Religious leaders under the Religious Network for Choice (RNC) in Malawi have expressed support for the Termination of Pregnancy Bill and have condemned assertions that those who support the bill are evil.
At a press conference in Blantyre today, the RNC members said individual faith leaders and religious mother bodies that are against the bill want to portray those that are supporting the bill as evil people who do not care about the unborn babies and their rights.
“Nothing could be far from the truth,” said the RNC members, adding, “We would like to put the record straight: that we as faith leaders under RNC care for both the unborn babies and the lives of women who die due to complications resulting from unsafe abortion.”
The RNC religious leaders said they have declared their support for the enactment of the Bill as part of the measures which the Malawi Government is implementing aimed at saving lives of women and girls from deaths due to unsafe abortions.
‘On account of the fact that the Termination of Pregnancy Bill is a product of a due, extensive, exhaustive and well-meant process, mindful that the Government is obliged by the Constitution and other frameworks to guarantee quality lives for women and children, aware of our own role to protect lives of people we minister to, we, the Religious Network for Choice, join all other Malawians in calling upon Members of Parliament to pass the Bill when it is tabled in the August House,” reads the statement.
They added that they are fully aware that this proposed Bill does not in any way replace what some religious circles believe in and it does not legalize abortion in Malawi.
“The Bill only guarantees women and girls in Malawi the liberty to decide, guided by law and their religious beliefs, on what is good for them – whether to procure safe abortion or not based on their conscience,” reads the statement.
They also noted that religious leaders and mother bodies who are against the enactment of the bill participated in the extensive consultations on the bill and endorsed the recommendations of the Special Law Commission on Review of Abortion Law.
According to the RNC, it IS difficult to understand that the same religious mother bodies which took part in the tax-payer funded work through which they came up with the findings and recommendations of the Special Law Commission report out of which the Termination of Pregnancy Bill was formulated have found it convenient today to discredit the very work which they produced.
RNC members further said that they are disturbed that these religious leaders and groups have chosen to misinform the public by claiming that the Bill legalizes abortion when they themselves settled for the decision that abortion should remain illegal in Malawi – which is the content of the Bill.
“We therefore call upon all religious mother bodies in Malawi to look into themselves and say with a straight face whether they are giving an honest account of themselves to the Malawi public in their dealings on this matter.
“But we also leave it to the Malawi public to judge these religious mother bodies on the matter of their integrity,” say the religious leaders in the statement.
In addition, RNC has commended President Dr Lazarus Chakwera for vowing not to use his background as an ordained minister to make decisions on any matter of national interest, effectively rejecting attempts by the other religious leaders who have been trying to influence the President’s position on the Bill on the basis of his being a reverend.
Among the RNC members who have signed the statement are Rev. Fr. Martin Kalimbe, Rev Cliff Nyekanyeka, Sheikh Dr Imuran Shareef Mahommed and Bishop Amos Tchuma.