Editor’s note. This comes from our friends at the Parliamentary Network for Critical Issues.
The Permanent Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations in New York hosted a panel discussion entitled Best Practices for Maternal Healthcare in Africa during the 60th meeting of the Commission on the Status of Women. The event was sponsored by three pro-life NGOs to the UN – Campaign Life Coalition, Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC), and REAL Women of Canada. Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the UN, moderated the discussion and said one of the most important ways the international community can empower women is through genuine support of women who are mothers, which in turn strengthens the family and the whole of society.
Experts on the panel addressed the lack of access to maternal health care experienced by women in Africa. Obianuju Ekeocha, Founder and President of Culture of Life Africa stated, “Africa is made of 54 countries with many cultures, tribes and creeds, but our common thread is our understanding that human life is precious from conception and motherhood should be celebrated. Most of the African communities actually believe by tradition, by their cultural standards, that abortion is a direct attack on human life.”
Rather than pushing for abortion, Ekeocha explained that efforts to help women in Africa should focus on the need for access to healthcare that addresses the leading causes of maternal mortality stating, “We need access to real prenatal health care, we need skilled birth, we need care and support after birth. This is non-controversial.”
She added, “My tribe in Nigeria doesn’t even have a way to explain abortion in our language because it is so against our culture.” Ekeocha described the push for abortion in Africa as “ideological neo-colonization.”
Dr. Robert Walley, Executive Director of Mater Care International, addressed the need to collaborate on the local level with traditional birth attendants and tribal leaders to ensure access to treatment for women while respecting African culture, especially given 80 per cent of deliveries occur in remote villages. …
The International Director of the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children in London, Maria Madise, described how maternal mortality rates declined in Britain in the 1930s due to antibiotics, access to blood transfusions, and better healthcare training and organization, long before widespread access to abortion and contraception. She stated, “Childbirth is rendered safe by entirely ethical solutions. It is an absurd conclusion to say the legalization of abortion is necessary to save women’s lives.”