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Debate on abortion laws continues

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The Coalition for Prevention of Unsafe Abortion (Copua) Youth Taskforce, through the Malawi Human Rights Youth Network (MHRYN), Monday organised an interface meeting in Lilongwe where stakeholders continued debating the law on abortion.

Copua, which is a grouping of different organisations championing calls for the review of provisions on reproductive health and safe abortion in Malawi, has continuously bemoaned fatalities emanating from unsafe abortions.

Minister of Sports and Youth Development, Grace Chiumia, underscored the need for Malawi to brainstorm on how deaths and injuries resulting from unsafe abortions can be avoided.

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“A study on the magnitude of incidences of unsafe abortion in Malawi commissioned by the Ministry of Health in 2009 established that over 80, 000 women and girls procure abortions in Malawi,” said Chiumia.

She said 32, 000 of these cases result in either severe injuries or deaths, adding that 17 percent of maternal mortality in Malawi is attributed to unsafe abortions.

“The poor youths are the most affected by unsafe abortions in Malawi,” she said, adding: “I don’t want to scare you with these statistics but something needs to be done to change the trend.”

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She, however, warned that while stakeholders discuss strategies on how abortion laws can be reformed, there is need to be mindful of how to navigate the country’s religious, cultural and political landscape and views on the same.

“I am of the opinion that it is high time Malawi sobered up and stopped hiding behind religion and culture to deny women and girls access to reproductive health services and rights,” said Chiumia.

MHRYN pr e s ident , Kingdom Kwapata, said by reforming abortion laws to allow girls and women to be able to procure safe abortions, Malawi is going to cut down on expenses incurred in dealing with post-abortion trauma.

He added that while it is important to advocate for the prevention of unwanted pregnancies, issues of unsafe abortion cannot be overlooked, hence the need to review relevant laws.

“It is true that prevention is better than cure, but incidences of unsafe abortions are taking place. So, these have to be dealt with using laws,” said Kwapata.

Among others, the interface meeting brought together stakeholders from the district youth offices, presidents of students unions of Central Region colleges from central region and different youth non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

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