CSOs sipport abortion bill, call for massive awareness

Amid controversies surrounding the Abortion bill, some Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) have supported the proposed bill to be tabled in parliament.

Recently, some religious leaders protested against the proposal to legalize abortion in the country.

Speaking during a consultative meeting on termination of pregnancy bill recently in Blantyre CSO representatives expressed dissatisfaction over the protests arguing that the proposed abortion bill will only encourage women to procure safe abortion and reduce complications that result due to unsafe abortion.

The CSOs have since called for awareness of the contents of the bill to help the public make informed decisions.

According to a 2009-2012 Ministry of Health research on unsafe abortion in Malawi, annually 100,000 women procure unsafe abortions out of which 81.1 percent are married people.

The research indicates that out of the figure, 33,000 women are treated for unsafe abortion complications and 17 percent of them die of the complications.

Commenting on the matter, Nation Election System Trust (NEST) Programme officer, Odreck Kathamalo observed that the bill is not legalizing abortion rather liberalizing the existing restrictive law so as to save the lives of women and also huge sums of money that are used for post abortion care services.

The proposed bill will not encourage women or mothers to procure abortions any time they want, rather save the lives of such women or mothers who die after seeking unsafe abortion services. In addition, divert the money used for treating unsafe abortion complications to other health services, he said.

According to Law Commission Assistant Chief Law Reform Officer Edda Chavula, the proposed termination of pregnancy bill, still considers abortion as a criminal offence.

She said the bill however provides conditions for procuring abortion, which include saving the lives of the mother or if there is; physical or mental problem of the mother or pregnancy comes due to rape, defilement or incest.

The meeting attracted close to 27 CSOs including Active Youth Initiative for Social Enhancement, Women and Law in Southern Africa, Malawi CARER, Save the Children, Civil Liberties Committee, Women Legal Resource Centre and Centre for Alternatives Victimized Women and Girls.

Source: Malawi News Agency � MANA