When Hilda, 28, realised she was two months pregnant, her world crumbled. She has no time to look after a baby. She is still a long way off before she can settle down and have a family, she thought. What is worse? The man responsible for this child, just like her two previous pregnancies, is a married man who would not want anything to do with child maintenance.
The only way out, she thinks, is to terminate the pregnancy, just like the two others before. She goes to her friend, Bettie to find out where she can have her pregnancy terminated without feeling too much pain. Unfortunately, her friend airs her dirty laundry in the company of other friends who have conflicting views about the whole idea.
“Abortion is totally wrong in the eyes of God. I know a couple that has been married for more than 13 years and they do not have a child; a very prayerful couple for that matter. I believe that God hears their cry and that one day He will answer their prayer. I also know that they would be very glad to adopt the child your friend wants to get rid of,” says one of the friends, Joyce.
Another friend, Kettie, join in the discussion and says: “You have no idea what your friend is going through that has prompted her to resort to abortion. May be the man responsible for the pregnancy belongs to somebody. May be she is not financially stable to take care of a baby.”
However, another argues that she does not see any reason why a girl, mature enough should go for an abortion, unless if the pregnancy is deemed as a danger to her, in which case, health practitioners can give her options on how she can go about it.
“I am not trying to judge her, but it is wrong to kill an innocent soul, unless if her life is at risk,” she says while pointing out that the fact that Hilda specifies she does not want a painful abortion means she has had one or two before.
Presbytery clerk for Blantyre City Presbytery, Reverend Buxton Maulidi puts it in plain words that abortion, from a church’s point of view, is sin.
“Getting an abortion is not recommended. Even if a woman gets pregnant after being raped, the church will not concede abortion. If God allowed for the conception, then surely there was a purpose.
“There is simply no excuse for abortion. There are times, however, when doctors recommend it for the wellbeing of the mother; in situations where the mother might die due to the pregnancy for instance. Only then can the church excuse pregnancy termination. So when a doctor recommends it for the wellbeing of the mother, then that is understandable,” he says.
Family Planning Association of Malawi (Fpam) is a local non-Governmental organisation that was established in 1999 to provide youth friendly sexual reproductive health services and information.
It is one way in which people like Hilda could escape situations where they have to go for pregnancy termination.
Fpam communications officer, Henry Nyaka describes family planning as the systematic and informed use of methods to control, delay or stop conception with the use of secure and modern contraceptive methods.
The communications officer says that as an organisation, Fpam understands that to make informed choices, young women need to be aware of their sexual reproductive health and family planning methods.
“Enhanced knowledge on family planning helps individuals, families and even countries to make informed choices in matters of population. It gives power to couples or individuals to decide on the time to conceive, do child spacing and plan their future.
“With a controlled population, we believe many challenges being faced in the country like water, electricity and food shortages that concern the rise in population rates can be eradicated,” he says.
Nyaka indicates that within the laws of the land, abortion is illegal, explaining that Fpam only promotes sexual reproductive health and family planning to address the challenges that come with issues of abortion and other things.
“As an organization, we still assist victims of unsafe abortions in providing post abortion care and counseling. We stress on sexual reproductive health for a healthy life. Fpam does not conduct abortions but we do treat women for the effects of abortion,” Nyaka explains. n