Article by Marc Aupiais
South African law, reflects the official beliefs of the ANC (African National Congress, the ruling party in the Republic, which came to power under Nelson Mandela) since 1994, that abortion is an intrinsic right of both women and girls:
"Recognising the values of human dignity, the achievement of equality, security of the person, non-racialism and non-sexism, and the advancement of human rights and freedoms which underlie a democratic South Africa;Preamble of the Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1996 (Act No. 92 of 1996)
Recognising that the Constitution protects the right of persons to make decisions concerning reproduction and to security in and control over their bodies;
Recognising that both women and men have the right to be informed of and to have access to safe, effective, affordable and acceptable methods of fertility regulation of their choice, and that women have the right of access to appropriate health care services to ensure safe pregnancy and childbirth;
Recognising that the decision to have children is fundamental to women's physical, psychological and social health and that universal access to reproductive health care services includes family planning and contraception, termination of pregnancy, as well as sexuality education and counseling programmes and services;
Recognising that the State has the responsibility to provide reproductive health to all, and also to provide safe conditions under which the right of choice can be exercised without fear or harm;
Believing that termination of pregnancy is not a form of contraception or population control;"
"The hands of South Africa's lawmakers are dripping with blood", said Archbishop Buti Tlhagale of Johannesburg.
He said this, Saturday, to thousands of protesters gathered for a Johannesburg march, rallying for an end of South Africa's state sponsored, legally endorsed, Constitutional Court protected abortion system. A memorandum demanding an end to legalized abortion was handed over to officials of the Department of Health, at the historic site of Constitution Hill, about four blocks from the Cathedral of Christ the King, where the protest walk had begun. The march, which extended from Nuggett street to King George Street, followed a Mass and a sermon by the influential, and often fiery Archbishop. Archbishop Buti, who has acted as both an apologist for the actions of the ANC monopoly government in South Africa, and as a major critic of it, claimed that "South Africa is a young democracy - yet those at the helm have wasted no time in 'binning God'." He furthered his accusations, even seemingly alleging a government antagonism to organised religion, claiming at the anti-abortion event: "They tolerate religion so long as it is practised in private," adding the accusation that "South Africa's lawmakers deny that God is the source of all freedom."
Archbishop Buti has in the past accused the government of "passive genocide", over its response to the Zimbabwean land crisis, and subsequent occurrences in neighbouring Zimbabwe, joining other voices criticising The Republic of South Africa's "quiet diplomacy", towards its neighbour. He has also previously claimed, over the moral fiasco, which eventually ended in the de facto impeachment of former president Thabo Mbeki, and the dropping of all 700 charges of corruption against President Jacob Zuma, that South Africa was heading in the direction of "sin and ruin", due to the actions of the government's leaders. When Thabo Mbeki left office, the Archbishop noted his achievements, such as the building of schools. When Jacob Zuma's ambassador arrived at the Vatican, he was greeted with much praise of South Africa, and of his rival Thabo Mbeki's achievements, and of other historic factors, but unlike the welcome to Thabo Mbeki, the message to Zuma, in what it did and not say was striking. In what it said, it seemed to the trained eye, that the pope was quoting the Archbishop of Johannesburg.
"The Act [noted above] simply frees a person from moral responsibility, from the dictates of their conscience," said the clergyman, "'Since abortion is approved by Government legislation [then] it cannot be wrong,' is the reasoning which sees morality reduced to a personal preference," the archbishop charged.
Turning to calls by Jacob Zuma for moral debate, shortly after it was discovered that South Africa's polygamist president had fathered even more love-children "The debate around moral regeneration is simply that : debate. There is no search for elusive moral value, [and] not much conscience. In the debate there are no absolutes, no non-negotiables."
The Archbishop contrasted this with what he believed should be the foundation of any moral debate, of the type called for in South Africa: "For Christians God is the author of life and we have to answer to Him on the issue of abortion. Yes, there are tensions between individuals and [there is] tension between the church and politicians who have legislated [for] the killing of life in the womb but society is far too lazy to search for the truth, to do what is moral."
Asked for anything by which to estimate the numbers of protesters, for our service, the Editor of Archdiocesan news, whom we have in the past collaborated with, said that the Cathedral had been filled to capacity during mass, holding about 2 000 (two thousand) people, and that there were about another hundred gathered outside in the parking lot of the Cathedral. Others, she informed our service, had joined that march afterwards. The turnout was, based on her testimony to our service, thus likely lower than the 3 000 (three thousand) hoped for by the organisers "Campaign for Life", but still significant, given that this was one of the first major anti-abortion marches to be conducted by the Church in South Africa.
"We are on a cause of life." said the Archbishop:
"We march today because the Church is duty bound to raise its voice; duty bound to value life, especially life in the womb. South Africa's lawmakers deny life and offer abortion on demand. In this country child rape, brutal abuse of women and children, drugs, violent road deaths are common. Amidst this everyday violence the gospel calls us to protect and revere life. 'Thou shalt not kill' is unambiguous. Life is of unassailable, inestimable value and abortion is a deplorable crime."
He then turned to the authority of the Hippocratic oath, which historically had directly forbidden abortion since ancient times: "Doctors and nurses are pledged to serve life, not death. How long will it be before the South Africa's constitution protects life?"
According to a message sent our service by the editor of Archdiocesan News:
"The Archbishop called on young people to respect their bodies, respect life and speak out. Silence means complicity.
'Love God, love your neighbour.' he urged the assembly. 'Protect and defend life - life from its inception!"
Despite prior planning, permission to hold the anti-abortion march, was withheld by the state, until Thursday last week, the march occurred on Saturday morning. The South African Press Association, had all the information we have by 16:00 on Saturday afternoon, according to a source, however, we have yet to pick up the story of a major march in any of the main press services in South Africa. A march involving about 100 people against abortion had been reported on in February by media. That organization had claimed that over 9 00 000 (nine hundred thousand) unborn offspring had been slain in abortion since Nelson Mandela signed South Africa's pro-abortion legislation into law, that group had further said to media, that abortion is funded by the taxpayer in South Africa. Financial group KPMG has warned of a skills shortage facing South Africa in the future, due to a decline in birthrate, along with the impact of other factors on population.
Our Service has, likely in mimicry of other media: further received no release whatsoever on this important march from the Information Officer of the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference, Father Chris Townsend, who claimed to our editor during talks in which we desired media releases from the SACBC in general, that he was on the board of the Southern Cross, a newspaper which has used it's influence to promote legal abortion directly, as well as to promote pro-abortion Barak Obama. Father Chris Townsend had threatened our service, after we had reported on alleged use of Catholic funding for Caritas Internationalis, in order to fund pro-abortion advocates. Without the official structures of the Diocese of Johannesburg noting this event, our service would not have picked up this march. Much thanks to Archdiocesan News, an official structure of the Archdiocese of Johannesburg, and their editor, for monitoring the march for us, as we requested, and in accordance with previous collaboratory agreements, as our service was not able to do so on this particular day.