Nelson Mandela (pictured right) was the first Black president of South Africa following the historic 1994 elections, the former leader of the African National Congress (ANC) and is a past winner of the Nobel Peace Prize (shared with F.W. De Klerk, the previous president). He is a figure who is often revered for his efforts in the fight against Apartheid in South Africa, including a 27 year stint in prison, and is widely recognised as the modern poster boy for racial equality.
Some people may be surprised (and saddened) to learn that Mr Mandela is not however an ally of the pro-life movement. Indeed, as Mr Mandela and his comrades dethroned apartheid after 48 years in power, he and his health minister, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, ushered in a new era of unprecedented bloodshed in South Africa, with the passing of the Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Bill in 1996. It is a bitter pill to swallow for anyone who considers themselves to be pro-life, not least because Nelson Mandela’s victory against Apartheid is a shining example of the triumph of truth over lies.
The bill, which was at the time one of the most permissive pieces of abortion legislation in the world, allows women of any age (including minors) access to abortion in the following circumstances:
- On demand up until 12 weeks gestation
- For socio-economic reasons (fear of injury to the woman’s physical or mental health, physical or mental disabilities thought to be present in the unborn child, rape/incest or undesirable social or economic circumstances of the woman) up until 20 weeks gestation
- In cases of danger to the life of the mother and where disabilities are thought to be present in the unborn child (after 20th weeks gestation (i.e. up until birth).
The bill also allows midwives to carry out abortions up until the 12th week instead of a doctor and does not require a second opinion except in cases of abortions past 20 weeks gestation. Even more shockingly, the bill allows for forced abortions in cases where a woman is deemed to be ‘severely mentally disabled’, up until 12 weeks gestation. From 13 to 20 weeks gestation, a forced abortion may be carried out on ‘severely mentally disabled’ women upon the request or with the consent of a parent, guardian or curator personae.
Abortion had previously been allowed under the Abortion and Sterilisation Act of 1975 in cases where the physical or mental health of the mother was in danger, in cases of rape/incest or if the baby was thought to have a disability of any kind, but not for social reasons. Therefore, prior to 1997, legal abortions had taken place and figures had been steadily increasing from 1990-1996 from around 750 to 1,600 every year. However, after the passing of the Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Bill, the number of abortions jumped to around 26,500 in 1997 and peaked at approximately 93,600 in 2008. Many supporters of the abortion bill claimed that legalised and so-called ‘safe’ abortion would help to drastically reduce the Maternal Mortality Rate in South Africa. It has, as any pro-life person could have predicted, done nothing of the sort. In fact, the South African Health Review reported in 2007 that 625 mothers died per 100,000 live births in 2007 in South Africa, a figure which has increased from 369 in 2001.
The reader may also be shocked to read that the former Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who also won the Nobel Peace prize in 1984 for his part in ending Apartheid, not only supports the ‘right’ to abortion, but is an avid champion of abortion and contraception. The website ‘Population Security’ has said, “Tutu said he approved of artificial contraception and said abortion was acceptable in a number of situations, such as rape and incest.” He was also quoted as saying, “Planned Parenthood is an obligation of those who are Christians...Our church thinks we should use scientific methods that assist in planning our families”, and that it was far better to have the “children that we want than to say you must have children, no matter what”.
The controversy does not end there. Gateway news reported in December 2011 that Tutu has endorsed Marie Stopes clinics in South Africa through a poster which includes a picture of himself, entitled ‘Choice not chance’ - the Marie Stopes slogan. According to a Marie Stopes spokesperson, this was a one off internal campaign for the abortion provider in South Africa. Ironically, Tutu is the author of a children’s storybook bible which is supposed to celebrate children all over the world.
A poster inside a Marie Stopes clinic in Cape Town
It is saddening to see those who fought against the great injustice of Apartheid, promoting such cruel acts of violence towards unborn children and their mothers. Notwithstanding their contributions to peace in other areas of society, how can these men be held up as champions of peace when they campaigned for the death of countless babies in the womb?