Advocating safe abortion to prevent maternal deaths

Stigma, limited access to services, lack of education and legality of abortion are among the barriers to rural women in Malawi exercising choices about their sexual and reproductive health.

In an oral presentation at the Family Planning and Comprehensive Abortion Care: Strengthening Pre service Training conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on 4-5 April, Ephraim Chimwaza, of the Centre for Social Concern and Development in Malawi, concluded that women in informal settlements in the Mwanza district in Malawi face substantial barriers to regulating their fertility and lack access to safe abortion services.

Chimwaza, a Sex Rights Africa Network Member, told the conference that restrictive abortion laws lead to unsafe abortions and maternal deaths. A Termination of Pregnancy Bill has been tabled but it requires approval from Cabinet, enactment in Parliament and Presidential Assent. In his presentation titled ‘Factors Affecting Women Experiencing Abortion in Rural Communities in Malawi’, Chimwaza says that the longer the law takes to be enacted, the more maternal deaths will occur.

The Family Planning and Comprehensive Abortion Care: Strengthening Pre service Training conference is an international scientific conference intended to be a platform for education and research in family planning and abortion. Delegates at the conference showcased research and evidence in the form of original oral and poster presentations, plenary lectures and workshops.

Chimwaza concluded his presentation by encouraging activists to pledge to support the Malawian government to pass the Termination of Pregnancy Bill, as government has the mandate to provide comprehensive Sexual and Reproductive Health Services to all, including women and girls in rural areas.

You can download the full presentation here.

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