Members of Parliament from women caucus and chairpersons from various committees have spoken in support of reform of abortion laws and policies in a bid to expand access to safe abortion and increase awareness among stakeholders and within Malawian society.
The MPs made the demand during a dialogue meeting on Women’s Rights, Unsafe Abortion and Law Reform in Malawi.
They noted that the current restrictive legal and regulatory framework is driving women to undertake unsafe abortions that are often fatal.
It is contributing to the infringement of women’s right to life as well as their dignity and bodily autonomy.
Contributing to the discussions after presentations by Medical and legal experts, MPs felt they need to look at the Bill and appreciate how the law will help poor women who are dying during illegal abortions.
MP from Mzimba North Olipa Muyaba asked government to provide the MPs with the draft bill of abortion law.
Currently, abortion is legally restricted in Malawi with the Penal Code penalizing it with a minimum of 14 years in prison and experts have since called for a review of such laws.
MP for Salima North West, Dr Jessie Kabwira, who is also chairperson of parliamentary women caucus said it is unfortunate that Malawi is failing to accept the reality that “Women who happens to be our voters are dying from unsafe abortion, there is need to do something in order to save lives of our voters within our various constituencies.”
Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Mcheka Chilenje Nkhoma said it is unfortunate that Malawi continues losing women due to unsafe abortion.
Nkhoma who was the guest of honour during the caucus said the problem is how to convince the people in the village so that they can appreciate that the problem is real.
According to Gender and Human Rights Activist, Emma Kaliya most of the women involved in unsafe abortion are from poor families that cannot afford proper health care.
Kaliya supported by Women Lawyers Association Executive Secretary, Natasha Namisengo called for revision of the laws that criminalise abortion.
According to statistics, about 30,000 women are treated for complications of unsafe abortion annually.
Activists argue that a more liberal abortion law will reduce the costs to the health-care system by 25 percent to 30 percent.
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