EASTERN CAPE, SOUTH AFRICA — Abortion advocacy groups in the U.S. and around the world are praising the legacy of the late former South African President Nelson Mandela for his role in legalizing abortion in the country.
Mandela, a Nobel Peace Prize winner known for his work to end apartheid, passed away on Thursday at the age of 95 after a prolonged battle with a lung infection.
“Today, we’re honoring the incredible life of a true champion for social justice, equality, and peace,” Planned Parenthood posted on Twitter Friday morning, including a picture of Mandela wearing a ribbon lapel pin.
“It is with great sadness that we heard today about the passing of Nelson Mandela,” NARAL Pro-Choice America posted on Facebook. “Among so many other accomplishments, he replaced one of the most restrictive anti-choice laws in the world with one of the most progressive, giving women in South Africa sole control over whether to choose abortion.”
The multi-state abortion enterprise Whole Woman’s Health posted a similar message on Twitter.
“Among his many humanitarian legacies, Nelson Mandela passed one of the most liberal #abortion laws in the world,” it wrote.
In 1996, Mandela signed into law the Choice on Termination Pregnancy Bill, which allowed for abortion on demand up to the twelfth week of pregnancy, and permitted pregnancy terminations under certain circumstances for up to 20 weeks. Prior to the signing of the bill, the 1975 Abortion and Sterilization Act was the law of the land, which banned abortion except in the instances of rape, incest, life of mother or severe handicap.
In 1998, a group of Christian attorneys sought to challenge the legislation, stating that it trampled on the right to life. However, the Transvaal Provincial Division of the High Court upheld the law, ruling that constitutional rights applied only to the born and not the unborn.
Reports state that over 1 million babies have been aborted in South Africa since Mandela signed the Choice on Termination Pregnancy Bill into law.
As a result, some pro-life leaders found it difficult to laud the former South African leader this week, although they were sad to hear of his death.
“Nelson Mandela has the blood of preborn children on his hands … lots of them,” wrote blogger Jill Stanek on Saturday. “[E]ven if he were an otherwise all-around hero, I wouldn’t be able to bring myself to say a positive word to say about him other than, ‘I pray he repented.’”
‘[I]t makes no sense for pro-life Christians to praise Mandela’s example considering what he did with that power once he became president,” wrote Paul Tuns, editor of the Canadian pro-life publication The Interim. “A little balance is necessary in our reaction to the man who fought one injustice, but helped institute another.”
“Nelson Mandela certainly was not a friend to the unborn or to the people he claimed to protect,” wrote the organization Keep Life Legal. “[W]hat about apartheid in the womb? … I sincerely hope that Mr. Mandela found the Lord before his death, but be very aware he did not protect unborn life, even of the people he claimed to protect.”
Funeral services are now being planned for Mandela, which according to Clayson Monyela of Department of International Relations and Cooperation, “will be the biggest funeral, possibly, that the world has seen…”
Photo: South Africa The Good News