Clergy snubs campaign on abortion law reform

Religious leaders continue reacting negatively towards the campaign that seeks to push government authorities to soften the abortion laws in Malawi.

Women rights activists are asking government to consider liberalizing abortion laws which are currently restricted to a pregnant mother whose life is in danger.

The campaign is premised on the basis that more women’s lives are lost due to complications from unsafe abortions that are carried out by inexperienced or untrained personnel.

Seodi: Legalise abortion

Statistics shows that over 17 percent of maternal deaths in the public hospitals are because of unsafe abortion.

One of the organizations championing the campaign on abortion laws reform is the Malawi chapter of Women and Law in Southern Africa Research Trust (WILSA).

Its National Coordinator Seode White says it’s high time Malawi should consider legalizing abortion because a lot of women’s lives are being lost due to unsafe abortion.

White says the deaths are largely caused by the harmful procedure which these women under go when carrying an abortion.

“Some of the methods used are drinking surf, using wires, and poisonous herbs. So what we are asking is that our laws should be liberalized so that those who want to carry out abortion should be accessing assistance from trained medical personnel in the hospitals instead of going for unsafe abortion,” says White .

“Here we are talking about cases where a woman has become pregnant because of rape, incest or even when contraception fails”.

However, religious leaders are not amused with the campaign. Sheikh Dinala Chabulika national Coordinator of the Islamic Information Bureau said in an interview monitored on Radio Islam that abortion is a sin.

He said in Islam abortion is only allowed when there is proof from a Muslim medical doctor that the life of a mother will be in danger during delivery.

“Here Islam teaches that we should save one life. So in this case we can save the existing life that is, that of the mother”

Chabulika said in totality abortion is prohibited in Islam “because it is killing.”

On the pregnancy as a result of incest and rape, the learned sheikh said the best way to deal with rape incident is to rush to the hospital soon after the incident where they “clean” the woman.

Abortion is also an offence in Malawi according to the country’s penal code. Section 149 of the country’s penal code penalizes any person who administers abortion to 14 years imprisonment, while any woman who solicits an abortion is liable to seven years in prison.

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