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Macau Church fights to protect life against secularist tide

Macau, China city skyline

An official of the Catholic Church in Macau says the church should fight against a secular-led wave of abortion and euthanasia in the former Portuguese colony.

In a swearing-in ceremony last week for new commission members, the diocesan commission for life's Michael Cheung made these remarks.

As a member of the Institute of Incarnate Word (IVE) congregation, Father Cheung emphasized that Macau's legal system protects individual rights, but that the Church is concerned about how citizens live out their responsibilities.

Jornal O Clarim, Macau's Portuguese-language Catholic weekly, reported the priest's comments on June 7 and the swearing-in ceremony of the diocesan life commission, which took place on May 20.

"Though human dignity is better protected in Macau than in other places, this is not true of the attitudes and practices of its citizens, and many things unreported or done in secret occur," said the priest.

Unlike mainland China, Macau does not allow abortion on request, or due to socio-economic reasons, except in cases of risk to life or health, fetal impairment, or rape.

Media reports indicate that abortion rates in the city are high, as many women and girls from China and other countries end up becoming victims of sex trafficking in the city's gaming and gambling industry. Unwanted pregnancies and abortions are a result of this phenomenon.

In 2012, 43 Macau women out of every 1,000 had an abortion, according to a study in The Lancet, a weekly peer-reviewed general medical journal. 

According to media reports, the current number of abortions is similar to the one in mainland China, where abortion has been legalized since the 1950s as a means of population control.

A recent South China Morning Post report details how Macau residents secretly obtain abortions at Gongbei, a district in Zhuhai near Macau's border with China.

According to Gongbei doctors, up to 30% of the abortions they perform are for teenagers from Macau.

The commission aims to educate people who will support keeping current legislation to restrict abortions in the city which is aimed at protecting life and human dignity, Father Cheung says.

Social circles in Macau are concerned about the increase in Macau's elderly population.

Macau experienced an increase of 107 percent from 39,964 older people in 2011 to 682,100 elderly in 2021, according to official data.

From 8.9 percent in 2011 to 16.6 percent in 2021, the elderly dependency rate has increased. 

Consequently, the economic burden in Macau has raised the possibility of laws allowing euthanasia like in Belgium, Switzerland, and New Zealand, which allow assisted suicide in exceptional cases.  

Despite the discussion, Father Cheung said the government of Macau has no plans to legalize euthanasia, so the Church must continue promoting restrictions on abortion and banning euthanasia in Macau.

As a result, Macau is not burdened as other parts of the world by the "secularist wave" that seeks to challenge the Church on matters like abortion, euthanasia and gender.

It is a "gift from God," the priest said, but local Catholics must not "let their guard down" and stand firm for the cause of human lives and dignity. - Anbu Selvam


Radio Veritas Asia (RVA), a media platform of the Catholic Church, aims to share Christ. RVA started in 1969 as a continental Catholic radio station to serve Asian countries in their respective local language, thus earning the tag “the Voice of Asian Christianity.”  Responding to the emerging context, RVA embraced media platforms to connect with the global Asian audience via its 21 language websites and various social media platforms.

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