CATHOLIC AND AFRICAN OPPOSITION
Catholic and African Leaders Oppose the Maputo Protocol
Pope Benedict XVI himself said on January 8, 2007 in an address to the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See:
“How can we not be alarmed, moreover, by the continuous attacks on life, from conception to natural death? Such attacks do not even spare regions with a traditional culture of respecting life, such as Africa, where there is an attempt to trivialize abortion surreptitiously, both through the Maputo Protocol and through the Plan of Action adopted by the health ministers of the African Union –shortly to be submitted to the Summit of Heads of State and Heads of Government.”
On April 19, 2007, a joint statement was released by many prominent African bishops:
“We would like to draw the attention of the political leaders of Africa to our strong reservations concerning some aspects of Article 14 of the Maputo Protocol.…We observe that the rights of women to protect and promote their sexual and reproductive health in this article exclude the rights of the couple, the family and the larger society (civil, traditional, cultural and religious) from playing a part in promoting precisely the women’s rights to their health care. For instance, the authorization to have recourse to abortion and the choice of any method of contraception by the women (cf. Article 14, # 1, c and # 2, c) are particularly incompatible with our Catholic Church teaching, tradition and practice…. Additionally, the Church has continually affirmed since the first century that it is a moral evil for any person or agent to procure an abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable…. In the light of this, we observe that abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes to almost all of our African cultures, traditional societies and religions.”
The statement was signed by Cardinal Polycarp Pengo, President of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM) and Archbishop of Dar-Es-Salaam, Tanzania, and many other cardinals and bishops of Africa.
The Ugandan Catholic Bishops Conference said in a statement on Jan. 19, 2006:
“Never before has an international protocol gone so far! We believe strongly that the people of Africa have no wish to see such a protocol introduced into their laws. We are sure the people of Uganda would never wish it…. The situations of severe distress mentioned by the text of the protocol (rape, incest, sexual assault) cannot create the right to suppress an innocent life. This applies even less to a much less well-defined ‘danger to the mental and physical health of the mother or the life of the mother or the life of the foetus’ which, as matter of fact, is the open door to abortion on demand.”
US congressman Chris Smith visited Nigeria recently and criticized the Protocol. According to the Daily Champion of Lagos, Feb. 26, 2007, Smith said:
“The lives of countless Africans have been lost or harmed by war, crime, famine or disease and abortion, legal and illegal threatens to destroy the next generation of African children…. It is false to claim that abortion will be safe if it is legal. Abortion is never safe for the child and can harm the woman physically, emotionally and psychologically whether legal or illegal.”
The Promoters of the Maputo Protocol Include Radical Leftists. The Western organizers of the promotion of the Maputo Protocol are radically left-wing. Taking the lead has been Emma Bonino, Member of the European Parliament and a founder of the group No Peace Without Justice. Bonino is a member of the Radical Party in Italy. On the Radical Party’s website, under a link called “Anticlericalism,” pictures of a demonstration by Radical Party members in St. Peter’s Square are proudly posted. One protest sign says, “No Vatican No Taliban.” Another says, “No God. Atheism and Liberty.” One of the projects on its website calls itself, “No to Vatican interference on internal affairs of EU and member states on GLBT rights.” (GLBT stands for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered) The Radical Party also boasts of its role in promoting abortion and divorce in Italy.
Furthermore, the Maputo Plan of Action, adopted in September 2006 by African health ministers, calls for “Universal Access to Comprehensive Sexual and Reproductive Health Services in Africa” and wants abortion fully provided in every African country as far as national laws allow. When the Maputo Protocol abolishes abortion restrictions, this plan of action will be used to expand abortion at government expense.
Africa Is Not Overpopulated. The assumption often used to promote the Maputo Protocol and other such ideological plans is the overpopulation of Africa. It is assumed that there are too many black people, and that the wealthy nations of the world must work to reduce their numbers in cooperation with African governments. This is not true. Although many African nations have high birthrates, they sadly also have wars, famines, epidemics and rapidly declining fertility rates. We must also remember that the scourge of HIV/AIDS alone will continue to claim tens of millions of lives. Population projections for Africa usually assume that the AIDS pandemic will be brought under control quickly, a questionable assumption. According to the United Nations Population Division, Africa’s population density in 2005 was 30 people per square kilometer. That of Europe, including Russia, was 32. The sparsely populated United States had 31 people per square kilometer and Latin America and the Caribbean, 27. Asia is increasingly prosperous and had 124. Africa is a land of tremendous natural resources that would be wealthy if it did not suffer from political and economic exploitation. The Maputo Protocol is another example of wholesale social engineering imposed on Africa.
WHAT HUMAN LIFE INTERNATIONAL IS DOING AND PLANS TO DO
HLI Brought 100 Seminarians together and educated them on what the Maputo Protocole is and what dangers it presents to the African people in particular. The communiqué published and signed by seminarians from ten countries is proof of this.
We reinforced this by missionary journeys into the African countries to investigate the state of things regarding Maputo and to offer support to the local Church to resist Maputo. Gabon, Mali, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Togo, Benin, D. R. Congo, the Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Burundi and Cameroon.
We plan return journeys to these countries as well as ground breaking rips to African Republic, Senegal, Ghana and Chad in the course of 2008. The Maputo Protocol shall feature prominently in our advocacy in 2008.
Bringing law makers into the picture on the real nature of Maputo. We are convinced that where key personalities come to know what Maputo is all about, support for the protocol’s agenda will be weakened. Our affiliates are getting non-religious groups based support by involving members of the civil society in education, awareness and engagement.
Working through our affiliates and friends, we are trying to educate.
We plan to host another Seminarian Institute in the first half of 2008 to reinforce our work in other areas and review knowledge and action on the Maputo Agenda.
CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
A clear objective of the Maputo Protocol is to force abortion on every country in Africa.
The promoters of this document should be honest about its aims. If they say that the purpose of the Maputo Protocol is to fight FGM, then it should do just that, and not drag other issues like abortion and family planning into it.
Africans have always treasured life and family. The Maputo Protocol is an unprecedented assault on developing human life in the womb and the traditional family. Africa’s power lies not in her natural resources, but in the vibrancy of her young population. Any nation — indeed, any continent — that kills the next generation cannot survive.
The Maputo Protocol was inspired by Europeans, not Africans. Perhaps it is significant that Europe, where most countries have had abortion on demand for many years, has suffered from a declining population for the last decade and is now the world’s only “dying” continent.
Africa must not follow the example of suicidal Europe.
We recommend that the African nations which have not yet ratified the Maputo Protocol refuse to ratify this document.
If preventing ratification is not possible, States should make formal reservations to the pro-abortion language in article 14 and anti-family provisions in other parts of the Protocol.
African nations, especially health ministers, should resist anti-life policy changes coming from the Maputo Plan of Action which calls for “policies and legal frameworks to reduce the incidence of unsafe abortion,” training “service providers in the provision of comprehensive abortion care services where national law allows,” and implementation of “safe abortion services to the fullest extent of the law.”