By Gudrun Schultz

  JOHANNESBURG, April 17, 2007 ( – African Health Ministers adopted a new proposal Friday that will increase legal abortion throughout the continent, under the policies of the controversial Maputo Protocol on the rights of women, according to a report published yesterday by the Ethiopian Herald online.

  Meeting on Easter Monday, April 9, health ministers from more than 40 African countries participated in a weeklong conference discussing health strategies for the continent under the Maputo Protocol that was “approved” by the ministers last October—ratified by just 15 of the 53-member states of the African Union, the protocol calls for all member states to implement abortion legislation.

  The official strategy approved by the health ministers on Friday included the increased promotion of abortion services.

“A wider women’s health programme should be institutionalised including broad coverage of family planning (repositioned into wider reproductive health programmes),”the document states. “Amongst other factors, …safe abortion services should be included, as far as the law allows.”

“I am sure that with our partners, both local communities as well as our development partners we shall do all we can to ensure the full implementation of the Strategy,” South African Acting Health Minister and Conference Chairman Jeff Radebe said in a statement.

  Nigeria and Uganda have voiced strong opposition to the push for legalized abortion. Dr. Philip Njemanze, chairman of the Nigerian African Anti-Abortion Coalition, has accused some international organizations of violating the Nigerian Constitution in promoting abortion. The Uganda Joint Christian Council has sought protection from Ugandan president Yoweri Mueveni and other political leaders for the country’s current laws against abortion.

“We request President Museveni and the delegation that will represent Uganda at the upcoming meeting of the African Union in Addis Abba to reject any policy that would expose Uganda in particular, and Africa as a whole, to mass murder through the legalisation of abortion,” said Uganda Joint Christian Council (UJCC) Deputy Secretary for Finance and Administration, Sylvester Arinaitwe.

  Africa’s Catholic Bishops also spoke out in against sections of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights for violating the right to life of unborn children, All Africa reported yesterday.

  His Eminence Cardinal Polycarp Pengo of Tanzania called on African leaders to reexamine certain sections of the Maputo Protocol, at a recent press briefing in Accra after a five day meeting by Catholic leaders in Africa.

“We, the Catholic Church, teach that ‘human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception. From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognized as having the rights of a person -among which is the inviolable rights of every innocent being to life,’” Cardinal Pengo said.

“We would like to draw the attention of the political leaders of Africa our strong reservations concerning some aspects of Article 14 of the Maputo Protocol that is The Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women,” Cardinal Pengo said on behalf of his colleagues.

“Much as we admire the efforts of some of the United Nations Committees…in promoting human rights issues and development in Africa, we equally denounce the unchallenged pressure they are exerting on Countries in Africa,” Cardinal Pengo said.  “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 including civil, traditional, cultural and religious from playing a part in promoting precisely the women’s rights to their health care.”

“The Church has continually affirmed since the first century that it is a moral evil for any person or agent to procure an abortion,” Bishop Pengo said adding, “This teaching has not changed and remains unchanged. That is to say, direct abortion or abortion willed either as an end or as a means is gravely contrary to the moral law.”

  As well, the bishops pointed out that abortion and infanticide have traditionally been rejected as moral evils by almost all of Africa’s native cultures, tribes and religions.

  The Metropolitan Archbishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Accra, the Most Rev. Charles Palmer-Buckle, pointed out that even the World Health Organization has admitted that abstinence programs are most effective at preventing HIV/AIDS infections, while condom use is unreliable.

“We respectfully request all the Governments of Africa to remove from the Protocol Article 14 # 1, e and 2, c and so defend our African cultural and religious values with regard to the sacredness of life, before the final ratification of the Protocol,” the Bishops said.

  Read the Africa Health Strategy: 2007-2015:

  Read the Maputo Protocol:

  See previous LifeSiteNews coverage:

  African Health Ministers Meeting April 9 to Discuss Legalizing Abortion Throughout Africa

  Ugandan Bishops Reject Right to Abortion

  Pope Benedict “Alarmed” at Global “Attacks on Life”