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Ipas lobbies lawmakers to decriminalize abortion

By Samuel J. Kargbo

 In a bid to address the scourge of unsafe abortion in the country, Ipas Sierra Leone, a non-governmental organization last Thursday engaged members of parliament – through the Oversight Committee on Health and Sanitation – to address the issues of unsafe abortion, the protection of women’s health and advancing women’s reproductive rights in the country.

The event, which was held at Committee Room 1 in Parliament, brought together lawmakers and civil society members.

According to the Policy Associate of Ipas Sierra Leone, Valerie Tucker, unsafe abortion is a serious issue that is affecting young girls as most of them lose their lives as a result of unsafe abortion done by quack doctors.

She therefore called on members of parliament to legalize abortion for those who are impregnated by armed robbers through incestuous relationships. She said if non-consensual intercourse results to pregnancy, it is stated in the Holy Quran that it should be terminated within 120 days.

Ms. Tucker also called on MPs and paramount chiefs to take the message to their constituents and subjects respectively, to positively influence young girls and women to stop going to quack doctors or using traditional herbs to do abortion.

Hon. Michel Sho-Sawyer opined that it was imperative that young girls are protected in the country, but cautioned that decriminalizing abortion could increase sexual activity among adolescence. He said it is often very difficult to discern that pregnancy comes about without the consent of teenage mothers. He urged the group to take their campaign to remote places in the country.

Hon. Jariatu Smith said she was in support of the campaign as it would protect the young girls from risky abortion methods. He observed that many of the girls are victims because they are impregnated by marriage men who prevail on them to abort the pregnancy, often with little regard for safety and caution.