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Abortion Might be Legalised in Zimbabwe

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The issue of legalizing abortion is under discussion at various levels but however, the Ministry of Health remained adamant that they will not legalize abortion.

The Ministry of Health and Child Care says it will not lobby for the amendment of the Termination of Pregnancy Act of 1977, saying civic organisations and interested stakeholders need to take up the initiative and bring it to them if need be.

“That discussion (legalizing abortion) has to happen and people are saying that is what they want, so they should lobby the Ministry of Health (and Child Care). It is not the ministry that should lobby itself but the people themselves through various stakeholders who must lobby ministry so a Bill is drafted which will be sent to Parliament for consideration.

This was a result of the complaint levelled against the  Government for infringing women”s rights, restricting conditions for one to get an abortion which has led to an estimated 80 000 plus illegal terminations taking place in the country annually and related deaths.

“We are not duty-bound to make such calls of legalizing abortion, it is up to civic society, and the different stakeholders to say this is what we want and they take it to the minister who will then have to draft a Bill.”” said Dr Bernard Madzima the Director of Family Health in the Ministry of Health and Child Care 

Dr Madzima, however, said the issue was under discussion at various levels.

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“The issue of abortion services in Zimbabwe is an issue under discussion at various levels, in Government, MoHCC, civic society and everywhere. People are talking about it. The issue really is that our laws are there but are restrictive, and even those who are said to qualify to get the abortion services still fail to access those services despite being granted,” he said.

The Termination of Pregnancy Act of 1977 makes abortion illegal except in the case of rape, incest or when the pregnancy is posing a serious threat to the mother. Subject to this Act, a pregnancy may be terminated (a) where the continuation of the pregnancy so endangers the life of the woman concerned or so constitutes a serious threat of permanent impairment of her physical health that the termination of the pregnancy is necessary to ensure her life or physical health, as the case may be;

or (b) where there is a serious risk that the child to be born will suffer from a physical or mental defect of such a nature that he will permanently be seriously handicapped, or (c) where there is a reasonable possibility that the foetus is conceived as a result of unlawful intercourse.

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