[bsa_pro_ad_space id=1]

GeneralLiberia news

SALI aims to mitigate Liberia’s 38,000 illegal abortion

--Dialogues with media practitioners on importance of Sexual Reproductive Health Rights

Unsafe abortion is among top causes of maternal illnesses and deaths and the treatment of abortion complications drains resources of health systems.

By Lincoln G. Peters

Monrovia, March 20, 2024: A record number of more than 38,000 illegal abortions has been recorded to have taken place in Liberia. 

The figure is found in a joint study on abortion incidences in Liberia conducted by the Clinton Health Access Initiative, the African Population and Health Research Center, and the Guttmacher Institute.

The figure, which is for 2021, according to the report, shows an induced abortion rate of 30.7 per 1,000 women and a ratio of 229 abortions per 1,000 live births.

To increase public education and awareness of the importance of abortion law, Sister AID Liberia (SALI) Inc., a national not-for-profit organization, recently held a one-day Public Health Policy dialogue engagement with media personnel.

Unsafe abortion is defined as a procedure of terminating a pregnancy that is performed by persons lacking the necessary skills or in an environment.

It is done not in conformity with minimal medical standards or both. Unsafe abortion is among the top causes of maternal illnesses and deaths, and the treatment of abortion complications drains the resources of the health system.

[bsa_pro_ad_space id=1]

“To address abortion-related complications in the country, the study recommends advanced legal and policy reforms that address the causes of unsafe abortion and unwanted pregnancies,” the study said.

The study is aimed at estimating the incidence and severity of abortion-related complications.

This study, the first of its kind, comes as abortion remains illegal and punishable by a jail term of up to three years in prison as the country is deeply religious and vocal in its condemnation of abortion.

Existing law in Liberia, particularly section 18.2 of the Penal Law of Liberia, is abortion only in cases of abnormality, danger to the mother’s life, or risk to her physical or mental health.

Medical exemptions require written approval by at least two doctors. In cases of rape or incest, proof must be provided in court.

“About 38,779 induced abortions occurred in Liberia in 2021, resulting in an induced abortion rate of 30.7 per 1,000 women of reproductive age and an induced abortion ratio of 229 abortions per 1,000 live births,” the study found.

To address this concern, Liberia’s House of Representatives passed a new Public Health Law in 2022, which, among other things, seeks to provide sexual and Reproductive Health Rights to women across the country.

The bill is currently being debated by the Senate, where the government needs the support of two-thirds of senators for it to be passed.

But policymakers are describing the law as wicked and evil on grounds that it aims to promote abortion.

Consequently, what lawmakers failed to realize is whether the law is passed or not, illegal abortion will continue to be a challenge, with the death expected to increase as the year goes on.

The bill also contains a range of other public health elements. It would make abortion legal up to 18 weeks of pregnancy if a doctor does it. The original version of the bill had made it 24 weeks. Abortion law reform may be dropped from the bill altogether to ensure the rest passes.

Recently, SALI held a dialogue engagement with media personnel on the speedy passage of the draft of the new Public Health Law in Paynesville, Montserrado County.

Project Lead Mr. Titus B. Pakalah told the gathering that the dialogue is a part of the project titled “Advancing a Framework for Public Health Delivery Through Advocacy and Training in Liberia.”

This initiative is funded by African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC).

The dialogue aimed to facilitate joint, concerted actions for the speedy passage of the draft new Public Health Law.

According to Mr Pakalah, the focus of the dialogue engagement was to capacitate media personnel, strengthen synergies, and arouse diverse stakeholders’ interest in presenting a unified voice to lawmakers and the general public regarding the urgent need to pass the draft public health law.

“There have been too many streaky issues, and how can we keep firm our message as media practitioners to meet the interest of our demographic population on the discussion surrounding sexual reproductive health rights and sexuality education across the country,” he mentioned.

“This is the part of the project that needs your intervention. We will meet with the traditional leaders and elders, as well as the Liberian Senate, to pass this revised health law.”

Also speaking briefly, SALI Program Director Ms. Patricia Z. Gaye welcomed the participants and expressed excitement for the huge attendance.

She told the participants, “As we gather to strategize on our advocacy approach, we want you to add your voices for the passage of this new Public Health Law at the level of the Liberian Senate.”

The engagement was interspersed with expert presentations, followed by a dialogue exchange between the presenter and the participants during a brainstorming collaborative problem-solving session.

[bsa_pro_ad_space id=1] [bsa_pro_ad_space id=2] [bsa_pro_ad_space id=3] [bsa_pro_ad_space id=4] [bsa_pro_ad_space id=5] [bsa_pro_ad_space id=6]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button