Malawi: Sadc’s black sheep on abortion law reform


Malawi’s archaic legislation based on copy and paste of colonial legislation of the 1930s has reduced it to Southern Africa’s black sheep on abortion law reform. Only Malawi and Madagascar in the entire region compel raped women, defiled girls, and those abused incestuously into forced and compulsory child-bearing, in total violation of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights Protocol.

Malawi’s dilly-dallying to enact the proposed Termination of Pregnancy Bill puts it at the bottom of all countries in the region on the issue of abortion law reform. The shining stars in Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc) are South Africa and Mozambique, which permit abortion on six grounds.

Zambia follows with five grounds. Namibia, Botswana, Angola and Comoros, which allow abortion on four out of six conditions, follow. DRC, Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Mauritius permit abortion on three out of six grounds.


Seychelles, Tanzania and eSwatini permit abortion on two out of six grounds. Finally, Malawi and Madagascar are the black sheep, permitting abortion on just one condition—risk to life.

Malawi is in this status despite the Law Commission drafting the Termination of Pregnancy Bill, which awaits enactment, a few years ago. The table shows grounds under which abortion is provided in various countries.

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