Deputy chairperson of the Parliamentary Health and Population Committee Grace Chiumia has called on her fellow legislators and Malawians to face up to the realities of unsafe abortions.
Chiumia was speaking in Lilongwe on Wednesday during a meeting involving some members of the committee, health experts and Ipas, a non-governmental organisation championing sexual reproductive rights.
Said Chiumia: “Maternal mortality rate remains a challenge and one contributing factor is the issue of abortion. As a result, Malawi cannot claim that it will achieve Millennium Development Goal number five.”
She said Parliament is key in passing laws and policy change where necessary, but called for more dialogue with Members of Parliament, background information and public awareness on the matter.
Currently, Malawi only allows abortion if the pregnancy threatens the life of the mother and penalises all other cases of abortion, a development that has made unsafe abortion attractive to many young women.
Dr. Chisale Mhango, veteran obstetrician and lecturer at the College of Medicine who was consulted in drafting the Maputo Protocol, said on Friday countries that legalise safe abortion score higher in reducing maternal mortality rate.
“Current laws discriminate against the poor. The rich will always have safe abortion whatever the prevailing law. Studies reveal that where abortion is legal and permitted on broad grounds, deaths from complications are rare,” said Mhango.