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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Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signs the state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
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Indiana faces backlash as it becomes 20th state to protect religious liberty

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By Ben Johnson

INDIANAPOLIS, IN, March 27, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – On Thursday, Indiana became the 20th state to prevent the government from forcing people of faith to violate their religious beliefs in business or the public square.

Gov. Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (SB 101) into law, saying the freedom of religion is a preeminent American value.

“The Constitution of the United States and the Indiana Constitution both provide strong recognition of the freedom of religion, but today, many people of faith feel their religious liberty is under attack by government action,” Pence said.

Gov. Pence, a possible dark horse candidate for president in 2016, cited court cases brought by religious organizations and employers, including Catholic universities, against the HHS mandate. “One need look no further than the recent litigation concerning the Affordable Care Act. A private business and our own University of Notre Dame had to file lawsuits challenging provisions that required them to offer insurance coverage in violation of their religious views.”

The new law could also prevent Christian business owners from being compelled to bake a cake or take photographs of a same-sex "marriage" ceremony, if doing so violates their faith. In recent years, business owners have seen an increased level of prosecution for denying such services, despite their religious and moral beliefs.

The state's pro-life organization applauded Pence for his stance. "Indiana's pro-life community is grateful to Gov. Mike Pence for signing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law,” said Indiana Right to Life's president and CEO Mike Fichter. “This bill will give pro-lifers a necessary legal recourse if they are pressured to support abortion against their deeply-held religious beliefs.”

“RFRA is an important bill to protect the religious freedom of Hoosiers who believe the right to life comes from God, not government,” he said.

The state RFRA is based on the federal bill introduced by Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993. The Supreme Court cited the federal law when it ruled that Hobby Lobby had the right to refuse to fund abortion-inducing drugs, if doing so violated its owners' sincerely held religious beliefs.

In signing the measure – similar to the one Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed – Pence and the state of Indiana have faced a torrent of venom from opponents of the bill, who claim it grants a “right to discriminate” and raises the spectre of segregation.

"They've basically said, as long as your religion tells you to, it's OK to discriminate against people," said Sarah Warbelow, legal director of the Human Rights Campaign, a national homosexual pressure group.

The Disciples of Christ, a liberal Protestant denomination based in the state capital, has said it will move its 2017 annual convention if the RFRA became state law. The NCAA warned the bill's adoption “might affect future events” in the Hoosier state.

Pence denied such concerns, saying, "This bill is not about discrimination, and if I thought it legalized discrimination in any way I would've vetoed it."

The bill's supporters say that, under the Obama administration, it is Christians who are most likely to suffer discrimination.

"Originally RFRA laws were intended to protect small religious groups from undue burdens on practicing their faith in public life,” said Mark Tooley, president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy. “It was not imagined there would come a day when laws might seek to jail or financially destroy nuns, rabbis or Christian camp counselors who prefer to abstain from the next wave of sexual and gender experimentation. And there's always a next wave.”

The bill's supporters note that it does not end the government's right to coerce people of faith into violating their conscience in every situation. However, it requires that doing so has to serve a compelling government interest and the government must use the least restrictive means possible. “There will be times when a state or federal government can show it has a compelling reason for burdening religious expression – to ensure public safety, for instance,” said Sarah Torre, an expert at the Heritage Foundation. “But Religious Freedom Restoration Acts set a high bar for the government to meet in order to restrict religious freedom.”

Restricting the ability of government to interfere in people's private decisions, especially their religious decisions, is the very purpose of the Constitution, its supporters say.

"Religious freedom is the cornerstone of all liberty for all people,” Tooley said. “Deny or reduce it, and there are no ultimate limits on the state's power to coerce."

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Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting.
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Porn is transforming our men from protectors into predators. Fight back.

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By Jonathon van Maren

Since I’ve gotten involved in anti-pornography work, I’ve met countless men who struggle, fight, or have beaten pornography. Each person seems to deal with the guilt and shame that accompanies porn use in a different way—some deny that it’s “all that bad,” others pretend that they could “stop whenever they want,” many insist that “everyone is doing it,” and most, when pressed, admit to a deep sense of self-loathing.

One worry surfaces often in conversation: What do my past or current struggles with pornography say about me as a man? Can I ever move past this and have a meaningful and fulfilling relationship?

I want to address this question just briefly, since I’ve encountered it so many times.

First, however, I’ve written before how I at times dislike the language of “struggling” with pornography or pornography “addiction,” not because they aren’t accurate but because too often they are used as an excuse rather than an explanation. It is true, many do in fact “struggle” with what can legitimately be considered an addiction, but when this language is used to describe an interminable battle with no end (and I’ve met dozens of men for whom this is the case), then I prefer we use terminology like “fighting my porn habit.” A semantic debate, certainly, but one I think is important. We need to stop struggling with porn and start fighting it.

Secondly, pornography does do devastating things to one’s sense of masculinity. We know this. Pornography enslaves men by the millions, perverting their role as protector and defender of the more vulnerable and turning them into sexual cannibals, consuming those they see on-screen to satisfy their sexual appetites.

What often starts as mere curiosity or an accidental encounter can turn into something that invades the mind and twists even the most basic attractions. I’ve met porn users who can’t believe the types of things they want to watch. They haven’t simply been using porn. Porn has actively reshaped them into something they don’t recognize and don’t like. 

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Porn is this generation’s great assault on masculinity and the role of men in society. It is essential that we win this battle for the sake of society’s survival. Contrary to what the gender-bending and family-morphing progressive elites claim, good husbands and good fathers and good church leaders are necessary for a healthy society. But pornography is destroying marriages, creating distant and disconnected fathers, and, metaphoricaclly castrating men, hindering their ability and desire to make a positive difference in the society around us.

So, with this sobering set of facts in mind let’s return to the question: what do pornography struggles, past and present, say about a man?

The proper way to respond is with everything that is good about masculinity. We have to fight pornography as men have fought countless evils throughout the ages. We need to fight pornography to protect women, and wives, and children, and our society at large. This is how pornography threatens society, by castrating men, and turning them from protectors into predators. Rooting out the evil in our own lives allows us to better fulfill the role we are called to perform in the lives of others. Battling our own demons enables us to battle the wider cultural demons. Every day without porn is another bit of virtue built. Virtue is not something you’re born with. Virtues are habits that you build. And one day without porn is the first step towards the virtue of being porn-free.

Many men ask me if men who have had past porn addictions are cut out for being in a relationship or working in the pro-life movement or in other areas where we are called to protect and defend the weak and vulnerable. And the answer to that is an unequivocal yes. Our society needs men who know what it means to fight battles and win. Our society needs men who can say that they fought porn and they beat porn, because their families and their friends were too important to risk. Our society needs men who rose to the challenge that the evils of their generation threw at them, and became better men as the result. And our society needs men who can help their friends and their sons and those around them fight the plague of pornography and free themselves from it, too—and who can understand better and offer encouragement more relevant than someone who has fought and been freed themselves?

So the answer to men is yes. Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting. Lend them support and encouragement. We cannot change the fact that porn has left an enormous path of destruction in its wake. But we can change the fact that too many people aren’t fighting it. We can change our own involvement. And we can rise to the challenge and face this threat to masculinity with all that is good about masculinity.

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Red Alert!

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By John-Henry Westen

I don’t like having to do this, but we have always found it best to be totally upfront with our readers: our Spring fundraising campaign is now worrying us! 

You see, with just 6 days remaining, we have only raised 30% of our goal, with $125,000 still left to raise. That is a long ways to go yet.

We have no choice but to reach our minimum goal of $175,000 if we are going to be able to continue serving the 5+ million readers who rely on us every month for investigative and groundbreaking news reports on life, faith and family issues.

Every year, LifeSite readership continues to grow by leaps and bounds. This year, we are again experiencing record-breaking interest, with over 6 million people visiting our website last month alone!

This unprecedented growth in turn creates its own demand for increased staff and resources, as we struggle to serve these millions of new readers.

And especially keep this in mind. As many more people read LifeSite, our mission of bringing about cultural change gets boosted. Our ultimate goal has always been to educate and activate the public to take well-informed, needed actions.

Another upside to our huge growth in readers is that it should be that much easier to reach our goal. To put it simply: if each person who read this one email donated whatever they could (even just $10) we would easily surpass our goal! 

Today, I hope you will join the many heroes who keep this ship afloat, and enable us to proclaim the truth through our reporting to tens of millions of people every year!

Your donations to LifeSite cause major things to happen! We see that every day and it is very exciting. Please join with us in making a cultural impact with a donation of ANY AMOUNT right now. 

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