Abortion Law Reform: Campaigning for Change
19 September 2016


Zambian economist Highvie Hamdudu confers with his Cameroonian
counterpart Marie Rose Nguini Effa during the TICAD discussion

Debate on achieving reproductive health in relation to abortion at TICAH, Kenya

Kenya’s Health Principal Secretary Nicholas Muraguri argued that the debate on legalising abortion should instead be turned into a campaign to prevent teenage pregnancies, at a discussion on reproductive health in Africa during a side meeting organised by the African Union Commission’s Department of Social Affairs at the 6th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD) in Nairobi.

“We remain committed as a country to ensure that people are able to access all the services they need and the debate about abortion can continue. But more important, we know that abortion is a reflection of unwanted pregnancies. We need to step back and ask ourselves, 'Why are we making them pregnant when they don’t want to get pregnant?’ That is where the debate should start. We don’t ask ourselves those questions,” he said.

In response, Tewodros Melesse, Director General of the International Planned Parenthood Federation, responded that “This thing of moralising when the women are dying… I think this issue of morality has to come to a professional discussion. There are so many things about morality. We can talk about food, we can talk about so many things but I think abortion has to be taken not as an issue of morality but an issue of health."...



Abortion rights advocates respond to conservative clerics over abortion bill

The Ministry of Health of Uganda has continued to consult on the issue of abortion law reform legislation and is expected to present a draft bill in Parliament shortly.

In a public debate on the issue, Dr Charles Kiggundu, President of the Association of Gynecologists and Obstetricians of Uganda spoke in favour legalisation, noting that health workers dealing with maternal health are confronted daily with women coming to them with complications of unsafe abortion, including infections and perforated uterus. He believes the change of law and guidelines will help to resolve the situation for many health professionals.

The Centre for Human Rights and Development (CEHURD) executive director, Mr Moses Mulumba, said "religious leaders should know that in about 160 countries where legislation allows abortion on broad indications, there is a lower incidence of unsafe abortion and much lower mortality from unsafe abortions, as compared to legislation that greatly restricts abortion like in Uganda."...



Doctors challenge Health Minister over medical abortion pill restrictions
Doctors and abortion rights advocates are taking the Health Ministry to court for failing to provide clear guidelines about the use of medical abortion pills, according to medical journal Medisch Contact.
Early abortions have always been done outside the abortion law and are not subject to the same restrictions, including the 5-day waiting period. Many women prefer to go their GP instead of to a hospital or clinic. But now the Health Minister Edith Schippers is introducing a new law that will require GPs to apply for licences to provide the pills, under which both early abortions and the doctors would be subject to the criminal law. Doctors and advocates see this as a serious deterioration of abortion rights that will lead to reduced access and later abortions. According to Medisch Contact, the case may be heard at the end of September or in early October...




Sarah Cope
Green Party supports decriminalisation of abortion
At its autumn conference, members of the UK Green Party voted overwhelmingly in support of a motion proposed by Sarah Cope, the party’s Women’s Spokesperson, which said:
"The Green party believes that no woman should face imprisonment for ending a pregnancy. A Green government would ensure that abortion be removed from the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act and instead governed by the same robust regulatory and ethical frameworks as all other medical procedures. As abortion is a devolved issue in Scotland and Northern Ireland, it is intended that this policy would apply to England and Wales."

Cope told the conference: "The Green Party already has an excellent and progressive abortion policy… However, what we do not address in our current policy is that the 1967 Abortion Act, which did not extend to Northern Ireland, did not get rid of the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act or decriminalise abortion, but instead carved out therapeutic exemptions to the OAPA (and equivalent common law in Scotland) and allowed abortion where women and doctors met certain requirements."...



Dr Caroline Gannon
Paediatric pathologist quits over NI's abortion law
Dr Caroline Gannon, a paediatric pathologist, has resigned over NI's abortion law in relation to fatal fetal abnormality. Northern Irish women with a diagnosis of serious fetal anomaly who seek an abortion are forced to travel outside Northern Ireland for it. If they want a pathology report on the baby afterwards, they have to find their own way to bring its body back to Northern Ireland, where Dr Gannon was one of the two pathologists doing these examinations.
She said the final straw was when she had to advise a couple
to use a picnic cooler bag to return their baby's remains to NI for examination following an abortion in England. "I just felt I was acting unethically by taking part in this system where parents are denied a voice in what happens to their baby," she said...




Campaign launched to modernise the Isle of Man’s abortion laws
The Isle of Man’s Termination of Pregnancy (Medical Defences) Act denies women access to basic medical care and forces them into secrecy and shame. Ahead of elections later this month, a new campaign aims to bring about much needed reform.
The Campaign for Abortion Law Modernisation (CALM) wants to bring the Isle of Man's law in line with the UK. Their law is up for review in the next parliament on the island.  People can travel from the island to the mainland UK for health care such as cancer treatment, neurological surgery and even complicated antenatal care. The National Health Service on the Isle of Man foots the bill, including travel and accommodation. Abortion is one of the few exceptions. CALM believes that the time is ripe for a long-overdue change.


Editor: Marge Berer

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