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Malawi churches back abortion bill 'in certain circumstances'

31 October 2016, 10:10

Lilongwe - Clerics under the aegis of the Malawi Council of Churches (MCC) have expressed their support for a bill aimed at preventing unsafe abortions under certain circumstances.

According to Nyasa Times, the Termination of Pregnancy Bill awaits enactment from Malawi's parliament and makes provision for abortion in cases of rape, incest, foetal deformation and cases where full-term pregnancy may cause harm to the life of the mother.

Abortion is currently illegal in the southern Africa nation and is a punishable offence which carries a term of up to 14 years in jail.

Under the Termination of Pregnancy Bill, expectant mothers would be afforded the opportunity to seek abortion in certain circumstances without having to resort to backstreet procedures that have led to the death of scores of women.

Justice Esmie Chombo, Chairperson of the Special Law Commission, noted that the bill will seek the protection of women through the addition of more grounds as opposed to the legalisation of abortion across the country.

"We will continue to preach that abortion is a sin but we appreciate government efforts of addressing maternal mortality caused by unwanted pregnancy. We appreciate that abortion is still illegal in Malawi as law commission has informed us," said Chairperson of Malawi Council of Churches, Reverend Alex Benson Maulana.

Statistics from Malawi's health ministry have revealed that over 70 000 women seek abortions annually, with at least 31 000 of those resulting in complications and sometimes death.

While Malawi waits for its lawmakers to enact the new law, most of its neighbouring countries, including Mozambique, Zambia and South Africa, have liberal abortion laws.

- News24

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