Sri Lankan bishops oppose the legalisation of abortion
by Melani Manel Perera

The Government of Sri Lanka approved the new law, which authorises abortion under two conditions: rape and serious deformities. Since the beginning of the year, 240,000 illegal abortions have been performed in the country.

Colombo (AsiaNews) – The Catholic Bishops' Conference of Sri Lanka (CBCSL) has condemned the new abortion law approved by Parliament and opposes every circumstance that "justifies" the suppression of a human life.

Last week the cabinet of President Maithripala Sirisena approved a draft bill to legalise abortion under two conditions: in case of rape and when the fetus has serious deformities. Conversely, the bishops say "no abortion in any case".

In their statement, signed by CBCSL President Mgr Winston S Fernando and CBCSL Secretary Mgr Valence Mendis and released on the day the new law was approved, the bishops say, “We the CBCSL strongly condemn any effort to legalise abortion in any form whatsoever.”

“Justice,” the press release goes on to say, “should not be compromised on any account, especially when it is the question of safeguarding the right to life of the unborn child. One can not safeguard one's rights at the expense of violating another's right”.

The issue has divided Sri Lankans. Women's organisations maintain that "abortion should be legalised". Conversely, Catholics argue that a human life must be respected from the moment of conception.

Dr Kapila Jayarathna believes that "one should consider the mental suffering of a woman who is a victim of sexual violence and the mental suffering of parents who face the birth of a child with deformity".

According to a survey by the University of Kelaniya, 650 abortions were performed daily in Sri Lanka last year.

Prof K. Karunatilake, professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Kelaniya, reports that "since the beginning of the year there have been about 240,00 illegal abortions. Compared to previous data, this has increased.”