The influential pro-life Catholic Church in Malawi has said its teachings on abortion are not shaken even with the recent announced proposed grounds for legal abortion in the country, saying they are unacceptable in the Church.
The Church has publicly announced its stance on the issue few weeks after pronouncement of findings and recommendations by the Special Law Commission on the Review on Abortion Law.
Section 49 of the Penal Code says anyone administering abortion is liable to imprisonment for 14 years, while Section 150 indicates that any woman who solicits an abortion is liable to 7 years incarceration.
Abortion is only allowed when a woman’s life is in danger. It requires the endorsement of 2, independent obstetricians and the consent of a spouse before it can be performed. It is out of sync with many international agreements.
Secretary General for the Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM) Fr. Henry Saindi in his speech during commemorations for the Communication Day at Mtima Woyera Parish in the Arch Diocese of Lilongwe, said the Catholic Church stance on abortion will never change, adding that Malawi Catholic Bishops will continue to uphold the church teaching against abortion.
The Special Law Commission on review on Abortion Law, findings and recommendations states that, termination of pregnancy be performed only for certain justifiable instances through an operation.
Recommendations propose that termination of pregnancy be done ‘only’ to save the life of pregnant woman, or if there is malformation of the foetus which will affect its viability or compatibility with life as well as where the pregnancy is as a result of rape, incest or defilement.
“Catholic Church already addressed this issue,” said Fr. Saindi to the congregation “The position of the church has never changed and it will never change”
Fr. Saindi stated that issue of legalizing abortion has come in different way now as recommendations by the Special Commission allows termination of pregnancy for ‘only’ justifiable instances.
However, he said nothing is “new” because the same issue was addressed in 2013 Catholic Bishops Pastoral Letter in which they tackled issues concerning Homosexuality and legalizing Abortion.
“Abortion in these instances cannot be tolerated or permitted by the Catholic Church.” He said and emphasized that “The position of the church is that abortion is the killing the unborn child because we know that the life of a person begins when a child is conceived.”
“The unborn child has a right to live and must always be protected by the society,” continued Fr. Saindi
He then explained that the Catholic Church on abortion advocates and always emphasize the role counseling of women and girls found in a situation of terminating pregnancy.
“For example those who have been raped and found to be pregnant, they have to be counseled, they have to be helped to accept their situation and the gift that God has given to them.”
Malawi’s strict anti-abortion law, traditional cultural practices, which subjugate women and expose young girls to unsafe sex and deeply conservative, Christian society where talking openly about sex remains taboo, are partly being blamed for the high botched abortion fatalities.
Women activists argue that the current restrictive legal and regulatory framework is driving women to undertake unsafe abortions that are often fatal and contributing to the infringement of women’s right to life as well as their dignity and bodily autonomy. –Additional reporting by ECM
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