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Malawi: State House Says Chakwera Cannot Stop Abortion Debate

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Parliament is set to discuss a Termination of Pregnancy bill which aims at expanding avenues for women to have safe abortion.

Speaking during the Weekly Briefings on Monday, presidential press secretary Brian Banda said the bill is coming in the House as a private member’s bill.

MP will debate, pass or reject the Bill to amend the existing Abortion Law so that termination of ‘unwanted pregnancies’ can be legalised to girls or women that are raped, imbeciles, or persons that are enticed and fall pregnant, among other groups, according to chairperson of a Parliamentary Committee on Health, Mathews Ngwale.

The bill has already courted controversy as it has divided opinion between those in its support and those against it.

However, Banda said the President believes in contact and dialogue and cannot stop the debate on the matter.

He added that those against the Bill should lobby members of Parliament to support their point of view.

The majority of induced abortion procedures in Malawi are performed under clandestine and unsafe conditions. Complications from abortions have been estimated to account for between 6% and 18% of maternal deaths in Malawi.

Abortion is only legal in Malawi to save a woman’s life. Obtaining an abortion for any other reason is punishable by 7-14 years in prison.

The current bill aims at providing more options for women who want to procure abortion.

But the faith groups that include Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM), Evangelical Association of Malawi (EAM) and Public Affairs Committee (PAC), maintained their position that any life, be it of unborn or born baby, is sacred.

According to Ngwale, owing to high maternal mortality rate, Malawi Law Commission (MLC) conducted a research and later made recommendations to Ministry of Health on what could be done if the maternal rate could be reduced.

He said the recommendations included the proposed amendments to the existing Abortion Law.

“The current law only allows doctors to save the life of a woman in danger to lose her life. But we want further exceptions; we want to expand the grounds on the same law,” he said.

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