"In almost the entire continent, ending a pregnancy without some extenuating circumstances is illegal. Ethiopia recently liberalized its law, but performing a routine abortion remains a criminal act, punishable by up to three years in prison. Pressure from anti-abortion activists purportedly trained in the United States blocked efforts at further liberalization. A ban on the books is one thing. Reality is another. Women determined to end their pregnancies will find a way, sometimes with devastating consequences ..."
Abortion is a sensitive and politically-charged issue. In the US it is tinged by race and political ideology. In a recent interview with Pastor Rick Warren, the responses of the two presidential nominees, Obama and McCain, is instructive.
In Ethiopia, however, the boundaries regarding life matters is pretty much clearly defined [marriage is between male and female; terminating life is wrong, etc.] Looked at from this vantage point, there seems to be a complete agreement with pro-life groups in the US.
Though we agree with the above standards as mandated by Holy Scripture, our fear is that Ethiopia (and Africa) may be turned into the battleground for agendas of US pro-life/pro-choice groups. These are the same groups who have little to show for when it comes to human rights abuses brought about by bad and destructive government policies. The same prefer to take a simplistic, piecemeal, and individualized approach to social problems instead of also addressing the underlying factors. Hence, adoption is the answer to abortion, emergency food aid to poverty, etc (in the process of which a bunch of money is made.)
One thing that has emerged in Ethiopia in the past three decades is the fact that social safety nets have been greatly eroded. The Socialist experiment [1974-1991] methodically tore down the family unit without providing a viable alternative. The ethnic ideology that followed created social distance between social units as a result of unduly focusing on separateness instead of on shared values. Both aimed at control, mindless of the longterm consequences of those policies.
In an earlier post [October 24] we cited a Gallup poll that showed religious institutions in Ethiopia are at present the only entity that garner a significant percentage of public trust; indeed, the reason why the nation has not disintegrated is because of the enduring qualities of these institutions. In light of this, we must ponder the following questions:
How could churches in Ethiopia minimize the role of pro-life/pro-choice groups in North Carolina from defining local agenda and imposing their individualistic values? We believe individual identity and social significance is encased in and nurtured by the community. I am my brother's/sister's keeper. I belong, therefore I am. Have Ethiopian churches developed a comprehensive outlook on hot-button issues with an eye on reviving time-tested and culturally useful mechanisms? We believe the fiercest battle to be joined is in the area of culture. We also believe culture is the creation of humans and that the Creator of all humans transcends those limitations to accord grace and wisdom to those who ask for it.