Centre for Human Rights and Rehabilitation (CHRR) Board Member Undule Mwakasungula has urged human rights activists in Malawi to exercise caution when advocating for abortion, stressing that life must not be terminated willy-nilly.
Mwakasungula made the remarks in Dedza on Thursday when he opened a capacity building training on Litigating Sexual Reproductive Justice for civil society organisations.
The training took place at Kamoto Teacher Development Centre (TDC) in Kasumbu Village, Dedza.
Mwakasungula reminded the participants that life begins at conception and therefore abortion is morally wrong.
“We should not allow to end the life of an unborn baby anyhow. But we must concede that there are some limited conditions when it can be allowed in extreme circumstances. Let us allow abortion in very extreme cases where the woman or girl is in danger of losing their lives,” he said.
His sentiments come amidst revelations that unsafe abortion is the second leading cause of pregnancy related mortality in Malawi, accounting for 18 percent of all maternal deaths, which stands at 439 per 100,000 live births, and is the leading cause of obstetric complications at 24-30 percent.
Additionally, recent studies have established that 140, 000 women and girls terminate pregnancies every year, and of these 51,000 develop serious complications including loss of uterus, permanent disability, and death.
Mwakasungula described these numbers as scary.
“These are not just numbers for records, these are someone else’s mother, sister and/or aunt, and all of us here have a duty and responsibility to make sure that these avoidable deaths and disabilities from pregnancy related complications due to unsafe abortion do not happen,” he said.
He, however, stressed that instead of advocating for abortion, activists should promote alternatives to abortion such as adoption, and not denying the choice of the unborn child through abortion.
“It is therefore important to continue the conversation on abortion somberly without being manipulated, threatened or forced by anyone as a country,” he said.The training drew participants from traditional and religious background and leaders of the civil society organizations.