South African Prelates Grim on Abortion Bill

PRETORIA, South Africa, AUG. 24, 2007 ( The right to life is an inalienable and constitutive element of civil society and its laws, according to the secretary-general of the Southern African Bishops’ Conference.

Father Vincent Brennan said this in a statement issued today that responds to the proposed legislation that would amend South Africa’s 1996 act legalizing abortion.

The bill exempts maternity clinics from a 24-hour waiting period to perform abortions, and allows nurses to perform the procedure. Until now, abortions have been restricted to only doctors and midwives.

The bishops’ statement said: “Society and the Church cannot profess to support the right to life and yet allow thousands of women to experience the distress and need which causes them to contemplate abortion.”

It continued: “The genuineness of convictions about the right to life of the unborn child must be measured by our willingness to give the necessary support.

“Those who are in a position to help, and who do not, cannot escape their responsibility. No woman should feel that she must face an unhappy pregnancy alone.”

“The Catholic Church,” the statement added, “exercising this consistent life ethic, is committed to various initiatives that provide vulnerable women with alternative choices to abortion, such as adoption.”