The current debate on the Termination of Pregnancy Bill in Malawi which is aimed at increasing grounds on which abortion is permitted reminds me of a sad incident that happened in my home village few years ago.
A 16-year old relative named Malita was returning from a boarding school at the end of the second term. Due to the breakdown of the bus she was travelling in, she arrived in our village around 8 pm. As misfortune had it, three unidentified thugs attacked her and took turns to rape her.
The hoodlums did not only rape her but also physically assaulted. The worst part of it was that one of them stabbed her right hand during the struggle. The thugs fled the scene when they realized she was unconscious.
Hours later she regained her consciousness; and she managed to shout for help. Some passersby came to her rescue and rushed her to the nearby health centre.
A month later she discovered that during the horrendous rape incident, a wild seed was sown in her womb and she instantly made a decision to terminate the pregnancy at the same health centre where she was treated during the night she was raped.
Despite frantically begging for an abortion for pregnancy which was torturing her day and night because it made her vividly remember the traumatic rape experience she went through, the medical worker at the health centre refused to induce an abortion.
Since Malita had made a decision that she could not keep pregnancy from a traumatic rape experience, she ended up going to traditional healer. While at the traditional healer, the process of terminating her pregnancy went wrong and she started bleeding heavily.
She was rushed back to the same health centre for post-abortion treatment. She died in the hands of the same medical worker who refused to terminate her pregnancy on the pretext that the law in Malawi does not indicate rape or incest as a ground for provision of abortion in public hospitals.
My relative Malita, (May Her Soul Rest in Peace) is dead and buried just because a health worker at a clinic in our area refused to offer her safe abortion. What pains me now is the realization that the doctor was just supposed to give her some tablets of misoprostol for her to have a safe abortion. Upon taking the misoprostol tablets, abortion would have happened in form of a period or menstruation and Malita would have been alive today. I believe she would have been working somewhere and paying her tithe at our church but lo, she is dead because of the cruelty of a stupid abortion law which was written by colonials in 1890s and we do not want to change that law.
Malita is not the only girl who died because of that stupid abortion law, Ministry of Health statistics show that approximately 17 percent of maternal deaths in Malawi are attributable to unsafe abortion, making it one of the primary causes of maternal mortality.
According to research done by the same Ministry of Health, here in Malawi more than 70,000 women procure abortions every year due one reason or another, and like in the case of my relation the late Malita due to rape. Out of that huge number approximately 31,000 Malawian women are treated for complications of unsafe abortion and some die in the process.
If only we had a very good law on Termination of Pregnancy as is the case in Zambia, Mozambique or South Africa rape victims could be seeking abortion services in hospitals. But here in Malawi, girls and women who want to have an abortion do not have access to such a service because of our archaic law which the colonials wrote for us and we do not want to review it.
If Zambia reviewed its colonial abortion law, Mozambique did the same just as South Africa also did what’s wrong with us here in Malawi?
While I have respect for those who oppose abortion for their own good reasons in their families and their churches, I have no respect for anyone who opposes abortion law review that is aimed to benefit many women. Likewise I have no respect for any modern day Pharisee who abuse church financial resources but is only quick to condemn abortion law review.
It is a pity that that some currently some modern day Pharisees who fail to condemn their fellow immoral and adulterous Pharisees are on the forefront of opposing and marching against abortion law review.
By the way, why have Malawian profiteers who masquerade as prophets, pastors, apostles and even priests all along failed to condemn and march against worst paedophile scandals in the church?
The long and short of it is Malawi needs to review its abortion law so that women who have good reasons and have made choices to terminate their unwanted pregnancies can freely do so in hospitals. Anyone who tries to block such a modern law because of his or her religious dogma is an angel of death just as is the case with the medical practitioner who refused to offer an abortion service to my relative Malita after she had been raped.
Let those who want women and girls to be dying from unsafe abortions shut up their mouth as Malawi want to save women by having a liberal law on abortion.