They’re Pro-Life in South Africa

Located at the southernmost end of the continent of Africa is the country of South Africa. Many Americans remember it for its cruel apartheid law. That all changed on April 26, 1994, when South Africa held their first democratic election, and its repressive colonial rule was relegated to history.

The demise of apartheid was certainly a positive development. However, an unintended result was that, in a rush to fill a governing void, several negative social policies have been and continue to be adopted. The result has been a considerable erosion of family life and values. Among these negative changes has been the legalization of abortion-on-demand in February of 1997. Since then, over 200,000 South African babies have died from abortion.

This has been a classic case of the government imposing its pro-death values on a vast majority of a population that opposes abortion. The fact that the abortion industry has had a difficult time finding enough doctors and nurses who will participate in the killing demonstrates this. Nevertheless, lives are still being lost at an alarming rate.

I’ve just returned from a two-week lecture tour in South Africa that included three major cities. My first stop was Cape Town. Upon arriving, I was struck by the beauty and splendor of the landscape. The beautiful beaches and rugged mountains made the lengthy plane ride a distant memory. I was even more taken by the people. Regardless of their economic status—rich, middle class or very poor—most South Africans are warm, friendly and outgoing individuals.

Pro-life panel discussion in South Africa

Brad Mattes, second from right, participates in a panel discussion with pro-life experts at a South African radio station.

My time in Cape Town was largely spent sharing information with Philip Rosenthal, a leading pro-life mover and shaker. We compared notes and traded helpful experiences. I also met with a local pro-life group and shared information and insight regarding America’s pro-life efforts.

From there I journeyed to Durban, another beautiful coastal city. I met up with good friends at the Kwasizabantu mission, located about a two-hour drive north and east of Durban. The mission is an extraordinary demonstration of Christians serving their fellow man. They minister, both physically and spiritually, to more than a thousand people a day. They also operate the second largest radio station in South Africa. While there, I participated in over three hours of discussion on several life-related issues with a panel of pro-life experts. In addition to the audience that listened, it was recorded and edited for playback on the station. The recording will also be used as a teaching tool for South African pro-life leaders and educators.

We saw, first hand, the devastation AIDS is having on the South African population. In the province of Kwa Zulu Natal, 35% of the population has contracted HIV. The disease has resulted in over 90,000 orphans. An international organization called Doctors For Life is working to feed, educate and spiritually witness to this growing and desperate group of children. I will never forget, as long as I live, the smiling faces of those orphans who were able to find happiness even though they lived in squalor.

Returning to Durban, I addressed the National Alliance for Life Conference. Their theme, “Love Them Both,” is a phrase coined by Life Issues Institute that is circulating the globe.

My schedule necessitated leaving the conference early to fly to Port Elizabeth to be a guest speaker at a local church. Addressing approximately 300 people, I shared the emotional plight faced by many fathers of aborted babies. Two men and one woman, all parents of aborted babies, came up to tearfully speak with me after the service, and I did some brief counseling. I have spoken on this topic in various locations around the world, and the painful facial expression of post-abortive men is always the same. The guilt, shame and remorse are consistently present, regardless of the cultural differences.

The next day was a rare day off and we took advantage of it by going to a game reserve. It’s exciting to see elephants, giraffes, rhinos, zebras and other wildlife in their natural environment.

The following day I had the honor of speaking at another national conference, this time to a group of women representing 65 crisis pregnancy centers throughout South Africa. In the relatively short time that abortion has been legal, they have done an impressive job of gearing up to help women facing unexpected pregnancies. I toured a few of the centers and found that they rivaled some of our best centers in America. It was interesting to see that they struggle with most of the same issues as their American counterparts. There never seems to be enough volunteers, time or money. I shared the need to assist men after abortion and was heartened by their enthusiastic response of understanding and compassion.

This was the last event on my itinerary, and I left the convention directly for the airport to return to the US. The bombing of Afghanistan had already begun and I was a little anxious to be back on American soil. Even though I faced long hours in very security-conscious airports and a 28-hour journey home, I left exhilarated and enthused that many caring people in South Africa were reaching out to assist women in crisis and offer hope and healing to men and women who have experienced abortion. It doesn’t matter how many miles separate us or the numerous cultural differences that exist between us; we are brothers and sisters who have the distinct honor of working to protect innocent human life from the abortion industry. There is great joy in our work and it shows on the faces of pro-lifers from London to Moscow, from Ontario to Cape Town, because we love the task we have been assigned.

South Africa has a population of about forty-two million. Since abortion was legalized in America during 1973, we have aborted over forty million babies, almost the entire population of South Africa. Losing every inhabitant and the culture of this wonderful country would be a tragedy beyond words. Are the deaths of nearly the same number of people in America any more acceptable? Absolutely not! It’s unlikely, however, that we can ever fathom the loss to our nation and culture because of these missing American citizens.

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