Legalise It: Doctors Petition Govt to Repeal Anti-abortion Law

Harare – Sixteen percent of blood transfusions in Zimbabwe’s hospitals are directed to save women's lives anguishing from botched pregnancy terminations due to sever blood loss.

Furthermore, the country’s health bill is bloated as the state treats more patients from backyard abortions since the nation outlaws the act.

Derick Matsengarwodzi
Under the Termination of Pregnancy Act of 1977 (Chapter 15:10), abortion is banned, and any attempt attracts a jail term.
Despite the Laws, Africa Records 1.7 Illegal Abortions Yearly

However, the Zimbabwe Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) have petitioned the government to revoke the act in order to reduce the high maternal death rate experienced by Harare.

“We therefore call upon the Government of Zimbabwe to repeal the Termination of Pregnancy Act and remove other barriers to accessing safe reproductive health services for women and allow women to take responsibility of their reproductive health,” ZADHR pronounced in a recent communiqué.

One in 190 women die or shortly after delivery in Zimbabwe – the World Health Organisation (WHO) reveals. A third of the deaths are attributed to unsafe abortions, often performed under unhealthy conditions by unqualified people.

Rescinding the act could save more lives, proponents argue.

“As ZADHR we contend that once a woman decides to have an abortion, she is most likely going to go through the process regardless of it being illegal,” the statement continued.

Access to safe abortions facilities is guaranteed by UNCHR as part of women’s health productive rights – but the present act force women to seek other illicit means.

“This we believe will go a long way in protecting and promoting the sexual and reproductive rights of the women and adolescent girls, failure of which is a violation of women’s rights to life, to health, to reproductive self-determination and right to the enjoyment of the benefits of scientific progress among others,” noted the practitioners.

Zimbabwe accounts for 70 000 illegal abortions yearly, and the demand is increasing due to rampant poverty, lack of contraceptives, rigid cultural and religious beliefs.

“Life begins at conception, without conception there is no life and one can only kill when there is life so abortion is murder and the bible is absolute about the termination of life as a sin. Sin is sin and it will not change,” Mairos Mubvumbi, a Harare Pastor was quoted by a weekly publication.

Speaking to the Daily News, Doctor Ruth Labode says the contentious issue should be brought for debate to save lives.

“We are having a lot of young girls who are dying due to lack of access to safe abortion services, where they turn to backdoor methods and end up bleeding to death,” Labode aired her concerns.

According to Constitution, a legal abortion can only be done by a medical practitioner in a designated institution with the written permission of the superintendent of the institution. 

Studies by the Lancet show that countries that forbid and punish abortions have higher termination rates than countries that permit and support these procedures. 

Africa records 6.4 million abortions every year, with 1.7 million hospitalised with complications. South Africa, Tunisia and Cape Verde are the only countries on the continent which permits abortion. – Additional Reporting from Online Sources

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