Sheila Dinotshe Tlou, a nursing professor and former health minister for Botswana, is an ardent supporter of contraception and a champion of HIV/AIDS prevention and other health concerns.
This stands in opposition to the Catholic Church’s belief that artificial birth control is immoral.
She was one of many new members whose qualifications and experience were recognized by the Pontifical Academy for Life on October 15 as contributing to “a continual and productive multidisciplinary, intercultural, and interreligious interaction.”
Tlou tweeted on October 17 that “this is without a doubt the most humble of all my positions and accolades.” “I will do my best to succeed with your prayers and encouragement. God bless.
Tlou was contacted by CNA on her opinions on abortion, but she refused to respond until until February 2023. The Pontifical Academy for Life is scheduled to convene its subsequent inaugural meeting at that time, according to Tlou.
From 2004 until 2008, Tlou headed Botswana’s health ministry. Except in situations when the mother’s life, mental or physical health is in risk due to the pregnancy, or in situations where the unborn child was created via rape or incest, or has a fetal anomaly, the government forbids abortion.
She does serve on the oversight committee for SEMA Reproductive Health, a partnership established in 2021 to support the development of the market for “sexual and reproductive health goods,” according to the group’s website. Contraceptives, medications to manage pregnancy difficulties, and “equipment for safe abortion and post-abortion care” are among these items.
These items are “essential to saving lives and fostering gender equality,” according to SEMA Reproductive Health.
According to the organization’s website, they may significantly enhance people’s health and wellbeing by lowering unplanned pregnancies, unsafe abortions, and maternal fatalities.
SEMA Reproductive Health was contacted by CNA for comment, but no answer was received in time for publishing.
Tlou’s current duties are varied. She serves as the chancellor of the Botswana Open University, a special ambassador for the African Leaders Anti-Malaria Alliance, co-chair of the Global HIV Prevention Coalition, and co-chair of the NursingNow Campaign, which aims to advance the nursing profession.
She often expresses opposition to forced sterilization and sexual assault against women in her Twitter remarks. She does, however, openly support access to contraceptives, something Catholic officials have often denounced. Her social media posts about the appropriate response to “unsafe abortions” are equivocal.
In a tweet on September 28, 2017, she stated, “With access to sexual and reproductive health, we can end unsafe abortions that kill millions of women every day.”
The tweet included a link to a World Health Organization report that estimated there were 25 million “unsafe abortions” performed annually. Legalized abortion is often referred to as “sexual and reproductive health” to avoid being identified as such.
She states in a tweet from April 21, 2016, that “there is no way we can eliminate illegal abortions if we don’t get this one right and guarantee that every woman has access” in apparent reference to access to contraception.
She made a remark on a Reuters news article about abortion rates reaching historic lows in developed nations but remaining stable elsewhere in a tweet on May 13, 2016. And we’re still indigent, she said. and the unlawful abortions and lack of access to contraception continue to claim the lives of our women.
She shared a Time Magazine story on individuals who claimed that the epidemic interfered with their plans to have parents in a tweet on April 23.
Thousands more babies will be born among the poorest families after the lockdowns, the most of them unintended, she said. “This shows the necessity for sexual and reproductive health and rights for everyone during such calamities,” she added.
Tlou graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago with a PhD in nursing and possesses postgraduate degrees in women’s health and gender studies.
She has master’s degrees in nursing from Columbia University and nursing education and teaching from The Catholic University of America.
Even though the disease has claimed the lives of over 35 million people, she is still working to prevent HIV and AIDS.
About 770,000 individuals were died by the illness in 2018. Where there are good medicines and cures available, HIV infections are substantially less fatal and reached their worldwide high in 1996.
A million of the 1.8 million new infections that occurred in 2018 were in Africa, according to the Africa division of the World Health Organization.
In order to advance the study of the major issues in medicine and law pertaining to “the promotion and defense of life, above all in the direct relation that they have with Christian morality and the directives of the Church’s Magisterium,” St. John Paul II established the Pontifical Academy for Life in February 1994.
Members of the Pontifical Academy for Life were formerly required to firmly believe that “every human being is a person” and that “it is the same human being that develops to maturity and dies from the time the embryo is born until death.”
The new statutes Pope Francis has approved state that members should “promote and defend the principles regarding the value of life and dignity of the human person, interpreted in a way that is conformant to the Magisterium of the Church,” despite the fact that these regulations were dropped in 2016.
In the event of a “public and intentional action or speech plainly contradictory to stated values, or significantly insulting to the dignity and credibility of the Catholic Church and the academy itself,” the academy may still withdraw membership.
Mariana Mazzucato, an economist from Italy who just joined the pontifical academy, has been a vocal supporter of abortion rights, which has caused debate about her selection.
The Pontifical Academy for Life responded to the controversy by releasing a statement on October 19 in which it identified itself as “a study and research group” whose “discussion and discourse take place amongst persons of diverse backgrounds.”
According to the statement, potential candidates are examined by the episcopal conferences of their home nations and the apostolic nuncio.
Roberto Dell’Oro, a professor at Loyola Marymount University and a recently reappointed member of the Pontifical Academy for Life, recently attacked the U.S. Supreme Court’s Dobbs ruling, which repealed Roe v. Wade’s robust pro-abortion provisions.
The professor contended that despite supporting abortion restrictions as early as the first trimester or, at the very least, as late as the unborn child can feel pain, Dobbs transgresses standards of democratic personal freedom and respect for women’s fundamental autonomy in a manner that borders on the “totalitarian.”