The diocese’s ‘protection group’ tries to convince mothers to carry their pregnancy to term; failing that, they bury the dead foetuses in a dignified manner. So far, volunteers have rescued over a hundred children and buried 61,000 foetuses. For one doctor, women who have an abortion suffer serious physical and psychological harm.
Hanoi (AsiaNews) – Volunteers in the Diocese of Hải Phòng struggle every day to cut the number of abortions in the provinces of Quảng Ninh and Hải Dương.
This ‘protection group’ includes some 50 seniors, young people and Catholic students, always willing to help protect life from the moment of conception.
The volunteers provide counselling (khuyên can) to mothers to convince to carry their pregnancy to term. If this does not happen, they bury the foetuses in a dignified manner.
So far, the group has rescued more than a hundred children from abortion, whilst burying some 61,000 foetuses.
Joseph N.V.D., head of the group, told AsiaNews that they receive an average of 10 to 20 foetuses per day.
"Pending burial, we keep them in storage at the Episcopal building, wrapped in white cloth inside a plastic bag placed in a freezer,” he explained. “On the last Friday of each month, the Bishop's Office celebrates the funeral for these unborn children.”
Teresa L.T.Q., the first woman to join the group, has looked for foetuses for the past 14 years. She says that she can't explain why she is drawn to this task. Perhaps it is the Buddhist concept of predestination (Cái Duyên).
"I still remember when I collected some foetuses on a rainy night in 2007. Unfortunately, the bag with the children fell but I dint not realise it for a while. It was windy, and the road was empty. I started looking for the plastic bag and, after two kilometres, I found it. To my delight, the foetuses were not damaged by water or crushed by a bicycle or car.”
It was tough initially, notes Joseph, mainly because hospitals and birthing clinics did not trust his group.
Over time, however, doctors, nurses and health workers began to believe in the work of the diocesan volunteers. To perform their task, they took short pastoral training courses, learning via video clips how to bury foetuses.
“Sometimes we would just like to drop this work,” Teresa explained. “It is depressing that so many mothers continue to end their pregnancy. Collecting foetuses is really heart-breaking for us.”
According to Dr N.T.H., who works at the Hải Phòng hospital, many reasons push young mothers to give up their children.
"They do it mostly because they are underage or do not have enough money to raise them," she said.
However, abortion takes its toll on the women’s health and future child-bearing, as well as on their psychological well-being throughout their entire life.