AFRICA/SOUTH AFRICA - After 15 years of legal abortion there are a million unborn children, denounces the Church

Johannesburg (Agenzia Fides) - "Fifteen years have passed since abortion on demand was legalized in South Africa. Since then, it is estimated that over one million unborn children were denied the most fundamental of rights, the right to life", said a statement on behalf of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC), signed by Archbishop Buti Tlhagale, Archbishop of Johannesburg and President of the SACBC. "We remember those one million unborn babies. We regret that those children of God were denied the right to be born into God’s world and to enrich it with their own unique gifts and talents. We will never fully realize what we have missed because the law says that 'abortion is fine'," said the statement sent to Fides. Archbishop Tlhagale recalls that those who supported the law said it was necessary to combat the scourge of illegal abortions. But the Archbishop asks himself whether after 15 years the law has reached its goal, given that "on almost every electricity pole along the streets of our cities and towns there are advertisments for 'safe and painless' abortions. They are outside the Head Office of the Department of Health in Pretoria, and on the boundary walls of our schools". "If the advertising is so public and so widespread, then the demand for those illegal abortions must still be high", notes Mgr. Tlhagale. The position of the Catholic Church on abortion is clear and unambiguous. Just because the law says it is legal does not make it morally right. Each unborn child is created by God who "knit together in (its) mother's womb" (cf. Psalm 139.13). He or she has a right to life, a right that must be respected by the mother and protected by state" the statement said . "Another right that must be respected by the state and its agents is that of conscientious objection. Those who believe that abortion is morally wrong have a right to refuse to participate in the medical procedures", recalls the statement. "All of us, parents, teachers, members of the Church, must understand what a young girl is going through when she realizes she is pregnant. She needs our love, our support, our understanding and sometimes our forgiveness " says Mgr. Tlhagale. "We in the Church are committed in every way to helping unmarried pregnant girls and couples tempted to take the abortion route. We will never condemn, just as Jesus refused to condemn" the Archbishop concluded, who invites the girls to come and speak to one of our priests or counselors. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 01/02/2012)