In a hospital room in Thyolo, a southern Malawian town nestled in tea plantations, Ngellina Chikopa unwraps her sarong to reveal a long wound filled with pus. The cut stretches from her lower abdomen through her belly button and up past her stomach. The 18-year-old gave birth by caesarean section in April 2018, but the baby died of asphyxia after becoming stuck and suffering brain damage from lack of oxygen. While she was grieving, the wound became infected. … Continued
The Malawi Law Commission, following its review of the colonial abortion law, has proposed liberal changes which, if implemented, would expand access to safe abortion.
In May 2018, “Rachel” was a Standard 5 pregnant school drop-out. At the age of 15, she is already facing pregnancy complications befitting the age of her mother. It is over three months now since she walked into the maternity ward at Thyolo District Hospital to await her labour. When she arrived, the nurses told her that she would only deliver through caesarean section. The subsequent experience vindicated her fright. Fear haunts her. Discharge of … Continued
Women in Malawi should be given freedom to access sexual and reproductive health services without interference from the state and the church, said Brian Ligomeka, Executive Director, Centre for Solutions Journalism in an interview about the rejection of the former 8th Amendment of the Irish Constitution. “Malawi as a nation needs to emulate what has happened in Ireland by reforming its abortion law. It is unacceptable for the state and religious denominations to be denying … Continued
Malawian gynaecologist Dr Chisali Mhango sheds light on abortion law history, misconceptions, fears and law reform process in Malawi. This is an excerpted version of the full article, which we highly recommend reading.
This history of advocacy and campaigning for abortion law reform by a coalition of NGOs and women’s groups in Malawi identifies the factors that helped generate political will to address unsafe abortion, and the consequences of an ongoing backlash against law reform from the international anti-choice movement and their appeal to religious and nationalist values.
On 6 February, we sent out a news report that we discovered afterwards was untrue. In it, we had reported that Banja La Mtsogolo (BLM), a group of clinics providing sexual and reproductive health care services in Malawi, had decided to provide safe abortions in order to contribute to a reduction in unsafe abortion deaths and complications in Malawi. We based our story entirely on a news report of 1 February by Malawi 24. We … Continued
The Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs in Malawi has now published the July 2015 report of the Special Law Commission on the Review of Abortion Laws and gazetted the long-awaited Termination of Pregnancy Bill which they recommended. These were both distributed in the last week of May to all members of Parliament, the Speaker of Parliament, libraries, universities, the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Justice and the judiciary. The Bill will be sent … Continued
Most induced abortions in Malawi are performed under unsafe conditions, contributing to the high maternal mortality ratio. Malawians are currently debating whether to provide additional exceptions under which an abortion may be legally obtained. An estimated 67,300 induced abortions occurred in Malawi in 2009, but since then changes such as dramatic increases in contraceptive prevalence may have impacted abortion rates.
Human rights activists have urged the Malawian government to enact the abortion bill that was developed last year with the involvement of a Special Law Commission, which included representatives from all the main religious bodies, as well as representatives from the Ministries of Health and Justice, the judiciary, the Law Society, and the University of Malawi, NGOs and others. The arguments that advocates have just put forward in a meeting for taking the draft law … Continued