The Catholic Church has warned against the compounding of the trauma of some of the recently rescued women from the Boko Haram enclave through the abortion of their pregnancies as a result of rape and forced mating of the victims by some members of the terrorist group.
The position of the Church was made known at a press conference addressed in Abuja recently, by the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) Health Committee Chairman, Most Rev. Anselm Umoren, the Auxiliary Bishop of Abuja Archdiocese.
The Church noted that the current flurry of debates over the most appropriate line of action to manage and rehabilitate some of the rescued women who were pregnant and condemned in strong terms “some misguided actions being canvassed by a cross section of persons and groups to the effect that mass abortion should be performed for the women!”
Reiterating the position of the Church on the issue of abortion, Bishop Umoren stated that the Church cannot be persuaded by the shallow arguments being promoted by some individuals or groups in this perspective as this will amount to repaying violence with even more vicious violence.
His words: “Specifically, it is not tenable the suggestion that killing the babies conceived through rape by the terrorists is the most humane action to take in this instance. Since the babies are ignorant and innocent of the crimes (aggression, sexual assault, dehumanization) against their mothers, it is unethical to punish them for the sins and offences of their erring fathers.” The bishop continued: “How can we accept to visit with capital punishment (death sentence by abortion) on young Nigerians simply because their fathers were misguided religious and ideological bigots?”
Pointing out that the life of each baby is distinct, different and unique from that of the parents and requires the maternal love of their mothers, Bishop Umoren declared: “The trauma of sexual assault and rape is enormous, and the Catholic Church in Nigeria in cooperation with all people of goodwill is ever prepared to provide every measure of support to accelerate the healing, rehabilitation and resettlement of the victims so that they can swiftly be reintegrated into the society.”
While commending the supportive care of government agencies and other organizations like Catholic Caritas Foundation of Nigeria (CCFN), for these rescued women and girls, Bishop Umoren called for a more coordinated and robust effort in this respect. He also advocated the establishment of crisis pregnancy management centers to help Nigerians who may stand in need of similar help anywhere in the country; while rescued children could be the unborn babies presented to humane families for adoption.
Bishop Umoren, on behalf of the Catholic Bishops commiserated with the affected women and urged them “to keep faith in God Almighty who has given them the uncommon strength to face the trials and travails. He added: “… we pray for them and urge them to take solace and draw encouragement from the comfort that God has a purpose in their motherhood role for the innocent babies they now carry in their wombs.”