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Abortion still a hot topic

04 September 2015 Author  

front Haufiku  4 SepttThe Minister of Health and Social Services Bernard Haufiku says that he has other health related priorities to tackle at this point, which do not include the controversial topic of legalising abortion.

 

Despite the increasing reports of baby dumping and the recent uproar among Government officials about the illegal sale of abortion pills in Namibia, for unexplained reasons the resistance to legalising abortion remains very firm in some quarters.

During a brief interview on Wednesday Haufiku explained that currently his focus is on maternal mortality, particularly given the disturbing fact that up to 30 percent of women in Namibia die during child labour.

“Before we visit the topic of legalising abortion we have to concentrate on educating our people about family planning and how best to avoid unwanted pregnancies.

“Our nurses also need to change their attitudes towards young woman who come to state facilities to receive contraceptives, as this also plays a role in deterring young woman from coming back,” Haufiku said.

The health minister said that although he had sympathy for young mothers or those with unwanted pregnancies, he did not want to divert his attention from tackling maternal health at this stage.

Furthermore, he pointed out that politicians did not always have to initiate and drive these kinds of changes to the law.

Communities could also voice their opinions and hold a referendum on the legalisation of abortion if they felt that was what they wanted.

He suggested that what the country could perhaps consider at this stage was to look into the procedures for obtaining permission to terminate a pregnancy.

This would include termination based on medical reasons or for women who have become victims of rape to make the rules more flexible and make it a less complicated process.

Meanwhile this week the DTA Youth League urged the Government to reconsider the legalisation of abortion in Namibia, because they said they were also concerned about the prevalence of baby dumping.

Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday the secretary general of the DTA Youth League Benson Katjirijova explained the league’s position on the matter.

He said although the DTA youth wing did not condone baby dumping, the reality was that young women often dumped their newborn babies because they felt they had no alternative.

“Why don’t you give them the right to choose to have an abortion, because as a country we have to look at abortion as an option.

“The stigma around teen pregnancies means that they are too ashamed to ask their parents for assistance, and we as a society must come to the assistance of these young mothers,” he said.

Katjirijova also noted that many of the women who dump babies come from impoverished households.

Those who could afford abortions spent large sums of money to go to other countries for the medical assistance they needed.

Last week the Windhoek Observer reported that the Namibian Police had raised its concern about the rise in baby dumping and abortion cases, which have almost become a daily occurrence.

Last week alone, the police received reports of three cases of baby dumping, with one of the cases involving a newly born baby girl that someone dumped in a riverbed in Wanaheda.Police investigations also revealed a spike in the number of people acquiring abortion pills on the black market.