Masy Goulamaly (photo above) is a member of Parliament in Madagascar and vice-president of the Gender Equality, Promotion of Women and Youth Development Committee of the Parliamentary Forum of the Community of Southern African States.
Choice, she said, was the reason for tabling a proposed new law on Therapeutic Termination of Pregnancy (ITG) on 18 October 2021 in the National Assembly, for inclusion on the agenda of the session of Parliament that started on 19 October. First, however, the Constitution requires that legislative proposals made by parliamentarians be brought to the attention of the government, which has a period of 30 days to formulate its observations before the bill is placed on Parliament’s agenda. Social networks are already buzzing in the interim.
A similar bill had previously been tabled in 2017, as part of a bill on family planning. Because of the debates at the time, however, especially in the Senate, the parliamentarians did not want to open the debate on the question. They feared the reaction of public opinion.
“As it is, our laws prohibit termination of pregnancy for any reason. This is regrettable since, first of all, it ignores reality, but also, annihilates the right for women to have the choice, in particular, when their health and even their lives are at stake,” said Masy Goulamaly in an interview. She added that the proposed law also aims to protect doctors from the risks of legal action when they are faced with situations where the termination of pregnancy is one of the treatment options.
The new bill provides that a therapeutic abortion is authorised if the doctor considers that the pregnancy presents a danger to the life of the mother. It also includes cases of a congenital malformation, or a serious incurable disease in the fetus, and also allows abortion for women victims of rape or incest, or who are mentally incapable of assuming the role of parent.
According to sources, during the consultations carried out as part of the preparation of this bill, doctors confided in some cases that the legal provisions in force at present complicate decision-making. Some complications that can occur during pregnancy would require an ITG in order to save the woman’s life. Legally, even this option remains prohibited.
There are about 75,000 abortions a year in Madagascar, many unsafe. Since 2017, human rights defenders and activists for gender equality and women’s rights have conducted many consultations and organised a series of debates on these issues.
SOURCE: Moov.mg, 19 October 2021 ; PHOTO: L’Express de Madagascar