Nelson Mandela legalised abortion in S. Africa – pray for his soul

I wrote the piece below for the SPUC Why I am Pro-life blog last year.

Nobel Peace Prize Committee disregards violence towards unborn children and their mothers

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?

10 thoughts on “Nelson Mandela legalised abortion in S. Africa – pray for his soul

  1. Why waste time praying for his soul.By being obstinate in sin I am assuming he has a prime spot in hell guaranteed?If I am not mistaken we can help only those who are in purgatory?

    • We must never assume that someone is in hell. A good priest told my friend the other day that the Church does not even say whether Judas is in hell or not.

      We should hope that everyone is in heaven, but assume they are in purgatory and therefore pray for them.

      The Church teaches that no prayer is wasted. If Mandela is in hell, our prayers can be used for someone else. I believe he was a bad man and through all the empty praise he has received on earth, he has already had his reward for whatever good he achieved re apartheid. Nevertheless, he was made and loved by God and so, for God’s sake, we should sincerely hope he is not in hell and therefore pray for him.

    • It’s not actually about my good will, it’s just about doing what the Church tells us to do. And anyway, what is wrong with being optimistic? You have no idea where that person is and because they were made and loved by God, you should pray for them for His sake, because you are trying to love Him.

      Imagine how many people are in purgatory and have not been prayed for because people couldn’t be bothered, forgot or assumed they were in hell? How awful and we will have to answer for our lack of compassion when we meet our Maker.

      “Because we do not know whose souls are in purgatory and whose are not, we pray for all the faithful departed, especially those who were closest to us in this life or those most in need of prayer. Even though a person may have led an exemplary life, no one but God knows if that person went immediately to heaven at the moment of death. For that reason it is an injustice to assume that any one of the faithful departed (unless canonized by the church) does not need our prayers. Because the souls in purgatory cannot pray for themselves, they rely on our prayers.” – Bishop Sheridan, published on Catholic Culture.

      I do not know if Mandela repented before he died. He might have done because the approach of death seems to do that to people! Consider this story regarding St John Vianney (which seems to have been verified here, on the EWTN website – very useful!):

      “The saint tells of a woman dressed in black and crying in the church. She was praying for her husband who had committed suicide. He had been very negligent in his religious duties. The Beloved saint said to her: “He is saved. He is in purgatory. We must pray for him. Between the parapet of the bridge and the water he had time to make an act of contrition. Our Lady obtained this grace for him even though he was irreligious because he sometimes joined you in your prayers at your May altar. This merited contrition and final pardon.”

      Also, read this below, found on Catholic Culture:

      The practice of prayer for the dead actually precedes the Christian era. The Old Testament’s Second Book of Maccabees relates the story of how Judas Maccabeus called for prayer for his comrades who had fallen in battle. The Scriptures tell us that Judas Maccabeus and his soldiers “turned to prayer, beseeching that the sin which had been committed [by their dead brothers] might be wholly blotted out.” (2 Mc 12:42)

      The sacred text continues: “In doing this he acted very well and honorably, taking account of the resurrection. For if he were not expecting that those who had fallen would rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead. But if he was looking to the splendid reward that is laid up for those who fall asleep in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Therefore he made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin.” (2 Mc 12:43b-45)” –

      Also, read this part of the Catechism, which deals with some of what we’re speaking of.

  2. Thanks for all these articles..But I must admit God’s mercy makes me jealous.Makes me wonder if he has only a merciful side and not one of justice.

    • Ha, I know what you mean! Right now, I feel like the faithful son in my family and my brother is the prodigal son who gets all the praise, but I was the prodigal son once too and we are all prodigal sons for Our Lord at some point. There have been times in our lives when we’ve come back to God with our tails between our legs, ashamed of our bad behaviour. We would not have liked it if God had not forgiven us. My Mum reminds me (regarding my brother) that Christ said that we must be ready to forgive seventy times seven times!

      “Then came Peter unto Him and said: Lord, how often shall my brother offend against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith to him: I say not to thee, till seven times; but till seventy times seven times.” – Matthew 18:21-22

      The truth is that God is just and He will judge us at the end of our days and it won’t turn out well if we have not repented. I’m afraid of that day because we’ve read so many times that all our sins will be exposed and there are just so many of them…

      I think that Hell is such an awful place, so awful that we can’t even begin to imagine it, that we should sincerely hope that no one goes there. If we love God, we should love His other children enough to pray for them. It’s hard because there are many people who we see who we think deserve hell, but then we all deserve a lot and yet look how graciously we are treated by God. We are so blessed and we don’t deserve any of it 🙂

      “And be ye kind one to another; merciful, forgiving one another, even as God hath forgiven you in Christ.” – Ephesians 4:32

      I’m not saying that I don’t hate people too and I really wish them ill, but I try my best to remind myself that God doesn’t want me to because no Father wants to see his children hate each other.

    • Hi Abin

      God would certainly be an unjust God if he did not punish sin. And God does punish our sins. All of us stand guilty before God, so who is punished for our sins? There are two possibilities. Either Jesus died on the cross as punishment for your sins, and on his perfect account you will be welcomed into fellowship with God for ever, or, you must be punished for your sins, which punishment will be eternal. That is what we call “hell”.

      Our repentance is necessary, but on its own account it is not enough to bring us into God’s friendship. If we could save ourselves, we would not have needed a Saviour. To be a child of God and not merely a creature, we must be adopted through the only-begotten Son.

  3. Sorry if it wasn’t clear. I was just replying to what Abin said:

    “Makes me wonder if he has only a merciful side and not one of justice.”

    Lots of people can be mistaken into thinking God is a big softy like Father Christmas, who says he’s only going to bring presents to the children who have been good, and ends up bringing them to everybody. Since God is a just God, he punishes sin. Jesus is the Lamb of God – lambs were sacrificed in the OT so the Jews could have their sins forgiven – and the cross is the vicarious punishment of the sins of God’s people. But for those who are not his children, the rest of the human race, the sacrifice does not avail them, and they have to bear the punishment themselves, because they are the inheritors of the broken relationship between God and man that has existed since the Fall.

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