Hilary White, Rome Correspondent

Abortion push escalates in Botswana

Hilary White, Rome Correspondent
Hilary White, Rome Correspondent

GABORONE, Botswana, May 5, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – An editorial in the Botswana Gazette this week, notes that there has been a mass escalation by international NGOs pushing to legalise abortion in answer to the country’s many woes. The call has been taken up by the media and some members of government, including Assistant Minister of Local Government Botlhogile Tshireletso who has called on the government to consider complete legalisation.

The Penal Code makes abortion a crime except in cases of pregnancy under 16 weeks gestation, where the pregnancy is the result of rape, “defilement” or incest; the pregnancy “puts the life of the mother at risk or may cause harm to her physical or mental health” or in cases where the “unborn child would suffer or later develop physical or mental abnormality. Abortions for rape, incest or “foetal impairment” must be approved in writing by two doctors and all abortions must be carried out in government-approved hospitals or specialty “clinics”. Officially, only abortions for “social and economic reasons” or abortions “on request” are disallowed under the law.

Despite these sweeping exceptions, including the notorious “mental health” exception that has opened the door to virtual abortion on demand in many western countries, international organisations and some local politicians are agitating for the removal of all restrictions.

The May 2nd Gazette editorial said, “The law has made it highly difficult for women to terminate pregnancy. This has meant that women have to resort to street abortion to assert their reproductive rights and make a deliberate decision whether or not to keep the pregnancy. 

“The restrictive criteria for legal abortions and the continued criminalisation of abortion pushes women into unsafe abortions and early deaths,” the editorial said. As long as abortion remains in the penal code, the editor complains, it will not be recognised as “a right”.

In February this year, Minister Tshireletso, responding to the budget speech, called upon government to legalise abortion, saying, “Just recently, we read about six heads of infants which were found in a bucket. In another incident we heard about how dogs dug out the head of a dumped fetus.

“These things are worrisome. They are the works of backyard abortions. I therefore call on government to make abortion legal so that desperate pregnant women can have access to safer, legal and decent abortions.”

In 2011, Minister Tshireletso also supported a call from a former president of Botswana to legalise prostitution, that she called “sex work,” saying that sex workers “are not only those we call ‘ladies of the night.”

“I have male friends who tell me where they buy. So let’s decriminalise sex work to protect these people who get cheated because they do not have anywhere to go for help.”

Botswana is still a majority Christian country, with over 70 per cent of its population belonging to the various denominations, and its Christian leadership has spoken out against this latest call for legalisation. Pastor Biggie Butale, head of the Evangelical Fellowship of Botswana, said “abortion is absolute murder,” and that the churches will never accept it.

“Such an act is morally inadmissible, because it is murder; the right to life underlies all other rights and we can never support murder of innocent unborn babies that cannot retaliate,” Butale said. “As the church we unite in the defense of life, repudiating any attempts to legalize abortion in our country.

Butale warned of dire consequences if Botswana legalises abortion, saying it dehumanises.

Botswana is a country beset with problems related to health, infant and maternal mortality, and uncontrolled extramarital sexual activity, and as such is a special target of international population control groups. The State Department of the US note that HIV is mainly spread through heterosexual contact, and that the number of young girls who are infected far outstrips the number of young men.

Although average life expectancy is rising, it still lags far behind developed countries, with 2012 statistics showing 56.93 years for men, and 54.51 years for women – an improvement on the 48 years recorded for women in 1995-2000.

All observers agree that the most significant factor in the statistics is the rate of AIDS/HIV infection which is believed to be the second highest in the world in Botswana, with 24.8 per cent of the adult population being infected. The US State Department estimated in 2009 that there were 93,000 orphans due to AIDS in Botswana.

The population is young, with a median age of about 22 years for men and women, and only a tiny percentage (3.9) of the population surviving past age 65. In addition to AIDS, the rates of death from other infectious diseases is high, including bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, typhoid fever and malaria.

Paradoxically, these woes come at a time when Botswana’s economy is growing, despite the global economic crisis. In the last ten years, the country has moved from being one of the poorest in the world to being a middle-income country, though it still relies heavily on its single-export trade of diamonds. Despite recent growth, Botswana has an unofficial unemployment rate of nearly 40 per cent, with the spectre of depopulation from AIDS a constant threat to future economic prospects.

In the 1974 document issued by the US National Security Council, National Security Study Memorandum 200, Botswana was listed among the Sub-Saharan African “least developed countries” whose population growth was considered problematic. The Memorandum held that population growth in these countries is a risk to U.S. concerns abroad. The Memorandum was adopted as official policy in 1975, and led to the pairing of overseas aid to developing countries with the mandating of population control measures, including the promotion of artificial contraception.

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PBS defends decision to air pro-abortion documentary ‘After Tiller’

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By Dustin Siggins

Under pressure for showing the pro-abortion documentary "After Tiller" on Labor Day, PBS' "POV" affiliate has defended the decision in response to an inquiry from LifeSiteNews.

The producers of the film say their goal with the documentary, which tells the stories of four late-term abortion doctors after the killing of infamous late-term abortionist George Tiller, is to "change public perception of third-trimester abortion providers by building a movement dedicated to supporting their right to work with a special focus on maintaining their safety.” 

POV told LifeSiteNews, "We do believe that 'After Tiller' adds another dimension to an issue that is being debated widely." Asked if POV will show a pro-life documentary, the organization said that it "does not have any other films currently scheduled on this issue. POV received almost 1000 film submissions each year through our annual call for entries and we welcome the opportunity to consider films with a range of points of view."

When asked whether POV was concerned about alienating its viewership -- since PBS received more than $400 million in federal tax dollars in 2012 and half of Americans identify as pro-life -- POV said, "The filmmakers would like the film to add to the discussion around these issues. Abortion is already a legal procedure."

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"This is an issue that people feel passionately about and will have a passionate response to. We are hopeful that the majority of people can see it for what it is, another lens on a very difficult issue." 

In addition to the documentary, POV has written materials for community leaders and teachers to share. A cursory examination of the 29-page document, which is available publicly, appears to include links to outside sources that defend Roe v. Wade, an examination of the constitutional right to privacy, and "a good explanation of the link between abortion law and the right to privacy," among other information.

Likewise, seven clips recommended for student viewing -- grades 11 and beyond -- include scenes where couples choose abortion because the children are disabled. Another shows pro-life advocates outside a doctor's child's school, and a third is described as showing "why [one of the film's doctors] chose to offer abortion services and includes descriptions of what can happen when abortion is illegal or unavailable, including stories of women who injured themselves when they tried to terminate their own pregnancies and children who were abused because they were unwanted."

Another clip "includes footage of protesters, as well as news coverage of a hearing in the Nebraska State Legislature in which abortion opponents make reference to the idea that a fetus feels pain." The clip's description fails to note that it is a scientifically proven fact that unborn children can feel pain.

The documentary is set to air on PBS at 10 p.m. Eastern on Labor Day.

Kirsten Andersen contributed to this article.

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He defended ‘real’ marriage, and then was beheaded for it

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By Pete Baklinski

A Christian man was executed during the night by a high-profile ruler after making an uncompromising defense of real marriage.

The Christian, who was renowned for his holiness, had told the ruler in public that his relationship with his partner was “against the law” of God. The Christian’s words enraged the ruler’s partner who successfully plotted to have him permanently silenced.

John the Baptist was first imprisoned before he was beheaded. The Catholic Church honors him today, August 29, as a martyr and saint.

While John’s death happened a little less than 2,000 years ago, his heroic stance for real marriage is more pertinent today than ever before.

According to the Gospel of Mark, the ruler Herod had ‘married’ his brother’s wife Herodias. When John told Herod with complete frankness, “It is against the law for you to have your brother’s wife,” Herodias became “furious” with him to the point of wanting him killed for his intolerance, bullying, and hate-speech.

Herodias found her opportunity to silence John by having her daughter please Herod during a dance at a party. Herod offered the girl anything she wanted. The daughter turned to her mother for advice, and Herodias said to ask for John’s head on a platter.

Those who fight for real marriage today can learn three important lessons from John’s example.

  1. Those proudly living in ungodly and unnatural relationships — often referred to in today’s sociopolitical sphere as ‘marriage’ — will despise those who tell them what they are doing is wrong. Real marriage defenders must expect opposition to their message from the highest levels.
  2. Despite facing opposition, John was not afraid to defend God’s plan for marriage in the public square, even holding a secular ruler accountable to this plan. John, following the third book of the Hebrew Bible (Leviticus 20:21), held that a man marrying the wife of his brother was an act of “impurity” and therefore abhorrent to God. Real marriage defenders must boldly proclaim today that God is the author of marriage, an institution he created to be a life-long union between one man and one woman from which children arise and in which they are best nurtured. Marriage can be nothing more, nothing less.
  3. John did not compromise on the truth of marriage as revealed by God, even to the point of suffering imprisonment and death for his unpopular position. Real marriage defenders must never compromise on the truth of marriage, even if the government, corporate North America, and the entire secular education system says otherwise. They must learn to recognize the new “Herodias” of today who despises those raising a voice against her lifestyle. They must stand their ground no matter what may come, no matter what the cost.

John the Baptist was not intolerant or a bigot, he simply lived the word of God without compromise, speaking the word of truth when it was needed, knowing that God’s way is always the best way. Were John alive today, he would be at the forefront of the grassroots movement opposing the social and political agenda to remake marriage in the image of man.

Click "like" if you want to defend true marriage.

If he were alive today he might speak simple but eloquent words such as, “It is against God’s law for two men or two women to be together as a husband and wife in marriage. Marriage can only be between a man and a woman.” 

He would most likely be hated. He would be ridiculed. He would surely have the human rights tribunals throwing the book at him. But he would be speaking the truth and have God as his ally. 

The time may not be far off when those who defend real marriage, like John, will be presented with the choice of following Caesar or making the ultimate sacrifice. May God grant his faithful the grace to persevere in whatever might come. St. John the Baptist, pray for us!

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The Wunderlich family Mike Donnelly / Home School Legal Defence Association
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German homeschoolers regain custody of children, vow to stay and fight for freedom

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By Thaddeus Baklinski

One year to the day since a team of 20 social workers, police officers, and special agents stormed a homeschooling family’s residence near Darmstadt, Germany, and forcibly removed all four of the family’s children, aged 7 to 14, a state appeals court has returned custody of the children to their parents.

The reason given for the removal was that parents Dirk and Petra Wunderlich continued to homeschool their children in defiance of a German ban on home education.

The children were returned three weeks after being taken, following an international outcry spearheaded by the Home School Legal Defense Association.

However, a lower court imposed the condition on the parents that their children were required to attend state schools in order for them to be released, and took legal custody of the children in order to prevent the family from leaving the country.

In a decision that was still highly critical of the parents and of homeschooling, the appeals court decided that the action of the lower court in putting the children in the custody of the state was “disproportional” and ordered complete custody returned to the parents, according to a statement by the HSLDA.

The Wunderlichs, who began homeschooling again when the court signaled it would rule this way, said they were very pleased with the result, but noted that the court’s harsh words about homeschooling indicated that their battle was far from over.

“We have won custody and we are glad about that,” Dirk said.

“The court said that taking our children away was not proportionate—only because the authorities should apply very high fines and criminal prosecution instead. But this decision upholds the absurd idea that homeschooling is child endangerment and an abuse of parental authority.”

The Wunderlichs are now free to emigrate to another country where homeschooling is legal, if they choose, but they said they intend to remain in Germany and work for educational freedom.

“While we no longer fear that our children will be taken away as long as we are living in Hessen, it can still happen to other people in Germany,” Dirk said. “Now we fear crushing fines up to $75,000 and jail. This should not be tolerated in a civilized country.”

Petra Wunderlich said, "We could not do this without the help of HSLDA,” but cautioned that, “No family can fight the powerful German state—it is too much, too expensive."

"If it were not for HSLDA and their support, I am afraid our children would still be in state custody. We are so grateful and thank all homeschoolers who have helped us by helping HSLDA.”

HSLDA’s Director for Global Outreach, Michael Donnelly, said he welcomed the ruling but was concerned about the court’s troubling language.

“We welcome this ruling that overturns what was an outrageous abuse of judicial power,” he said.

“The lower court decision to take away legal custody of the children essentially imprisoned the Wunderlich family in Germany. But this decision does not go far enough. The court has only grudgingly given back custody and has further signaled to local authorities that they should still go after the Wunderlichs with criminal charges or fines.”

Donnelly pointed out that such behavior in a democratic country is problematic.

“Imprisonment and fines for homeschooling are outside the bounds of what free societies that respect fundamental human rights should tolerate,” he explained.

“Freedom and fundamental human rights norms demand respect for parental decision making in education. Germany’s state and national policies that permit banning home education must be changed.

"Such policies from a leading European democracy not only threaten the rights of tens of thousands of German families but establish a dangerous example that other countries may be tempted to follow,” Donnelly warned.

HSLDA Chairman Michael Farris said that acting on behalf of the Wunderlichs was an important stand for freedom.

“The Wunderlichs are a good and decent family whose basic human rights were violated and are still threatened,” Farris said.

“Their fight is our fight," Farris stressed, "and we will continue to support those who stand against German policy banning homeschooling that violates international legal norms. Free people cannot tolerate such oppression and we will do whatever we can to fight for families like the Wunderlichs both here in the United States and abroad. We must stand up to this kind of persecution where it occurs or we risk seeing own freedom weakened.”

Visit the HSLDA website dedicated to helping the Wunderlich family and other German homeschoolers here.

Contact the German embassy in the U.S. here.

Contact the German embassy in Canada here.

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