Columnist stirs controversy in Uganda by calling for legalization of abortion


A columnist for a Ugandan newspaper has called on the government of the East African country to ignore the Catholic Church’s views and get on with the business of legalizing abortion.

In his weekly column, Roving Eye, published in the Sept. 23 edition of the Kampala-based newspaper The Monitor, Kevin O’Connor attempts to discredit the Church’s teachings on the dignity of life and makes outrageous comments about Church leadership. Interestingly, O’Connor presents the same utilitarian arguments that the US heard as it considered whether or not to legalize abortion.

O’Connor cites statistics from a study conducted by the U.S.-based Guttmacher Institute. The study indicates that about 1,200 Ugandan women die yearly as the result of unsafe abortions, either performed by women themselves or by unqualified people for profit. Another 65,000 women who have had abortions suffer complications that require medical care but they do not get treatment in a medical facility.

“Do not expect to get any sensible guidance on these issues from the anti-abortion Catholic Church,” O’Connor writes. “But, then again, the history of the Catholic Church is littered with wrongdoing and misdeeds.”

“And talking of genocide, surely the anti-contraception, anti-condom stance of the Catholic Church, at a time of the HIV/AIDS pandemic and of unwanted children being born into already large families, is itself, akin to genocide,” he reasons.

“I hope the various Popes and cardinals, who have been responsible for this doctrinal nonsense, burn in hell,” he writes.

He concludes lamenting: “From our religious friends, we hear far too much about the rights of the unborn fetus, and not nearly enough about the rights of living Ugandan women.” On Sunday the Vice President of Uganda stated that he is against abortion and homosexuality and that he will oppose any initiative to legalize them in Uganda, reports.

O’Connor’s diatribe comes after the Catholic Bishops of Uganda have spoken out against abortion in a January 2006 statement. The bishops said that, “Abortion, regardless of the reasons leading to it, is always an attack on the weakest and the most defenceless members of our society. We are obliged to put this point strongly before our fellow countrymen: abortion…is always an objective evil. No legislation can change it into something good.”

The Vice President of Uganda, Gilbert Bukenya, has also spoken out against abortion and homosexuality, saying, "The practice might be legal in some western countries, but we cannot adopt it here because our cultural norms are different."

"As a member of Parliament, I will definitely oppose any proposal to adopt such abnormal and immoral practices," he said.

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