The Coalition on Prevention of Unsafe Abortions (Copua) has appealed to foreign missions based at the United Nations in Geneva to urge the Malawi Government to speed up the reform process of abortion laws and reduce deaths of Malawian women.
Copua coordinator Chrispin Sibande made a statement to representatives of missions as part of the universal periodic review (UPR), which Malawi will undergo in May.
Calls for a review of abortion laws started in 2000, but it was only in 2013 that the Malawi Law Commission set up a Special Commission to review all abortion related laws.
Sibande told the missions that law reform was one way of addressing deaths of pregnant women through unsafe abortion methods such as using wires, bicycle spokes, washing powder and herbs.
Said Sibande: “We urge the Malawi Government to make sure that the process of review is expedited and a modern law on access to safe abortion is enacted as women continue dying.
“The review will also help government save huge resources in health, which are being spent in providing costly post abortion care. It is pleasing to note, however, that government, through Malawi Law Commission, empanelled a Special Law Commission to review all abortion related laws.”
Sibande said laws criminalising abortions were a violation of fundamental human rights such as the right to dignity, right to non-discrimination, right to health and right to life.
Copua asked the foreign missions to recommend to Malawi that government set out a clear time frame when the new law addressing abortion would be adopted and implemented, but also adopt the World Health Organisation guidelines that would allow health providers like nurses and midwives to provide abortion services.
The Malawi Government is due to undergo the review by 193 countries under the UN in May this year and report back on recommendations which the member States made in 2010.
In 2010, 36 countries made recommendations to Malawi on broad human rights issues such as child rights, women’s rights, extra-judicial killings and media freedom, among others.