Policy Advisor for the Organisation Luke Tembo made the call in Mangochi during a workshop to sensitise political leaders on the problem of unsafe abortion and the need to pass the revised bill so that women are able to access safe abortion at public health facilities.
The political leaders present at the workshop came from all the main political parties in the country including the Democratic Progressive Party, United Democratic Front, Malawi Congress Party as well as the Peoples Party. The representation included regional and district governors, Directors of women and selected constituency representatives, all from the political Southern and Eastern regions.
Speaking to MBC Tembo said they decided to engage the politicians so that they are aware of the stage the proposed bill is at now for them to be able to explain the proposed bill to people in their areas as well as their members of parliament and support the government when the bill is finally presented to parliament.
The proposed termination of pregnancy bill is proposing for the termination of pregnancy where it poses a threat to the life of a pregnant woman, and pregnancy as a result of incest or rape among others. The current law only provides for termination of pregnancy where the life of a pregnant woman is in danger.
According to Tembo, the bill has taken the right direction and it will help in dealing with deaths that come because of unsafe abortion in the country once passed in parliament.
“Every journey starts with a first step, we would have loved if the law would have provided for women to terminate pregnancy on demand but still, this is a good start,” said Tembo.
During the meeting, most participants acknowledged that the issue of unsafe abortion is there in the communities and that it needs to be addressed.
In his presentation Dr Chisale Mhango, who is a Reproductive Health Expert in the country and a lecturer at the college of medicine dismissed fears that cases of abortion will increase in the country if the proposed bill is to be passed into law.
“Wherever abortion has been liberalized, total numbers of abortion cases have gone down because the liberalization of abortion service includes a strong family planning component which is not possible without the law in place, so those are just fears that will not happen,” said Mhango
He reiterated the need to pass the proposed bill because the current restrictive law is leading to the death of women in the country, especially those that cannot afford to procure abortion services from private hospitals and resolve to terminating pregnancy using clandestine ways.
Mhango added that “when a woman decides to terminate a pregnancy she terminates anyway no matter what the law says.”
Current statistics show that 70 000 abortions are procured in Malawi every year and that 17% of maternal mortality in the country is due to unsafe abortions.