Non-governmental organisation Right Here Right Now (RHRN) is advocating for a review of the Termination of Pregnancy Act, which they say is archaic.
BY VENERANDA LANGA
RHRN national coordinator, Tendaishe Changamire, told journalists on Friday that the Termination of Pregnancy Act was promulgated in 1977 and is no longer relevant for current needs of the youth and women in Zimbabwe.
The Act outlaws termination of pregnancy, which has forced many women to resort to unsafe backyard abortions.
“Our investigations, as youth advocacy organisation, showed that many people do not even know that such a law on abortions exists, and those that know that it is illegal, end up resorting to unsafe backyard abortions using dangerous instruments like wire coat hangers, herbs, and even inserting long sticks to try and remove the foetus,” she said.
“We have already approached four Parliamentary Portfolio Committees (Health and Child Care, Education, Justice and the Women and Youth Committee) to lobby for a complete overhaul of the Termination of Pregnancy Act,” she said.
Changamire said young people were becoming sexually active from the age of 12 years and illegal abortions were causing a high maternal mortality rate. She said there was need for information on contraceptives to young people so that they do not endanger their lives.
Section 3 of the Termination of Pregnancy Act says “no person may terminate a pregnancy…”
The law further stipulates three instances, when women can terminate pregnancies – where the pregnancy endangers the life of the woman concerned constituting serious impairment, where there is a serious risk that the child to be born will suffer physical or mental defect rendering them permanently handicapped and where the foetus is conceived unlawfully through rape or incest.
Women that find themselves with such circumstances are required by the Act to be examined by two medical practitioners.
Changamire said most women and young unemployed girls might find it difficult to get money for medical examination by two doctors.
The Act also stipulates that the sentence for illegal termination of pregnancy is a fine of $5 000 or imprisonment of five years or both.