Has parliament legalized abortion? Malawi Catholic bishops condemn abortion in pastoral letter

Malawi parliament this week passed a government bill which critics say will make abortion legal in the country and bishops of the influential Catholic church in Malawi in a pastoral statement—expected to be read on Sunday—they have spoken against abortion and artificial birth control measures.

When Gender, Children and Social Welfare Minister Anita Kalinde tabled the Gender Equality Bill lawmakers warned government against legalizing abortion in the country, saying it was an “immoral act” which can’t be supported.

The bill, which allows women to have the right to choose to have a child without coercion or duress, was unanimously passed into law.

Meanwhile, the he pastoral letter, dated March 2 2013 signed by all Catholic bishops, including Bishop Joseph Zuza, chairperson of the Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) and bishop for Mzuzu Diocese; his vice Thomas Msusa of Zomba Diocese, Tarcisius Ziyaye of Blantyre Archdiocese, Remi Ste-Marie of Lilongwe Archdiocese; Peter Musikuwa of Chikhwawa Diocese, Emmanuel Kanyama of Dedza Diocese; Alessandro Pagani of Mangochi Diocese; Dr. Martin Mtumbuka of Karonga Diocese and Montfort Stima, Auxiliary Bishop of Blantyre Archdiocese speak against abortions, especially direct ones.

Bishops of the influential Catholic Church
Bishops of the influential Catholic Church

“The Catholic Church condemns all direct abortions as gravely sinful. Life must be safeguarded with extreme care from conception; abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes,” reads the statement quoting Pope Paul VI who declared that this teaching of the Church “has not changed and is unchangeable.”

The bishops also challenge medical personnel to choose the law of God and refuse cooperating in abortions.

“It is, for instance, inadmissible that doctors or nurses should find themselves obliged to cooperate closely in abortions and have to choose between the law of God and their professional situation,” the statement reads as quoted in the Weekend Nation.

The bishops observe that most abortions are procured not to save the life of the mother, but to obtain some other human value that is opposed in some way to pregnancy.

They further observe that most abortions involve healthy women and foetus.

“The foetus is looked at as a burden because the woman is unmarried, or poor, or at the beginning of her career, or at school, or that she has enough children already [birth control]. At stake is an effort to break the traditional link between sexual intercourse and procreation,” says the statement.

Against the argument that the woman has a right to her own body and, therefore, she can decide what to do with the foetus, the bishops say it must be asserted that the right of the unborn to life takes precedence over the right of a woman to control her body.

However, the bishops observe that cases of indirect abortions when another proportionately more important value is at stake constitute exceptions.

Minister of Information Moses Kunkuyu told Weekend Nation that “Government may give official comment after the pastoral letter is out.”

The Bishops Church also denounced homosexuality, saying promotion of homosexuality threatens the existence of marriage as designed by God.

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