International

Catholics in India grieve abortion 50 years after legalization

India, pregnant

The Catholic Church in India observed a “Day of Mourning” on August 10 to mark 50 years since the passage of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act in 1971. according to UCANews.

“[M]illions of abortions have taken place in our country after that legislation and there is no sign of the slowing down of this anti-life trend,” said Cardinal Oswald Gracias. He noted that in 2015 alone, more than 15 million preborn children were killed by abortion in India. The majority of those abortions were likely carried out on female babies, killed specifically because they were girls, as sex-selective abortion and a preference for male children is quite common in India.

Catholics across India dedicated the day to pro-life programs and prayer, including recitation of the Divine Mercy Chaplet. A pro-life mass was offered in every Catholic parish on August 10 in memory of abortion victims, and in “reparation for the sin of abortion,” said Cardinal Gracias.

READ: 13.5 million girls killed in sex-selective abortions in India from 1987 to 2016

“We had special Eucharistic celebrations in honor of the departed souls of the unborn babies in our churches,” Father Jacob G. Palackappilly, deputy secretary-general of the Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council, said. “Our priests offered special Masses and rang the funeral bells in every church for two minutes in honor and memory of our little unborn babies who were killed in the wombs of their mothers. They too deserved a life like each one of us on this beautiful planet earth, but we did not let them see this world.”

The 1971 abortion law was amended in March 2021 to allow abortion due to pregnancy from the failure of contraception, and to expand abortion to 24 weeks for cases of rape, incest, women who are disabled, and minors with the approval of two doctors. Prior to 20 weeks, approval is needed from one doctor to undergo an abortion. Special permission from doctors can be granted to women who want to kill their babies even further along in development, right up until birth, due to a fetal diagnosis. The World Health Organization said the expansion of abortion in India would “contribute towards ending preventable maternal mortality,” although the government prioritized abortion over providing life-saving health care to pregnant women.

Though India outlawed sex-selective abortion in 1994, it remains a common practice. India is believed to have 63 million fewer women since sex-determination tests were introduced in the 1970s. Research points to an estimated 6.8 fewer female births by 2030 because of sex-selective abortion.

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