01/15/2008, 00.00
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Hồ Chí Minh City Catholics against abortion

Local sources say the number of abortions is greater than the number of births. Abortions are done to maintain incomes or out of fear for one’s reputation. Redemptorist Fathers pray for those who abort “out of cowardice” and those who fight for life. They have set up a centre that takes in unmarried pregnant women.

Hồ Chí Minh City (AsiaNews/UCAN) – In a Hồ Chí Minh City suburb Redemptorist Fathers celebrated a Mass on December 28, Holy Innocents' Day, dedicated to praying for those who abort out of “cowardice.” About 30 unmarried pregnant women from a Redemptorist-run home and people from a pro-life group took part in the function.

Co-celebrant Fr Joseph Le Quang Uy urged those present to pray “for those who abort out of cowardice” because they are concerned that “children will affect their income and work” and “their reputation among neighbours” if the latter are born out of wedlock. Sadly too often so parents drive away pregnant unmarried daughters or ask them to abort.”

For him abortion is a crime against humanity. For this reason pro-life activists must be supported through prayers that they may be able to convince women who want to abort not to do so. By contrast, “aborted children do not need our prayers because they become angels,” Father Uy said.

Redemptorists founded a pro-life group in 2005 whose members visit pregnant women seeking abortions at state-run hospitals and health-care centres and encourage them not to do it.

Martha Hoàng Thị Hoa, 29, told UCA News that in order to bring her pregnancy to term she had to leave her paternal home. She works for a local garment company and earns a million dong (US$ 62.5) a month, not enough for her needs and those of her son, so she plans to collect used items to make money.

“My father, a parish council member, is a straight-laced man, so he never accepted my unwanted pregnancy,” she said.

At the shelter where she is staying women have to leave two months after they give birth so that other pregnant women can take their place.

Marie Nguyễn Thị My, 22, is a college student from Vinh City, in northern Vietnam. She decided not to abort after talking to a priest. “I will protect the child God gives me,” she said.

My, who is seven-month pregnant, still prays for her boyfriend to return to her so that their son might have both parents to raise him.

Another woman, who is six-month pregnant, said the more than 1,000 cement containers hold the ashes of aborted foetuses the Redemptorists have cremated. Members of the pro-life group the former founded collect around 50 to 200 aborted foetuses every day from hospitals and clinics in the city for a decent disposal. A Redemptorist father said that each 10-by-10-by-30-centimetre container can hold the ashes of some 50 to 70 aborted foetuses. Hundreds of the containers are kept in the chapel's sanctuary.

According to the Hồ Chí Minh City-based Center for Protection of Health of Mothers and Children and Family Planning, more than 100,000 abortions take place in the city each year and that, in recent years, abortions outnumbered births. According to its own data, there were 114,002 abortions and 112,426 births in 2003 compared to 108,193 abortions and 107,314 births in 2004.

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