Politicians, academia, and civil society organisations call for speedy abortion law reforms in Malawi

In Mangochi, during this year’s Regional Sensitization meeting for political party leaders, members of the following political parties invited to meeting included: the Democratic Progressive Party, Malawi Congress Party, United Democratic Front, Peoples Party, and Alliance for Democracy.During the meeting, which took place on 14-15 July, members of several political parties, academia and civil society organisations reminded the Government of Malawi and Members of Parliament to table, debate and pass the much-awaited pregnancy termination bill into law. They talked about the need to change the law in order to save women’s health and lives – as well as saving the country K300 million, which Government is having to spend on post-abortion care to treat complications of unsafe abortions.In August 2015, political parties endorsed abortion law reforms in Malawi as currently abortion is illegal and is punishable by a maximum of 14 years in jail except in cases where the pregnancy threatens the life of a woman.Opening the meeting Senior Chief Lukwa reminded MPs of their role as architects of laws in Malawi. He asked them not to bury their heads or look down on this bill, as Malawi is losing a lot of women to illegal abortion. He also commended Government for the special Law Commission which reviewed the outdated law.Dr Chisale Mhango, a senior lecturer in gynaecology at the College of Medicine, said the only option to save women is to replace the restrictive 1861 law with a new one. Luke Tembo, Policy Advisor at the Coalition for the Prevention of Unsafe Abortion (COPUA), commended the politicians for showing interest in issues which affects the Malawi women. The newly formed Obstetricians and Gynecologists Association of Malawi said they had recently endorsed the law reform.The bill is currently at Cabinet level but Members of Parliament have openly asked civil society for more civic education on the issue, as politicians are shy, they say, about speaking of the bill in their constituencies.SOURCE: Maravi Post, by John Saukira, 15 July 2016 ; PHOTO