By: David Gross – Columnist
On Dec. 5, 2013, anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela passed away.
On Sept. 17 of this year, the University of Dayton held a Culture Fest celebrating diversity on campus. The celebration included a tribute to Mandela, South Africa’s first black president.
Although I had to leave before the tribute due to a conflict, I probably would not have attended the tribute because some of Mandela’s policies were at odds with some of the Catholic Church’s teachings on morality, including teachings on abortion.
In 1996 President Mandela signed the Choice of Termination of Pregnancy Act (CTPA), one of the most liberal abortion laws that exists in the world today. This law permits abortion on demand up to the 12th week of pregnancy.
CTPA also allows abortion between the 13th and 20th weeks for the physical or mental health of the mother, or, in instances of abnormalities in the baby, rape or incest.
Finally, the law allows for abortions after 20 weeks if the life of the woman or baby is in danger.
Previous to this law, abortion was only legal in cases of rape, incest or grave danger to the mother’s health.
Some of you may be surprised to read about Mandela’s policy on abortion. The media has principally focused on his positive attributes. Granted, the philanthropist did much good while fighting apartheid in South Africa.
But however praiseworthy his record is, we should look at Mandela, as with all leaders, in his entirety. Mandela helped end one injustice in his country and accelerated another injustice: killing the unborn. Since CTPA commenced in 1997, more than one million babies have been lost to abortion in South Africa.
Mandela has received much global praise since his death in late 2013, including that from Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, Pope Francis and prominent American politicians.
Understandably, UD wanted to pay its respects to the civil rights leader. The university honored him for the good he did, not the bad.
The Catholic Church, however, definitively teaches that abortion is immoral. Given that the University of Dayton is a Catholic institution, the question arises as to whether this presentation was right for UD.
I do not know the answer to this question, or if there even is a clear answer; only God knows.
Nevertheless, the issue teaches us to not forget our values when remembering leaders, for the good or the bad.