The Coalition for the Prevention of Unsafe Abortion (Copua) has said termination of pregnancy is a human rights issue as such the law soon to be introduced should strive to provide an environment where women can make decisions about their bodies.
Copua chairperson Juliet Sibale, speaking on Friday in an interview in Mangochi on the sidelines of media training on reproductive health rights and the termination of pregnancy law reform, said to achieve that, the law has to include more grounds on which a woman can walk into a medical facility and demand termination of pregnancy.
She said: “We are in a human rights era and for a long time women’s rights have been neglected. The law has to try to bring that free environment where a woman is able to access a medical facility and is able to be informed.
“Under the Termination of Pregnancy Bill (ToPB) proposed by the Malawi Law Commission, it is also providing for counseling services so much that when a women walks into a facility, they will be able to go through counselling which in other jurisdictions has helped to reduce incidences of abortion, be it medical or otherwise as some women have changed their minds at that point while others still go ahead with the pregnancy termination.”
She added that the bottom line is that nobody should make a decision for a woman whether or not to terminate her pregnancy.
The proposed Bill only allows termination of pregnancy when the life of a woman is in danger, when the pregnancy is a result of rape, incest or defilement, when the physical health and mental health of the woman is threatened and also when the foetus which is developing is malformed and cannot survive after birth.
Experts have previously argued that the grounds provided from the proposed Bill are limited because women seek terminations for more grounds than the ones listed, because, on the health perspective, it means that those women who feel excluded will still go underground and access termination of a pregnancy which will be unsafe.
The last report on abortion titled Magnitude and Incidences of Unsafe Abortion released in 2009 by Ministry of Health (MoH) said over 70 000 girls and women procure an abortion every year, and that government loses about K300 million annually in treating those who suffer from unsafe abortion complications. n