The Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference have issued a strong protest at "the further erosion of the unsurpassable value of life" - following a Pretoria High Court judgement which means that girls under 18 may obtain an abortion without their parents knowledge. The Bishops' Conference said it continues to object strongly against that part of the Constitution that treats life as if it were "simple biological material to be freely disposed of". Reiterating the position of the Catholic Church with regard to abortion, the Bishops said they wish to state that: "procured abortion is the deliberate and direct killing of a human being at any time between conception and birth. The act is totally, and absolutely unacceptable. Killing an innocent human being is always gravely immoral." In a statement they said: "The Pretoria High Court judgement represents a further assault on the incomparable value of life. We live in a South Africa where God's injunction "Thou shalt not kill" is being totally and deliberately ignored with regard to abortion. The Pretoria judgement, by extending the "right" to terminate pregnancy to females under 18 years of age, shifts the burden of responsibility to younger women as well. This judgement will lead to the weakening of individual consciences, especially of those of young people whose conscience formation is at a critical stage. "The judgement will also seriously undermine the moral fibre of society. While South Africa speaks of a moral renewal of society, it strenuously seeks to exclude sexual morality and private lifestyles of people. Such an approach is doomed to reap the whirlwind. The judgement, we maintain, is a direct assault on the value of family as sanctuary of life. And we cannot rule out the question of complicity in the evil of abortion with regard to those who make such laws or those who encourage sexual permissiveness and ignore the esteem for motherhood" Issued by Archbishop Buti Tlhagale, Bishop of Johannesburg and spokesperson of the SACBC.
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