CATHOLIC OFFICIALS in Austria have denounced the opening of an abortion clinic in a new Viennese shopping mall.
"You can now drink coffee, watch a film, buy clothes and then have an abortion," said Erich Leitenberger, spokesman for the Austrian bishops' conference. "This trivialises decisions about life and death."
Mr Leitenberger said that Cardinal Christoph Schonborn of Vienna has asked the shopping mall's Catholic owner, Richard Luger, to "think again" about the clinic's opening.
Mr Lugar "already leased the premises and says this isn't up to him, but the cardinal knows him well and I think he's open to the arguments", Mr Leitenberger said. "Legally any quick decision could be difficult. But I think this latest controversy has made some people reflect on the reality of abortion hem. '
A 1975 law legalising abortions for women up to 12 weeks pregnant has left an "open wound" between the Church and state in Austria, where Catholics make up about 78 per cent of the population of 8.1 million, Mr Leitenberger said.
Auxiliary Bishop Andreas Laun of Salzburg and the Church's Youth for Life organisation staged a demonstration against the Venus Med clinic when it opened last month. The group also has been gathering signatures demanding the closure of the clinic, which advertises "abortion services" and "sexual therapy".