Cardinal Peter Turkson

Cardinal Peter Turkson

October 15, 2012

Programs promoting contraception and abortion in the developing world under the guise of women's health care and "reproductive rights" may have an underlying racist agenda, says Cardinal Peter Turkson.

"The program being pushed does not reflect the true situation of women in the Third World," the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace said in an interview. "It derives from a certain thinking that you deal with poverty by eliminating the poor."

Some think poverty has to do with demographics, that because populations are so high they cannot feed themselves so stopping population growth is the key to ending poverty, Turkson said. "I can think of nothing more fallacious than that."

"Since when did abortion become a health issue?" he asked. "Why not ask the Africans what they need? Why not ask the Asians what they need for women's health? It's not for people sitting here (in the West) to decide the issues for people in the developing world are abortion and contraception," he said. "These are not health issues."

The racist agenda can be seen in that population control efforts are focused on Africa and Asia, he said.

He used his own life growing up in Ghana as an example of why population control is not the answer to reducing poverty. Neither his father nor mother ever went to school. His father worked as a carpenter; his mother traded vegetables in the market.

"You can think of the income of such a family and yet they took care of 10 of us," he said.

All his siblings completed secondary school; one brother got into the technology field and works in Toronto; another worked for the United Nations in Denmark.

"What it requires is good will on the part of the parents and sacrifice," he said.

Turkson stressed the Church's social doctrine cannot be separated from concern for unborn life. In that light, he warned against Catholic development agencies getting involved in the push for abortion or contraception through the guise of improving women's lives in the development world.


When it comes to Catholic groups working under the Caritas Internationalis federation, "we cannot have a group that is Church-based which is at variance with Church teaching," he said.

People donate to Caritas groups because they see images of famished people or children who need an education, he said. If for any reason agencies collect money that goes to another purpose or ends up some other place that violates the principle of following the giver's intention.