that modern contraception is ‘intrinsically evil’, the Catholic Church prevents women, including married women, from making choices about whether or not to have children, and how to plan and space their children. This leads to unwanted pregnancies, resulting in unwanted children, or abortion. Particularly in developing countries it also results in women being unable to limit the number of pregnancies during their lives, often leading to disability or premature death.


The Catholic Church’s position on abortion puts women’s health and lives in danger. Evidence from across the world and throughout history has shown that preventing women from accessing safe and legal abortion does not stop abortions. Instead, women facing unplanned pregnancies take desperate actions, including seeking illegal and dangerous abortions. Approximately 70,000 women a year die as a result of unsafe abortion and hundreds of thousands of others are severely injured and disabled. The Pope’s teachings on abortion serve to perpetuate this situation. The Vatican has used its position in international bodies such as the UN to promote its position on contraception and abortion and to thwart progress recognising women’s sexual and reproductive rights; this impact is felt by women across the world, regardless of their faith.


We are extremely concerned about the Pope’s comments on the use of condoms, and particularly the assertion he made in March 2009 that the use of condoms increased the spread of HIV. When used correctly and consistently male and female condoms offer protection against all STIs, including HIV. HIV remains a life-threatening illness and can be associated with significant stigma and exclusion. The use of condoms is a crucial part of the fight against the spread of HIV and it is, at best, irresponsible to oppose this.


We oppose the discrimination expressed by the Pope about same sex relationships. In 2008, the Pope used his end of year message to senior Vatican staff to argue that the world needed protecting from homosexuality in the same way it needed protecting from climate change. As a religious leader and a head of state the Pope wields significant influence. It is unacceptable for him to use his position to incite and legitimise intolerance, prejudice and discrimination against lesbian, gay and bisexual people across the world.
 

Notes to the editor:

NAT 
NAT (National AIDS Trust) is the UK’s leading charity dedicated to transforming society’s response to HIV. We provide fresh thinking, expert advice and practical resources. We campaign for change.
Shaping attitudes. Challenging injustice. Changing lives.

Contact: 
Juliet Whitley
NAT
020 7814 6767 
press@nat.org.uk

 
FPA

The sexual health charity FPA champions the importance of good sexual health for everyone. We educate, inform, support and campaign for people across the UK. The Family Planning Association is a registered charity, number 250187.

Contact:
Rebecca Findlay                                                         
Press & Campaigns Manager                                               
020 7608 5265                                                     
rebeccaf@fpa.org.uk                                      

Gerry Halliday
Press & Campaigns Officer
020 7608 5264
gerryh@fpa.org.uk