The heated debate about liberalisation of abortion has been dogged by lies, assumptions and even religious dogma. The recent anti-choice march confirmed how some people are deliberately or ignorantly ignoring crucial facts in this debate.
There is a misconception among anti-choice campaigners that women who terminate their pregnancies do so because they are happy to do so. They never consider the emotional, psychological and medical conditions of women who terminate pregnancies.
As a woman, I feel sad to see that it is men who are on the forefront opposing liberalisation of laws that affect women’s health and rights. Who drafted the petition to block women from enjoying their reproductive rights to safe abortion? Men. Who received the petition? Men! Who organised the demonstrations? Men [in robes].
Why do impregnators, who do not get pregnant and do not even induce abortions, want to make laws that directly affect women?
This is all about male chauvinism and gender discrimination. It is the wish of such men to see women in the yoke of oppression. They want women to continue dying from unsafe abortions. They have no regard for the life and rights of women.
The decision to continue or end unwanted pregnancy should be left in the hands of the one carrying it. Men should not make laws for women on issues they do not experience and understand.
There are many reasons why women terminate unwanted pregnancies. They include contraceptive failure, rape, incest and medical complications. Anti-choice campaigners should not behave like the Pharisees of old on abortion issues.
These Pharisees want to create an impression that they are the holiest saints in Malawi, but most of them commit the worst sins imaginable.
The Bible says: “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So…do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them.”
A 2011 study by the Ministry of Health (MoHi found compelling cases about abortion which women from different religious denominations procure. The study found out that women from all religious groups, including Catholics, Protestants, Pentecostals and Muslims, do procure abortions.
The media has carried several articles that confirm faith leaders commit all sorts of sexual vices, impregnating members of their flock. Some of them even sponsor or force their concubines to abort.
Yet, when they are on the pulpit, they speak like saints. It is their jobm but all this is hypocrisy.
Perhaps it is time that the media should name and shame religious leaders who have sponsored abortions, those who have broken their celibacy vows and have children outside wedlock.
Termination of unwanted pregnancies is a class issue.
Concubines of church leaders are sponsored to seek abortions in private clinics, while poor women bear the brunt of unsafe termination of pregnancies. They use poisonous substances and sharp objects to induce abortions.
The proposed law that the church is opposing wants save women who die in the hands of quacks when seeking unsafe abortions.
Such women should have an opportunity to seek safe abortions at the hospitals just as the concubines of religious leaders do.
MoH statistics as explained in the Magnitude of Unsafe Abortions in Malawi report tell one big story. Despite having a restrictive law and despite church’s preaching, churchy women are dying from unsafe abortion.
Let them have safe access in hospitals. It is cheaper than treating complication of unsafe abortion. n