COPUA highlights major gaps in bill proposed by Malawi government to amend the abortion law

The government bill to amend the current abortion law proposes reform to ensure that women and girls, mostly from poor families, are not dying of unsafe abortions complications.However, in interview with the Nyasa Times during a two-day media orientation meeting in Mangochi, Malawi, the Chair of COPUA (Coalition to Prevent Unsafe Abortion), Juliet Sibale, noted that the new bill has failed to provide enough grounds on which women and girls could seek safe abortion services.“There are gaps which we noted in the new bill, and we are currently lobbying that when our Parliamentarians deliberate on that bill, they should consider such gaps. There is a need for such gaps to be amended if we are to have a law that provide enough grounds on which women and girls can terminate a pregnancy,” explained Sibale.Sibale, who is also a lawyer in the Ministry of Gender, said the currently bill has left out grounds such as social and economic reasons, which will force most women and girls  to continue use unsafe abortion methods, the very thing the bill is fighting against.The proposed bill provides three grounds on which abortion will be permitted: risk to the woman’s life from the pregnancy, rape or incest, and when there is a malformation of the fetus.Findings of yet-to-be-released Ministry of Health research indicate that the problem of unsafe abortion continues to worsen in the country.Recently, the Malawi Council of Churches expressed optimism that the faith community will endorse the new bill yet to be tabled in Parliament.SOURCE: Nyasa Times, 4 September 2016