This Open Letter was a reaction to the draft United Nations Action Plan that was to be discussed at the 1994 International Conference on Population. The Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops (African Synod) had also expressed some objections of the recommendations of the draft UN Action Plan especially when it recommended the wider use of contraception in order to end unsafe illegal abortions, and to include sterilisation and abortion as birth control methods. The Synod urged the different local Churches to lobby their Governments not to accept such measures.
The Zambian bishops first of all appreciate the positive aspects of the UN Draft Action Plan. They appreciate the Plan’s concern for sexual health. They praise all people involved in the prevention of the deadly HIV virus and those who care for the AIDS sufferers. Then they point out the aspects of the Action Plan they do not agree with. They do not agree with the use of the artificial means of regulating birth and they fear that this could include what they call “inadmissible and morally reprehensible recourse such as sterilisation and abortion.” They further state that: “abortion is destruction of existing human life and cannot be offered as a responsible tool of population policy or a permissible means of family planning.” The bishops do not agree that “better quality of life” is a supreme value which must be pursued at all cost and at the altar of which moral, spiritually and cultural values of human life must be sacrificed. They also totally reject the Plan’s intention to indiscriminately provide family planning services to the adolescents and the unmarried because this will promote licentiousness. The bishops strongly advocate the use of responsible parenthood and the use of Natural Family Planning method, which they point out, has been proven to be effective. The bishops are also not happy with the concept of the family contained in the Plan which they say is at variance with the understanding of the family as “the proper setting for the conception, birth and upbringing of children and is the cell or basic unit of society.” They disapprove of the Draft Plan’s statement: “family in all its various forms.”
The bishops appealed to the Zambian Government to be critical of the programmes that set targets for and strictly advocate population decline in developing countries. They suggest that the West can support the seeming population problem by the transfer of technology through skills training to utilise resources more efficiently; support health institutions instead of promoting and funding free abortion on demand; writing off heavy debt, and that the international community stop the sale of arms to Africa.
Rt. Rev. T.G. Mpundu, Chairman, Bishop of Mbala/Mpika