RI Bishop: Mandela’s ‘Noble Defense of Human Dignity’ Didn’t Include ‘Unborn Children’

By Barbara Boland | December 12, 2013 | 4:59 PM EST

Bishop Thomas Tobin, bishop for the Catholic diocese of Providence, RI. (AP)

(CNSNews.com) – Nelson Mandela, the celebrated former president of South Africa who showed the resilience of the human will in the face of prolonged persecution, regrettably did not his extend his “noble defense of human dignity” to the “youngest members of our human family, unborn children,” said Rev. Thomas J. Tobin, bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence, R.I.

In a statement on Mandela’s death (Dec. 5), Bishop Tobin praised the former political prisoner who helped defeat Apartheid in South Africa and became its president from 1994 to 1999.

However, “[w]hile we pray for the peaceful repose of President Mandela’s immortal soul and the forgiveness of his sins, we can only regret that his noble defense of human dignity did not include the youngest members of our human family, unborn children,” said Bishop Tobin.

The bishop said all was not praiseworth in Mandela’s legacy, “namely his shameful promotion of abortion in South Africa.”

“In 1996, Mandela promoted and signed into law the ‘Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Bill’ that, according to the New York Times, ‘replaced one of the world’s toughest abortion laws with one of the most liberal,’” said Bishop Tobin.

As the New York Times explained in that 1996 article, “The bill will cancel an existing law allowing abortion only in the case of rape, incest or immediate danger to the mother's mental or physical health. Under the new law, women and girls will be entitled to a state-financed abortion on demand during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy if they have no private medical insurance, and, subject to widely defined conditions, for a further eight weeks.”

Nelson Mandela (1918-2013), the former president of South Africa (1994-99) who helped defeat the Apartheid in the country. (AP)

In contrast to Bp. Tobin, NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue lauded Mandela's support of the pro-abortion bill, saying it "replaced one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the world with one of the most liberal and humane—allows South African women full autonomy to decide when to terminate a pregnancy in the first trimester, complete with financial assistance if required. (Abortion is also allowed within widely defined exceptions in the second trimester.) With this act, President Nelson Mandela transformed the lives of millions of South African women."

According to the Christian Post, more than 1 million babies have been killed by abortion since the Choice on Termination Pregnancy Bill was signed into law by Mandela.

Alveda King, the niece of former civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., said she regretted that she did not do enough to reach out and speak with Mandela about the evils of abortion. She said he did great work, “He confronted apartheid, a serious evil during his lifetime.,” but “[h]e did some things that were not good. And we pray that he had an opportunity to meet his Maker before he left the planet and that he was able to reconcile those differences.”

Pro-life leader Jill Stanek said, “Nelson Mandela has the blood of preborn children on his hand -- lots of them. ... 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.

Others are noting additional blemishes on Mandela’s record, but even 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.”