What’s in the proposed abortion law?


As the discussions on abortion law reform continue, here are some excerpts of the proposed Termination of Pregnancy Bill. Quick reminder! The Special Law Commission that made these recommendations after two years of consultations comprised of representatives from the Ministry of Health, the Judiciary, faith and traditional leaders, the Law Society, the Ministry of Justice and the Malawi College of Medicine.

Part I—Preliminary Short Title and Commencement

  1. This Act may be cited as the Termination of Pregnancy Act (of Year), and shall come into force on such date as the Minister shall appoint by notice published in the Gazette.


  1. In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires— “certified health service provider” means a licensed medical doctor, clinical officer, registered nurse and midwife, nurse midwifery technician or medical assistant who has been certified by health Short title and commencement Interpretation professional regulatory bodies to carry out a termination of pregnancy; “conscientious objection” means refusal on moral or religious grounds to perform a procedure that is against one’s conscience; and “health professional regulatory bodies” means the Medical Council of Malawi and the Nurses and Midwife Council of Malawi;

Part II Regulation of Termination of Pregnancies and Service Delivery Grounds for Termination of Pregnancy

  1. — (1) Subject to section 5, termination of a pregnancy may be performed by a certified health service provider where he is of the opinion, in good faith, that:

(a) the continued pregnancy will endanger the life of a pregnant woman;

(b) the termination of pregnancy is necessary to prevent injury to the physical or mental health of a pregnant woman;


(c) there is severe malformation of the foetus which will affect its viability or compatibility with life; or

(d) the pregnancy is a result of rape, incest or defilement: Provided that the incident of rape, incest or defilement has been reported to Police, and that the pregnancy has not exceeded sixteen (16) weeks from the date of conception.

— (2) In forming the opinion under subsection 1(b), the certified health service provider shall not take into account socioeconomic circumstances of the pregnant woman.

— (3) Except as provided in this section, termination of pregnancy shall not be performed on demand or for any other reason.

Place of Service

  1. — (1) A termination of pregnancy shall only be performed at a health facility approved by the Minister by notice published in the Gazette.

— (2) The Minister shall, when approving a health facility, take into account that termination of a pregnancy of:

(a) less than twelve (12) weeks gestation may be carried out at a health centre or hospital; or

(b) over twelve (12) weeks gestation shall be carried out at a hospital.

— (3) For purposes of this section, “hospital” means a community hospital, district hospital or central hospital.

— (4) The Minister may, by regulations, prescribe the minimum standards and facilities to be available at each approved health facility designated to provide termination of pregnancy.

Service Providers

  1. — (1) Termination of pregnancy shall only be performed by a certified health service provider.

— (2) Subject to subsection

— (1), termination of pregnancy may only be carried out by:

(a) a medical assistant, nurse midwifery technician, registered nurse and midwife where the pregnancy does not exceed twelve weeks of gestation;

(b) a clinical officer, where the pregnancy does not exceed fourteen weeks of gestation; or

(c) except as provided in section 3(1)(d), a medical doctor, at any age of gestation.

Mandatory Counselling

  1. — (1) A certified health service provider shall, as part of the service to terminate a pregnancy, provide counselling to a pregnant woman before and after the termination of the pregnancy including counselling on family planning.

— (2) Such counselling shall include:

(a) information on options of continuing or terminating the pregnancy;

(b) available methods for termination of pregnancy;

(c) possible short and long-term effects associated with each method of termination of pregnancy;

  1. d) emotional and psychological responses following termination of pregnancy; and (e) information about family planning methods.

…To be continued next Wednesday

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