By George Bulombola and Walusungu Munthali
Mzuzu, November 28, Mana: Chairperson for Parliamentary Health Committee, Dr. Mathews Ngwale says he will table the Pregnancy Termination Bill during the February, 2020 Parliamentary Sitting with hope that legislators will give a nod to the bill.
Speaking in Mzuzu during a youth conference on sexual and reproductive health rights (SRHR), Ngwale said he did not present the bill during the last parliamentary sitting because he wanted to give chance to Malawians to understand its importance.
He said he will use the period ahead of the sitting to engage various stakeholders including the youth, traditional and religious leaders to understand the motive of the bill.
“The Bill is not about the stakeholders, but it’s about saving lives of women who die during pregnancy and child delivery.
“So, it is my expectation that Malawians will appreciate its relevance and advocate for it,” said Ngwale.
He said currently, the country’s maternal mortality rate is 439 out of 100,000 pregnant women and attributed some of the deaths to pregnancy complication secondary to unsafe abortions and that the rate can decrease if the bill becomes a law.
“The current law allows one to have their pregnancy terminated on the condition that the life of the mother is in danger, but we need to add more conditions so that we do not compromise justice to SRHR,” he said.
Ngwale said the Bill has three more additional conditions for some to abort citing, being pregnant as a result of molestation, rape and incest.
He then challenged the youth and other stakeholders in the country to show their anger through protests on the absence of the inclusive pregnancy termination law as one way of advocating for Parliament to pass the Bill into Law.
“Parliamentarians do what you tell them, they must be moved by you, if you keep quiet, they may not know the challenges which you face in the absence of the law which we are advocating to have amended,” said Ngwale.
Also speaking at the conference, Vice-Chairperson for Coalition for Prevention of Unsafe Abortion (Copua), Dr. Amos Nyaka, said the conference was organised as one way of advocating for demand of SRHR.
“This is just one of the activities which we have organised during the 16 days of activism running from November 25 to December 10, 2020 because we feel gender based violence is a catalyst for several women, children and girls’ abuses,” said Nyaka.
Nyaka said the Bill should be made into law which will comprise the three additional conditions if maternal-related deaths are to be reduced.
He said the 16 days of activism period is very crucial as some of the commemoration days on different issues fall within the period.
“These include December 1, which is World AIDS Day, December 3 is set aside to commemorate the Day of People with Albinism, and we have the International Human Rights Day on December 10,” he said.
He also said by promoting access to SRHR, Malawi would be contributing to the United Nations Agenda of eliminating all forms of violence against women, children and girls by 2030.
In her remarks on behalf of participants, Chimwemwe Banda said the current Pregnancy Termination Law is very restricted and called the youth to create mass awareness on the Bill as one way of enhancing advocacy for an all-inclusive Pregnancy Termination Law.
The conference brought together about over 50 youths from Nkhata Bay and Mzuzu.