MPs clash on abortion law

Dr Chimedza

Dr Chimedza

Paidamoyo Chipunza Senior Health Reporter—
Some members of the parliamentary portfolio committee on Health and Child Care are pushing for legislation to legalise abortion, amid revelations that 16 percent of maternal deaths are due to unsafe abortions, half of which occur among adolescents. According to the 2016 national adolescent fertility study, nine percent of adolescents between 10 and 19 years have fallen pregnant before, the majority of whom were girls from rural areas.

Speaking during the parliamentarians’ advocacy workshop on HIV and Aids in Gweru recently, chairperson of the Health and Child Care portfolio committee Dr Ruth Labode, who is also legislator for Matabeleland North province, said given the above statistics, it was only fair to allow safe abortions in unwanted pregnancies.

Dr Labode said it was a fact that teenagers were engaging in unprotected sex, resulting in them falling pregnant and wanting to terminate the pregnancies using unsafe means since abortion was illegal in Zimbabwe.

“We cannot continue denying these young women access to safe abortions, yet we know they will still proceed to abort, whether it is allowed or not,” said Dr Labode.

She said the women used a number of methods to abort unwanted babies that ranged from traditional concoctions to logs.

“Complications of unsafe abortions include excessive bleeding and infections, which may all lead to hysterectomy (complete removal of the uterus) or death in worst case scenarios,” said Dr Labode.

“So, we can continue watching our women die from things that we know.”

Dr Labode criticised the Government policy, which provides only for post abortal care, saying as responsible leaders, they should not wait to offer corrective procedures when they could actually provide for safe abortion as was happening in other countries.

Gutu South legislator Dr Paul Chimedza said legalising abortion would increase the number of abortions.

Dr Chimedza, who is former deputy Minister of Health and Child Care, said the Termination of Pregnancy Act provided for abortion if the woman had been raped, a victim of incest, the pregnancy puts the mother of the child at risk or the viability of the foetus was not certain.

“Only women who fall pregnant under these circumstances are permitted by law to abort and if you are going to take that into Parliament, some of us are going to thwart it,” he said.

Ministry of Health and Child Care director for Family Health Dr Bernard Madzima said Government was concerned with increased numbers of teenage pregnancies, as well as maternal deaths due to unsafe abortions.

Dr Madzima said the decision to legalise abortion was beyond the Ministry’s control as it took all stakeholders, including traditional and religious communities.

Asked about experiences of other countries in the region that had since legalised abortion, Dr Madzima said statistics did not show much difference in the number of abortions before and after legalising it.

“Countries like South Africa, Zambia and Kenya have legalised abortion and there has not been much difference in the number of abortions pre and post that law,” he said.

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  • RitaJoseph

    The Universal Declaration of Human Rights has “recognized” that every child is entitled to “special safeguards and care including appropriate legal protection before as well as after birth” (See UN Declaration on the Rights of the Child; also UN Convention on the Rights of the Child).

    Under the universal human rights principle of inherency, the child’s rights pre-exist birth – they inhere in the child’s humanity. “Every human being has the inherent right to life…” International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 6 (1).

    Rights are not predicated on size or seniority, or viability.

    To be eligible for membership of the human family, one has only to be a human.

    Ultrasound technology, together with biology, embryology, fetal surgery, and examination of the human remains of an abortion, all tell us that the victim targeted for abortion is a human being, belonging to the human family, a human being who can be identified as a daughter or son, a ‘who’ not a generic ‘thing’.

    True justice requires that elective abortions be recognized and treated not as harmless, idiosyncratic, personal ‘choices’ but as abusive practices, as human rights violations perpetrated by individuals and involving the complicity of politicians, judges and others.

    In human solidarity with each pregnant mother in distress, the father, their families. their communities and their governments need to work the mother’s problems– we need to work her problems not kill her child.

  • malvern tatenda

    I guess you also support the abolition of the Death sentence for the same reasons you give on abortion “Life is a gift from God and no one should destroy this gift no-matter how justified are their reasons”.

    • Life

      yes no-one should be allowed to take away life weather your own life or the next person’s.

      “Human life is sacred because from its beginning it involves the creative action of God and it remains for ever in a special relationship with the Creator, who is its sole end. God alone is the Lord of life from its beginning until its end: no one can under any circumstance claim for himself the right directly to destroy an innocent human being.

  • Profmununhema

    Mdara vataurire. Anoda kuuraya ngaauraye oga. Moda tiite Sodom ne Gomorrah. We don’t want that nonsense. Only people who regard American led organisation as blueprints to life are a danger to themselves. One even has a title on Dr but void of wisdom. Whether the old or teenagers fall pregnant they must live with it. I am surprised to her such a conflicting parliamentary standing when at one time the parliamentarians were advocating for removal of birth control now someone calls for killings. Then God made man in his image (Genesis 1:12). Kill a man, then you have killed God’s image and ultimately you are a treason candidate.

  • Cecil Roars

    I will never be afraid of who I am Jairos.