United States
President Joe Biden will meet Pope Francis on October 29 ahead of the two-day
G20 summit in Rome where he will push to reach a consensus on a 15% global
minimum tax rate, the White House announced on Thursday. This will be Biden’s
second foreign trip as president. Following the G-20 summit, Biden will attend
the United Nations climate conference — COP26 — in Glasgow, Scotland on November
1 and 2.

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On the same day
the White House announced President Biden’s meeting with the pope, Pope Francis
said that health workers have a “non-negotiable right to exercise conscientious
objection by refusing to participate in an abortion”.

The pope further
termed the abortion procedure “murder”.

“Today it has
become a bit fashionable to think that maybe it would be good to do away with conscientious
objection (in the medical field). It (conscientious objection should never be
negotiated, it is the ultimate responsibility of health professionals,” Pope
Francis said to participants of a conference of hospital pharmacists in Rome
adding that conscientious objection is particularly applicable to abortion.

This is the third
time in a month that the pope has spoken out strongly against abortion, a major
political flashpoint in many nations including the US. The pope’s comments come
after a US appeals court reinstated a restrictive abortion law in Texas.

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The law bars
abortion from six weeks for pregnancy and outsources enforcement of the ban to
citizens instead of it being the exclusive domain of law enforcement agencies.

President Biden’s
meeting with the pope comes at a time when a section of Roman Catholic bishops
in the United States have sought to admonish Biden for his support of abortion
rights. Biden is a Catholic and attends church on a regular basis. Jill Biden,
the first lady of the United States, will also meet the pope during the visit.