Chiradzulu West Member of Parliament Dr Mathews Ngwale has withdrawn his intention to table a private member’s motion on Abortion Bill, saying stakeholders should continue sensitising and civic-educating people in the country about what the bill says.
Ngwale who is also Chairperson for the Parliamentary Committee on Health said a lot of people are not aware of the importance for law on safe abortion to be legislated hence it is important for people to be sensitised.
He said there is need for stakeholders pushing for the tabling of the Bill in the House to sensitize Malawians on how important it is for safe abortion to be guided by law.
Meanwhile, Centre for Solutions Journalism has commended Ngwale for the withdrawal, saying that once civic-educated about the bill, most Malawians will support its enactment so as to save the lives of women and girls who die due to unsafe abortion.
“The current withdrawal of the bill will allow advocates for safe motherhood time and opportunity to reach out to many stakeholders including cabinet ministers and Members of Parliament through sensitizations,” said CSJ Executive Director Penelope Paliani Kamanga.
According to Kamanga, it was prudent for Ngwale to withdraw the motion for now and bring it back to Parliament once many stakeholders fully understand that bill is aimed at saving the lives of women and girls who die due to pregnancy-related causes.
On his part, CSJ Programmes Advisor Brian Ligomeka explained that the withdrawal does not mean the end of the journey towards the enactment of the Termination of Pregnancy Bill but rather a journey of making smooth the path to reach to the desired result.
“Tactical withdrawals are common practices both in strategic implementation and even in military welfares. They do not mean giving up but creating opportunity for intensive activities in operations,” he said,
Ligomeka explained that it was important that Malawians should remember that it was actually the Ministry of Health that requested the Law Commission to draft the Termination of Pregnancy Bill and Hon Dr Matthews Ngwale simply adapted it.
“The proposed Termination of Pregnancy Bill which the Law Commission drafted is still intact and will be tabled as a government bill at an opportune time. The draft law is with the Ministry of Health which once is endorsed by Cabinet will be tabled,” he explained.
Malawi currently allows abortion only when it is necessary to save a woman’s life, but the proposed bill which the Law Commission drafted would allow terminations in cases of rape, incest, or when the pregnancy endangers the mother’s physical or mental health.
Unsafe abortions contribute up to18% of maternal deaths in Malawi. According to research by the College of Medicine, over 141,000 women in Malawi induce abortions every year.