By: Washington Tumay 

MONROVIA-Liberia Chief Medical Officer, Francis Kateh is one of those in Liberia who has openly welcomed abortion but wants it done safely.

Minister Kateh said it is prudent for Liberia as a country to have safe abortion law which will guard anyone who wants to carry out an abortion or terminate of unwanted pregnancy.

According to the Deputy Minister of Health, the safety law for abortion will prevent countless women from becoming victims of unsafe abortion.

Presently, the legislature has a bill to amend the position of the health law to make abortion safe.

Such amendment at public hearing sparked up serious debates with some Liberians giving their full support for said modification thus calling on the government to legalize abortion, while other Liberians have registered their total disagreement as it relates to the law to make abortion legal.

The Pill website on How to use abortion quotes Clara Mallah on the legal experts of abortion in Liberia stating, “In Liberia, abortion is only legal when a licensed physician believes the pregnancy would substantially risk the mental or physical health of the mother. It is also legal if the unborn child has any serious mental or physical defects or if the pregnancy resulted from rape. However, very few women know this option is available to them. And if they did, a licensed practitioner who would be willing to carry out an abortion is almost impossible to find.”

They further provided additional information concerning abortion in Liberia which indicated that abortion is legal in Liberia if it is done to save the life of the woman; to preserve physical and/or mental health; in the case of rape or incest; and if there is fetal impairment. Abortion is not allowed for economic or social reasons or on request.

Moreover, Pill website on How to use abortion in Liberia detailed that the Maputo Protocol states in A14 (1b) that women should have “the right to decide whether to have children, the number of children and the spacing of children” and in A14 (1c) “the right to choose any method of contraception”.

According  to the information  in  the Maputo Protocol A14(2c)  that State Parties should take all appropriate measures to “protect the reproductive rights of women by authorizing medical abortion in cases of sexual assault, rape, incest, and where the continued pregnancy endangers the mental and physical health of the mother or the life of the mother or the fetus.” In this regard, Liberia’s legislation matches the Protocol, although it has many constraining procedures.

According to the information on abortion in Liberia two medical practitioners need to certify the circumstances that justify the abortion and then those certificates must be submitted to the hospital where the abortion will take place or to the Minister of Health if the abortion is taking place outside of a hospital. Additionally, the information indicated that those steps are difficult to realize as medical practitioners may not be willing to sign the certificate due to religious reasons or the social stigma surrounding abortion.

Moreover, in the information Medical, practitioners may also hesitate if the circumstances are not sufficient as it could make them part of criminal prosecution.

But speaking on the state radio Tuesday, July 5, 2022, Minister Kateh said the Ministry is in support of safe abortion that will allow a person to be safe.

According to him, there are lots of people who have lost their lives due to unsafe abortion only because they do not have the authority to go to a health facility.

He said, most of the women and girls who get pregnant and do not want that pregnancy, will have to go to untrained health personnel to carry an abortion that sometimes results to death or destroyed their uterus which prevents them from having children.

According to him, some women use unsafe substances and insects it in them to commit abortion in the corner because they do have a safe place to go legally.

“With the legalization of the safe abortion, if passed into law by the legislature, such instrument will safe more women and girls from dying or destroying their uterus,” he said, Presently, women are unable to go to health centers or hospitals and undergo abortion through the process with care and professionalism because of the legal barrier, but if the amendment pushes through, a lady will willfully terminate unwanted child or children at her will.

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