Malawi Law Commission has said the proposed Termination of Pregnancy Bill, widely known as Abortion Bill that has sparked a heated debate between the clergy and civil society organisations (CSOs), should not be perceived as inhumane
Mike Chinoko, the commission’s deputy chief law reform officer, said this at a sensitisation workshop organised by Malawi Human Rights Resource Centre in partnership with Parliamentary Committee on Health to brief stakeholders on the contents of the proposed Bill.
He said there has to be a distinction between church and State regulations.
Said Chinoko: “Amendments to the already existing law will not be as amending church rules. The church must understand that there will always be a difference between church and the State.”
He said a Special Law Commission report yet to become a law was adopted by the clergy who formed part of the commission. He said the proposed law clearly criminalises abortion.
Said Chinoko: “There is no way the malpractice could become legal and it remains evil.”
However, Chinoko’s sentiments are in sharp contrast with a statement from Ministry of Information and Communications Technology denying knowledge of the said Bill and that, instead, there is a recommendation on the same which can be approved or rejected by Cabinet.
Currently, the status of abortion law is governed by the Penal Code under sections 149, 150, 151 and 243 which prohibit termination of pregnancy except where the life of the mother is threatened.
On December 6 this year, the clergy led their faithful in nationwide peaceful demonstrations to protest against the proposed Termination of Pregnancy Bill and same sex marriages in the country.
The marches took place concurrently in Blantyre, Zomba, Mangochi, Lilongwe and Mzuzu.
During the marches, the demonstrators presented petitions to government through city and town councils as well as Parliament in the case of Lilongwe.
“The proposed Termination of Pregnancy Bill or Killing of Unborn Children Bill, is not only against our culture, beliefs and laws, but it is also a threat to human life,” reads the petition in part co-signed by Father Henry Saindi, secretary general of Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) and Reverend Francis Mkandawire, general secretary of Evangelical Association of Malawi (EAM). n