On Monday 3rd February 2014 over 150 people attended a lunchtime Mass at St Mary’s Cathedral, Cape Town, to mark the anniversary of the passage of the Termination of Pregnancy Act in 1996. The Catholic Parliamentary Liaison Office has organised this Mass for many years as an ongoing reminder of the fact that this legislation is still on the statute books. It is estimated that since then over a million abortions have been procured in South Africa. Statistics for 2012-2013 confirm 85,302 abortions. It is true that there are still many illegal abortions taking place daily. Preaching at the Mass, Archbishop Stephen Brislin commented that the advent of easy, legalised abortions had not only meant the death of innocent children, created by God but had also had the effect of steadily blunting the conscience of many people who now just regarded it as acceptable because it was legal. He went on to say that this attitude blunted the important distinction between what is legal and what is moral and that in South Africa the two had been conflated. He said that such legislation, while common in the West, is not generally part of the legal systems in Africa. Archbishop Brislin added that while working tirelessly to rescind this legislation, it was also as necessary to work tirelessly against the greed in our society that resulted in the widespread poverty, poor access to education and health facilities that in fact created the conditions in which many women felt that they had no alternative but to procure an abortion. He added that a truly pro life position meant caring for the dignity of people and their human rights in all spheres ‘from the womb to the tomb.’
The archbishop commended the work done by groups in the Archdiocese such as Human Life International and the Mater Domini House, in providing alternatives for women faced with decisions around their pregnancies and the lives of their unborn children. He expressed the wish that all parish communities would be seen as safe and caring places for women in need in this area.
Fr Peter-John Pearson and Fr Matsepane Morare both from the Catholic Parliamentary Liaison Office concelebrated with Archbishop Brislin.