By Ethel A. Tweh
Senate Pro-tempore Albert Chie has clarified here that there is no stand-alone bill on abortion before the Liberian Senate contrary to public perceptions.
Delivering his opening statement Tuesday, August 22, 2023, at the return of the 54th Legislature to a special session, Senator Chie pointed out that rather, there is only a new chapter in the new Public Health Bill on sexual and reproductive health.
According to him, this new chapter addresses issues of sex education, family planning and abortion.
“Let me also point out that there is no stand-alone bill on abortion before the Senate, as it is being perceived in some quarters; but rather, there is a new chapter in the new Public Health Bill on sexual and reproduction health,” he said.
The Pro-tempore’s clarification comes amid long-standing claims and counterclaims in the public that there is a bill currently before the august body to address abortion.
The bill, when passed into law, per public speculations, seeks to determine at what time and at what condition can a pregnant woman be given the right to legally abort a pregnancy.
But reacting to the claims, Sen. Chie indicated that the bill came to the Senate from the House of Representatives for their concurrence.
He added that joint hearings were conducted by the Committee on Health of both Chambers before the House passed it.
Chie, who is seeking reelection, revealed that at the Senate, several consultations and public hearings have been held, adding that the body has not arrived at a final version for approval by Plenary.
“The bill has been at the Legislature since February 2020 and is, therefore, not a new legislative instrument.”
At the same time, the Senate Pro-tempore has condemned what he terms, lies being propagated by people who have little or no understanding of the various issues contained in the proposed new Public Health Law and transparent manner in which the debate has been proceeding in the Senate.
“Fellow citizens, we are appalled by the interference in our legislative process and condemn the lies which are being propagated by people, who have a little or no understanding of the various issues contained in the proposed new Public Health Law,” he said.
At the same time, the Senate Pro-tempore has lauded local stakeholders, international partners of the Liberian government and health professionals who worked along with the Ministry of Health and others in the public.
According to him, the said collaboration helped to prepare the revised public health bill, coupled with participation in the various consultations for the approval of the instrument by the Legislature. Editing by Jonathan Browne