Coalition for the Prevention of Unsafe Abortion (COPUA) has persuaded Members of Parliament from Legal Affairs Committee on the need to reform the abortion law in the country to ensure that no woman dies from unsafe abortion.
Copua organised a dialogue meeting with Legal Affairs Committee on Women’s Rights, Unsafe Abortion and Law Reform in Malawi held at Capital Hotel in Lilongwe at the weekend.
National Coordinator for Copua, Chrispine Sibande, a human rights lawyer with specialization in Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights, said Malawi should reform its laws on abortion to be in line with the recommendation of the African Union through the African Protocol on Women’s Rights and the Maputo Action Plan to which Malawi is a signatory.
Ministry of Health adopted a 2009 Sexual and Reproductive Policy that says safe abortion should be provided by public and private hospitals to the full extent of the law. Government started reviewing laws on abortion in the year 2000 but the bill is not yet in parliament.
“Currently Malawi government is spending millions in providing post abortion care usually from unsafe abortions instead of comprehensive abortion care. It is like tax payers are funding unsafe abortions instead of safe abortions.” said Sibande.
Currently, Malawi is one of the countries in the world with the highest maternal mortality with 17 percent of deaths attributable to unsafe abortion.
Malawi Penal Code criminalizes abortion under sections 149-150 but provides exception under section 243 where it says a surgical operation abortion can be conducted any person with reasonable skill to save a woman’s life.
However modern abortions are procured by simply administering drugs like Cytotec. Cytotec is readily available in almost all Malawi Pharmacies without an abortion law.
Anyone crossing path with the current abortion law is caged for above 14 years.
Dr. Ausbert Thoko Msusa, Lecturer in Obstetrics and Gynaecology College of Medicine, Obstetrics and Gynaecology Department appealed to the MPs to pass the abortion law saying Malawi is the only country remaining to review this law in SADC region.
“The public, government-run health care facilities bear the brunt of caring for post abortion care complications in Malawi, which incurs a cost of between USD $300,000- $500,000 annually. What’s more, families also pay the cost of unsafe abortion when a woman dies.” Said Dr Msusa.
Msusa said surveyed healthcare professionals estimated that first trimester abortions may cost Malawi women an average of about 3,220 MWK ($23); 1,960 MWK ($14) in urban areas and 4,480 MWK ($32) in rural areas.
Law expert Tinyade Kachika who is also the Managing Consultant of the Lawplus said other countries have reviewed the law to fit the current medical status.
Kachika said said the high cost of abortion has severe implications for women, especially those in rural areas.
Parliamentary Legal Chairperson, Lewis Chakhwantha, admitted that the law is indeed very important.
“We need this bill to save the lives of our women,”
Chakhwantha said Malawi should not burry its head under the sand, saying abortion law is needed.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :