Magazine article The Christian Century

As Mandela Is Mourned, Abortion Foes Protest

Magazine article The Christian Century

As Mandela Is Mourned, Abortion Foes Protest

Article excerpt

As world leaders and ordinary citizens gathered in a South African sports stadium on December 10 to remember Nelson Mandela, abortion foes pushed a message that went against the global outpouring of praise: the antiapartheid leader, they argued, backed a sweeping abortion rights law that negates any good he achieved.

"I cannot get past this and cannot view Mandela as any other than a leader who engaged in mass genocide of his own innocent people," Jill Stanek, a prominent abortion opponent, wrote on her blog at

"Nelson Mandela was no saint," wrote Paul Tuns, editor of The Interim, an antiabortion paper in Canada. "My concern is with pro-lifers and Christians joining in the praise," he added.

Abortion opponents began blogging and tweeting their objections, often in blistering tones, almost as soon as Mandela died on December 5. Their message was analogous to objections many conservatives raised over Mandela's past affiliation with the Communist Party and his role in what they said was a "terrorist" movement to end whites-only rule of South Africa.

But the antiabortion objections grew when Catholic leaders joined in the chorus of praise for Mandela. Pope Francis lauded Mandela for "promoting the human dignity of all the nation's citizens and for forging a new South Africa built on the firm foundations of nonviolence, reconciliation and truth." He prayed Mandela's example "will inspire generations of South Africans."

Francis also sent a high-ranking Vatican official, Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana, as his personal representative to the memorial. …

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