Withdrawal of ‘Termination of Pregnancy Bill’ motion commendable – CSJ

Centre for Solutions Journalism (CSJ) has commended Chairperson for the Parliamentary Committee on Health, Dr Mathew Ngwale, for withdrawing his intention to table the Termination of Pregnancy Bill, saying the decision will provide ample time for stakeholders to continue sensitising and civic-educating others about the bill.

CSJ said it believed that once civic-educated about the Bill, many Malawians will support its enactment so as to save the lives of women and girls who die due to unsafe abortion.

Penelope Paliani, CSJ executive director, said the current withdrawal of the bill will allow advocates for safe motherhood time and opportunity to reach out to many stakeholders including cabinet ministers and Members of Parliament through sensitizations.

“It was prudent for the Chairperson, Dr Matthews Ngwale, to withdraw the motion for now and bring it back to Parliament once many stakeholders fully understand that bill is aimed at saving the lives of women and girls who die due to pregnancy-related causes,” said Paliani in a press statement on Thursday.

According to the organisation’s programmes advisor, Brian Ligomeka, the withdrawal does not mean the end of the journey towards the enactment of the Termination of Pregnancy Bill but rather a journey of making smooth the path to reach to the desired result.

Dr Matthews Ngwale

“Tactical withdrawals are common practices both in strategic implementation and even in military welfares. They do not mean giving up but creating opportunity for intensive activities in operations,” he pointed out.

Ligomeka explained that it was important that Malawians should remember that it was actually the Ministry of Health that requested the Law Commission to draft the Termination of Pregnancy Bill and Ngwale simply adopted it.

“The proposed Termination of Pregnancy Bill which the Law Commission drafted is still intact and will be tabled as a government bill at an opportune time. The draft law is with the Ministry of Health which once is endorsed by Cabinet will be tabled,” he explained.

Malawi currently allows abortion only when it is necessary to save a woman’s life, but the proposed bill which the Law Commission drafted would allow terminations in cases of rape, incest, or when the pregnancy endangers the mother’s physical or mental health.

Unsafe abortions contribute up to18 percent of maternal deaths in the country.

According to research by the College of Medicine, over 141,000 women in the country induce abortions every year.

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