A delegation of Anglican clergy has been appointed to interview Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu about a “report in the media that suggests” that he “has given his support to a clinic that offers abortion on request”.
The decision follows a resolution by the Anglican Diocesan Synod in Port Elizabeth on Saturday, to send a delegation to Tutu for his comment on the report which was published in Gateway News on December 14, 2011. The three-yearly Synod met at The St John The Baptist Church, in Walmer, last week, to deal with various church-related matters.
Tutu’s reported endorsement of Marie Stopes Clinic (a chain of abortion clinics) was brought to the attention of the Synod in a motion tabled by Reverend Lawrie Wilmot, in which he proposed that the Synod should publicly disassociate itself from the implied Anglican approval that Tutu had given to the practice of abortion on request. He also proposed that the Synod should reaffirm its 2005 resolution that abortion on request was murder.
Wilmot and Arch-Deacon David Stansbury, who seconded the motion, both emphasised that while they personally respected Tutu they believed it was important for the Synod to distance itself from his stance on abortion. Wilmot showed the Synod a photograph of a billboard that had been taken in the Marie Stopes Clinic in central Cape Town. The billboard featured a photograph of Tutu below the clinic’s slogan “Choice, Not Chance”. It also displayed the following message: “Marie Stopes South Africa is doing invaluable work. Through their programmes they are raising awareness and understanding of sexual and reproductive health. They are empowering people and by providing information and access to sustainable high quality services that are giving people the opportunity to make informed decisions about their future and a choice. –Signed Archbishop Desmond Tutu”
Wilmot said a public relations representative of the clinic had told him that the billboard had been used exclusively at a Marie Stopes strategic planning meeting last year. He said that he had not been able to get comment from Tutu on the billboard issue.
During debate on the motion various speakers expressed high regard for Tutu, and said they were reluctant to support the motion without first hearing the views of the former head of the Anglican Church in South Africa on his reported support for Marie Stopes.
The Synod finally voted in favour of an amended motion which reads: “The Synod takes note of a report in the media that suggests that the Archbishop Emeritus, Desmond Tutu, has given his support to a clinic that offers abortion on request
- To confirm the resolution passed at its Synod in 1995, relating to our Diocese’s stand on abortion and sanctity of life.
- Respectfully to request the Bishop to send a delegation to the Archbishop Emeritus, Desmond Tutu, for his comment on the report.”
Wilmot confirmed in an interview that he is a member of the delegation that has been appointed to interview Tutu.