Abortion: A Malawi dilemma

How does one decide what is true or false, right or wrong, good or bad?

With that question, George Marston began his splendid book, The Voice of Authority.

“Every man” he said, “has a standard in matters of truth and conduct. That is his voice of authority. That voice is found in either God or man.”

Catholic bishops issued a pastoral letter which was read in Catholic churches across the country on March 3 2013, tackling a lot of contemporary issues affecting Malawi.

The letter made very interesting reading. Singling out abortion, you will evidently see that Malawi is in dilemma due to the proposed Gender Law.

Man is to preserve and protect life. Physicians and surgeons took an oath to do that (some Christian physicians still do). If men strive and hurt a woman with child so that her fruits depart from her and if any harm follow, then you shall give life for life? (Ex 21:22-24).

If God imposes capital punishment when a fatal miscarriage is caused, surely his judgment for premeditated abortion can be no less severe towards those who are party to such an abortion.

It is believed that the most dangerous place for anyone to be, with regard to the preservation of one’s life, is in the mother’s womb. The greatest threat to the child in gestation is not from measles or small pox; it is the pregnant woman who opts for abortion.

Advocates of the right to abortion insist it is a woman’s right to terminate an unwanted pregnancy, that it is part of her freedom to control her own body.

They assert that abortion is just one method of contraception. They argue that the termination of pregnancies as a way to ease economic dislocation (poverty), remedy sexual promiscuity and build a planned and perfect society.

But many Malawians of the opposing view insist that a woman should control her body by controlling herself and her emotions and that such control should come before, not after the act. They argue further that family planning must take place before abortion.

It is generally believed that less than three percent of abortions are performed for medical reasons or following rape or incest. Ninety-seven percent of abortions are strictly a matter of convenience. Many abortions nationwide are performed to cover up pre- or extra-marital sex.

In the United States of America (USA), Kansas was the first state to legalise abortion. Floodgates for abortion were opened on January 22 1973, when the United States Supreme Court in Roa vs. Wade held that a woman has the right to do as she chooses with her body. The seven to two majority concluded that a preborn child is not “legally” a person: thus it has no legal right until it is delivered.

This decision made it constitutionally impossible for any state to prohibit abortion.

Dr Bernard Nathanson, a founder of Nation Abortion Rights Action League, performed about 5 000 abortions following the court ruling. However, Nathanson, who once vehemently subscribed to and promoted pro-abortion arguments, later changed his mind and started fighting against abortion and abortionist.

He made public an ultrasonic filming of abortion dubbed The Silent Scream, which shows the unborn baby in the womb, thrashing about trying to avoid the suction device which is tearing off its head. Viewers of the film saw the child dismembered, its head crushed as it was sucked out of the womb.

The physician who performed the abortion that was filmed has never performed another. Dr and Mrs Nathanson produced an award-winning profile film and video cassette called Eclipse of Reason.

Churches and other groups opposed to abortion must be prepared to extend practical help to the unmarried woman who is pregnant.

Merely to say “you must not have an abortion” without being ready to involve ourselves in the problem is another way of being inhumane.

—The author is Founder of Victorious Life Church in Malawi

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