Luanda, Angola - The Catholic Church in Angola on Saturday condemned a new bill to decriminalise abortion in the southern African country.
Justice Minister Guilhermina Prata proposed the draft law to Angola's parliament two months ago to curb clandestine abortions, which have caused the death of many young girls in the country.
But the archbishop of the central city of Huambo, Jose Queiroz, condemned the proposed legislation in strong terms during the Episcopal Conference of Angola and Sao Tome and Principe.
"The legalisation of abortion in Angola represents the state's lack of responsibility in its duties to battle poverty and support the Angolan woman, a constitutional obligation assigned to the authorities," he told AFP on the sidelines of the conference.
"Abortion is not a right for a woman to decide if a human being can or cannot live. Women are responsible for conceiving or not."
A justice ministry official told AFP the bill faces an uphill battle against the pressure of the Church, which is an important moral authority in Angolan society.
Two years ago Pope Benedict XVI reiterated the Church's ban on abortion in a nationally televised speech during his visit to Angola.
Three fifths of the country's 19 million people are Catholic.