Youth activist says unsafe abortions in Malawi push women and girls to death

MTAGO - Enact Termination of Pregnancy Bill

Blantyre-based youth activist Kenneth Mtago has described abortion as a complex and deeply troubling issue which is inflicting complications and deaths on women and girls.

“The restrictions and stigmas surrounding abortion in this country has severe consequences for those who seek to terminate a pregnancy. Despite the dangers and risks involved, women often find themselves in situations where they feel they have no other choice but to resort to unsafe methods to end a pregnancy,” he said.

Mtago made the observation in the area of Senior Chief Chitera in Chiradzulu during a meeting organised by the Malawi Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRHR) Alliance on Wednesday.

Representatives of SRHR groups called for T.O.P. Bill enactment

According to Mtago, the legal landscape surrounding abortion in Malawi adds another layer of complexity to the issue.

“It is a pity that the current laws only permit abortion in cases where the pregnant woman’s life is at risk. This leaves many women who seek abortions for other reasons such as rape, incest and defilement in a vulnerable position, forcing them to consider risky alternatives that endanger their health and well-being,” he said.

According to Mtago, the best intervention to ease the suffering of women and girls is through abortion law reform,

“The enactment of the Termination of Pregnancy Bill will reduce the burden of unsafe abortion in Malawi,” he said.

Together with the youth of the area, he appealed to the Member of Parliament for the area Dr Matthews Ngwale to consider re-tabling the Termination of Pregnancy Bill in Parliament.

Ngwale said that he would push the matter to Parliament explaining that “at opportune time the bill will be on the floor of Parliament.”

NGWALE- The bill will be on the floor of Parliament at the opportune time

Speaking at the same meeting Post-Abortion Care Coordinator for Chiradzulu, Blessings Kadzuwa said the problem of unsafe abortion has not spared the district.

He urged women with sexual and reproductive health challenges to seek help including post-abortion care in health facilities.

Post-Abortion Care Coordinator for Chiradzulu Blessings Kadzuwa making a presentation during the meeting

The Malawi SRHR Alliance, together with the Centre for Solutions Journalism (CSJ), Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR), Malawi Human Rights Resource Centre (MHRRC) and the Coalition for the Prevention of Unsafe Abortion (COPUA) is implementing Breaking the Barriers Project.

The social justice project aims to improve access to comprehensive SRHR services in the southern African nation where over 141,000 women procure abortion every year, according to studies by Malawi’s College of Medicine and Guttmacher Institute