01/16/2008, 00.00
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Caritas against the “unacceptable massacre” caused by abortion in Sri Lanka

by Melani Manel Perera
The Catholic organisation is committed to raise awareness among women about abortion techniques and its traumatic consequences. Every year some 250,000 abortions are performed in the former Ceylon, mostly by married women. "Limited understanding of the issue” is one its causes.

Anuradhapura (AsiaNews) – About 700 abortions are carried out every day in Sri Lanka for an annual total of 250,000. The country’s Caritas and other religious organisations are in the forefront of the fight against “this unacceptable massacre.” By means of different programmes and initiatives the former is trying to raise awareness among women with regards to abortion and alternative ways to prevent it.

A meeting held yesterday in Minneria in the diocese of Anuradhapura is one example. Centred on the theme “Protect life, eradicate abortion,” the gathering saw the participation of 175 women as well as Fr Damian Fernando, Omi and gynecologist, Fr Paris Jayamaha, head of the local Caritas chapter, and Sister Kathleen Fleming, head of the organisation’s women’s desk.

In his address Father Fernando said that the main reasons for abortions are “ignorance, a wrong sex life and limited understanding of the issue.”

About 94 per cent of all abortions involve married women whilst 4 per cent involve students. In his presentation the priest noted that “20 per cent of women who end their pregnancy do so because they believe their family is complete with two children. Another 10 per cent is made up of migrant workers who arrive in Sri Lanka already pregnant and 27 per cent face social problems.” Turning to abortion’s psychological consequences Father Fernando explained that for women they are an “unacceptable experience.”

Sisil Oscar, a Methodist brother, and Rathanajothi Thero, a Buddhist monk, were also present at the event. Both expressed their appreciation for the Caritas initiative. “It is very important to raise awareness among women about the dark side of abortion, the techniques used and its psychological consequences as well as explain with clarity that it is murder.”

Some young mothers from Anuradhapura expressed their gratitude to Caritas. One, 28-year-old Rani Somalatha, said: “We know much more about the issue and shall start to fight abortion by talking about it with our friends and relatives.”

More anti-abortion meetings are set to take place in other dioceses. As coordinator of the Caritas Women’s Desk, Sister Kathleen Fleming appealed to everyone to “protect life.” She noted that throughout the country the Church runs shelters for unwanted children where they can be provided with care without having to kill them.

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