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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  • Cde Jairos Tapfuma

    cecil and company you are gays. I do not understand how you become interested in maternal issues. Do your partners fall pregnant too?

  • Cde Jairos Tapfuma

    Cecil Roars will be happy if homosexuality was legalized.

  • Mabaleka

    Thank you for such an informed contribution.

    It remains a fact that legalizing abortion ‘kurapa musoro warwadza’ and not solving the real issues underlying (Oliver Mtukudzi song, Handiro Dambudziko). What we should ask ourselves is when we say right to abortion who is the victim in this case. If you make a bad judgement, what legal remedy are you entitled to and with consideration of others rights as well. The right to kill an innocent child because of, in most cases, poor judgement, ignorance and at the worst stupidity. This l say with sensitivity to those rapped and or abused sexually. Be that as it may, in cases of rape, again the issue is education to our wonderful sisters and mothers. What options they have and even rights. At that time a woman has a right which does not affect any baby or invested party which they can take and avoid need for abortion debate. Where victim is subjected to rape, if they report the case on time (which they are legally and morally required to do by the way), such a girl, lady or woman can get access to support to avoid unwanted pregnancy. l stand to be corrected, but there is a 48 hour timeline during which a woman can get support to ensure she doesn’t get pregnant after a sexual encounter. After that, the process that has completed cannot be undone without violating someone’s right.

    So when we say lets legalize abortion, are we taking about our sisters and mothers who choose to engage in unprotected sex and later decide nje that they dont want or they didn’t want to be pregnant. what right is in that? What about the right of a ‘baby’ that has already formed. When you engage in sex without protection and even with it (sometimes) the reality is there is a probability of pregnancy, which is why since time immemorial, we have been taught not to engage in sex at young age. Its not that, young kids should not or are not capable of enjoying it, but the responsibility that comes with it, they are often not prepared and able to take.

    By and large, by making this a law, all we do is create a conducive environment that will lead to serious social decadence. Just look at African countries that have gone this route, what a misguided sense of right does to an uninformed and often uneducated and economically disadvantaged people. What we should also ask is why is this problem so much serious among the poor. Is it about pregnancy or about poverty, education and empowerment?

    Having said all, that. It will be sad for me not to say this, NO ONE has the right to kill any OTHER BEING. However, some will want to debate ‘killing’ in context of fetus. But that a discussion for another day.

  • Life

    life begins at conception, so abortion = murder

    Life is a gift from God and no one should destroy this gift no-matter how justified are their reasons.