The Evangelical Association of Malawi (EAM), an umbrella mother body of 122 Church denominations and Christian organisations, has called on Members of Parliament to reject the Termination of Pregnancy Bill if tabled in the next sitting of Parliament, arguing the bill promotes the culture of death.
Government is set to table a Termination of Pregnancy Bill to “reform” the outdated abortion law so that women can access safe abortion services in public hospitals aimed at preventing unsafe abortions.
Evangelical Association of Malawi’s position is in sharp contrast to the recent stand taken by Malawi Council of Churches (MCC) at a 2-day consultation meeting organized by COPUA in Mangochi where through its executive committee board chairperson Reverend Alex Maulana backed the proposed law arguing it would reduce maternal deaths from women who seek backstreet abortions.
“From all the discussions, we have observed that our interests are similar to that of the state. On one hand, government and churches are saying no to abortion. On the other hand, both sides realize the need to protect and save the lives of expected women. Therefore, our support is based on the fact that the new law is not legalizing abortion, but just adding some grounds on when safe abortion should be procured,” said Maulana, who is also the General Secretary of CCAP Blantyre Synod.
However, in an exclusive interview with Nyasa Times, Evangelical Association of Malawi’s General Secretary Reverend Francis Mkandawire said the question of abortion whether safe or unsafe was an already established fact that it was murder as such MPs should take responsibility by standing up for life through rejecting the proposed law if tabled in the next sitting in November.
“It is an open secret that abortion whether safe or unsafe is literally killing,” Reverend Mkandawire said.
“ Apart from the Bible, international human rights consensus documents like Universal Declaration on Human Rights (UDHR) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) clearly recognize the right to life before as well as after birth, and calls for special legal protection of the child before as well as after birth. This clearly entails that law makers have equally the legal obligation to protect the life of the unborn child through enacting laws that support life rather than those that promote the culture of death. We therefore urge our MPs to reject the abortion Bill if tabled,” added Mkandawire.
The performance of abortion, under the current laws (Penal Code Section 149-151), is generally illegal with the exception of where it can be done to save the life of the pregnant woman in extreme conditions (Section 243).
However, grounds for pregnancy termination in the bill include rape, incest, foetus deformation and pregnancies that endanger women’s lives or may cause mental or physical health complications.
Mkandawire thinks that those added conditions are a mere scapegoat and trap in order to attract public sympathy and also to capitalize on the loopholes in order to advance abortion on demand.
“Abortion- with of course exception cases whereby a woman’s life is in real danger as already provided for by our current laws- even under the grounds where the pregnancy is as a result of rape, incest or defilement has no Biblical and human rights basis. While rape, incest or defilement are undesirable, evil and sinful acts in the eyes of God, nowhere in the Bible do we see God instructing believers to abort a life that is conceived as a result of these conditions. This does not in any way suggest that God condones these undesirable and sinful acts. But rather it signifies the fact that human life-starting from conception- is sacred before the eyes of God. Justice demands that only perpetrators pay for their crimes, not the innocent unborn child,” argued Mkandawire.
Mkandawire faulted Section 3(b) of the proposed abortion bill where it authorizes abortion “to prevent injury to physical or mental health of a pregnant woman” arguing that this was a hidden abortion on demand because poverty, shame, unplanned pregnancy, getting kicked out of school can cause mental or physical health issues.
However, the Coalition for Prevention of Unsafe Abortion chairperson Juliet Sibale argued that women’s rights to decide on their body must be respected.
“We are in a human rights era and for a longtime women’s rights have been neglected. The law has to try to bring the free environment where a woman is able to access a medical facility and is able to be informed. The bottom line is that nobody should make a decision for a woman whether or not to terminate her pregnancy” said Sibale.
The Episcopal Conference of Malawi through the Pastoral Letter titled “Mercy of God as a path of hope” issued in March 2016 faulted “foreign nations and agencies who attach aid to values and practices that are contrary to our culture”, and indicated that “such practices are not only against our culture but also contrary to our laws and beliefs.
“Through the agents of the culture of death, campaigning for abortion legislation, human life is under attack,” Catholic bishops observed in their recent pastoral letter.
The letter added: “In these circumstances, we wish to reaffirm that every person is precious, that people are more important than things; and that the measure of every society is whether it threatens or enhances the life and dignity of the human person.”
Statistics from the Ministry of Health show that over 70 000 women seek backstreet abortions each year, 31 000 of which result in complications, including death.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :