Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s support of abortion and his endorsement of the work of the Marie Stopes Clinic (a chain of abortion clinics) will be discussed at the Anglican Diocesan Synod in Port Elizabeth next week.
The pro-abortion-on-request stance of the former leader of the Anglican Church of South Africa is cited as a matter of concern in one of the motions that will be debated at the Synod, which is the highest decision making body of the Anglican Church in Port Elizabeth.
The full wording of the motion proposed by Reverend Lawrie Wilmot, reads:
“Reaffirming the Resolution passed at its Synod of 1995 which rejected the practice of abortion on request as murder;
And noting with deep concern that the Archbishop Emeritus, Desmond Tutu has put his name to supporting the practice of abortion on request conducted at the Marie Stopes Clinic in Cape Town;
“And noting further that his statement of approval and support, together with a photo of him in his Bishop’s robes was displayed on a poster in the foyer of the abovenamed clinic;
(a) that this Synod decides on an appropriate response, to the end that it publicly disassociates itself from the implied Anglican approval that the Archbishop Emeritus has given to this murderous practice;
(b) to call on Archbishop Thabo Makgoba and the House of Bishops, on behalf of the ACSA, to do likewise.”
At a Synod in 1995, Wilmot proposed a resolution condemning abortion as murder, which was unanimously approved. In 1997, despite nationwide protests and thousands of petitions against it, abortion on request was made legal: The Termination of Pregnancy Act entered South Africa’s statute books.
“In view of the Archbishop’s statement, which implies that his pro-choice stance has the support of the entire Anglican Church in Southern Africa, the PE Diocese must next week formulate an official response to it, in order not to be compromised in its witness to the sanctity of life and the protection of the innocent, both of which are Biblical mandates,” says Wilmot.
Tutu, a Nobel Laureate who is internationally admired as a defender of human rights and who has been awarded well over 100 honorary doctorates around the world, has been criticised by pro-life activists in various parts of the world.
In December last year a pro-life activist in Cape Town, Peter Throp , who prays outside Marie Stopes abortion clinic in Central Cape Town at the start of each working day, snapped photographs of Tutu’s face and personal endorsement message on a billboard in the clinic. Throp said he felt like he had been hit by a train when he first saw the billboard. The billboard, headed “Choice, Not Chance” carried 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”
On Monday (May 13), Tutu, 80, received another honorary doctorate at a graduation ceremony in Spokane, Washington in the United States. About 11 000 people attended the event at which Tutu, as the commencement speaker, urged about 1 147 bachelor degree students to dream of a world without war, poverty, racism and other injustices. Prior to the event, more than 700 students, faculty, staff and alumni criticized his support for gay marriage and abortion rights and signed a petition urging the university to reconsider its decision.