…. Urge lawmakers to do so with urgency
The Catholic Bishops Conference of Liberia has called on the Liberian Government and senators to remove the abortion section from the Public Health Bill.
The Public Health Bill, which includes the extreme abortion section, is currently under consideration by the Liberian Senate.
The statement released by the Catholic Bishops Conference of Liberia (CABICOL) adds to the mounting pressure the Liberian Government is facing to remove a section of the Public Health Bill that is estimated to lead to 40,000 babies being aborted in Liberia each year.
Senators have been flooded with correspondence from members of the public expressing concern about the proposed radical change to abortion legislation in Liberia, according to StopAbortionLiberia.com, a website run by Bishop Kortu K. Brown, former president of the Liberia Council of Churches.
Under Liberia’s current law, abortion is allowed in exceptional circumstances, including where the mother’s life is at risk; the event of rape, incest or felonious intercourse; and disability of the fetus. These are rare situations.
The abortion section in the Public Health Bill would repeal Liberia’s current abortion law and replace it with a law that allows abortion, for any reason, on demand, up to when the baby in the womb reaches 14 weeks gestation.
It has been estimated that this change from allowing abortion in exceptional circumstances to allowing abortion on demand would lead to the lives of 40,000 babies being lost to abortion in Liberia every single year. This is a conservative estimate, the actual number could be much higher. A report by the Clinton Health Access Initiative and partners recorded more than 38,000 illegal abortions in Liberia for the year 2021.
Based on these estimates, if this law change is made, the figure could exceed 400,000 innocent lives being lost to abortion over the next ten years in Liberia. Senators can avoid this mass loss of life now by removing this extreme abortion section from the Public Health Bill.
Most African countries prohibit abortion except in extreme circumstances, such as threat to the life of the mother; rape or incest; and fetal disability. Most countries in the world likewise prohibit abortion except in extreme circumstances. Only a minority of countries allow abortion on demand.
The statement in full from the Catholic Bishops Conference of Liberia reads:
We, the Catholic Bishops of Liberia, express our grave concern and strong opposition to the abortion section of the Public Health Bill that is currently before the Senate.
We urge the Government of Liberia, particularly our lawmakers to remove this section in the bill that would lead to the international murder of innocent and defenseless lives in Liberia through abortion. The commandment of God is unequivocal: THOU SHALL NOT KILL. (Exodus 20:13)
We also urge Catholics and all men and women of goodwill throughout Liberia to speak to their lawmakers and appeal to them to not support the abortion section in the Public Health Bill.
We remind our Catholic lawmakers that they have a grave and clear obligation to oppose any law that attacks human life, as intentionally stated in the abortion section of the Public Health Bill. Besides, every Catholic is morally bound in conscience to defend the basic right to life from conception to natural death. (Congregation for the doctrine of the Faith, Doctrinal Note on Some Questions Regarding the Participation of Catholics in Public Life 2002, no. 4). We therefore call on each Catholic lawmaker to reflect on their spiritual well-being and the grave consequences of their inaction to defend innocent human life.
We remind our lawmakers of their duty to promote the common good and to protect the most vulnerable members of our society, which includes the thousands of unborn children who will have their lives ended if the proposed law change outlined in the abortion section of the Public Health Bill is not removed.
We also acknowledge that there are many women who face difficult and challenging situations due to poverty, violence, lack of education and inadequate health care. We sympathize with their suffering and offer them our pastoral care and support.
We call on our lawmakers to address the root causes that lead to women seeking abortion by providing better support and social protection for women who are pregnant. We believe that these are the true solutions that will uphold the dignity and rights of both the mother and the child.
Women should be offered real support when facing a crisis pregnancy, rather than the solution offered being the death of their child through abortion.
We urge our lawmakers to respect the will of the majority of Liberians who value life and family. We pray that they will have the courage and wisdom to uphold the sanctity of life in our nation and remove the abortion section from the Public Health Bill.