by ROWENA OREJANA
TAURANGA — The Tauranga Ministers Association has run a full-page newspaper advertisement to publicise its opposition to proposals to decriminalise abortion.
In a full page in local newspaper Bay News on August 14, 31 ministers and priests of various Christian churches in Tauranga pledged support for mothers and partners, even if an abortion is
carried out. They stressed that the termination of pregnancy is not a health issue but a human rights one.
Tauranga Ministers Association chair Jeremy Denmead said they decided to run the advertisement
because, “the Church needs to have a say in these matters, and it’s better to have a say before there’s legislation, than during or after”. Mr Denmead is the pastor and team leader of Welcome
Bay Baptist Church.
“We decided to do it before the elections because it might well weigh on some people’s minds that some political parties have this as a policy and they need to have a balanced view of
it. And sometimes these things sneak through the political process without anyone noticing,” he said.
In the ad, the ministers stated their unconditional support for both mother and unborn child, recognising the difficult choices a mother or a partner might face.
“The changes to our current law that are suggested are to take the act of abortion from the realm of the protection of the criminal law and make abortion solely a health issue. The
criminal law exists to protect people, not to make them criminals. Protection of the unborn therefore rightly falls under the aegis of the criminal law,” they said.
“If abortion were held to be solely a health issue, that would place the treatment of an unwanted pregnancy in the same category as outpatient surgery.
Further, proposed changes would allow for such treatment to take place up to 20 weeks and would legalise abortion after 20 weeks for severe foetal abnormality,” they added.
This is the second ad the group has taken out. The first one was last year when a family planning clinic in Tauranga was granted a licence to conduct abortions.
“At that time, I’d just been praying and I sensed the Lord saying, ‘You do something about this’,” Mr Denmead said.
He wrote a letter and showed it to the other ministers who decided to sign the letter as well. They also got together and helped an organisation called Pregnancy Choice, which is an
op-shop and a centre established to help and counsel pregnant women considering abortion. The organisation helps women even if they go ahead with abortion.
“The whole position is, we are not condemning anyone. We just say we don’t think this is right. We support every person who has to make this difficult choice,” he explained.
The Tauranga Ministers Association represents churches from Catholic to conservative, liberal to pentecostal.
“We don’t do this sort of thing often, but where it’s going to affect the tone of our city, like having an abortion clinic, then we want the Church to be speaking up,” Mr Denmead said.