Inter-Religious Council meets to discuss Safe Motherhood and Reproductive Health Bill 2021


September 9, 2021

The Inter-Religious Council of Sierra Leone (IRCSL) during their national inter-faith summit deliberated on the proposed safe motherhood and reproductive health Bill 2021.

The inter-faith summit which took place at Saint Anthony’s Hall, Syke Street, Freetown recently, was supported by the Catholic Agency For Overseas Development (CAFOD).

The summit was a response to the correspondent  received  from the Ministry of Health and Sanitation about the proposed bill.

Speakers highlighted vital information on biblical implications of abortion among others issues.

IRCSL Rapporteur, Rev. Fr. Dr. Victor Suma while reading the position paper of the summit, recalled that five years ago similar summit was called where the inter-faith discussed about the safe abortion bill presented by a private member Isata Kabia and how it was rejected by the inter-faith as it undermines many things in the nation.

Five years later, the same bill has been presented to them in a different format of reproductive health among other areas but emphasised that there is one key thing that excited the inter-faith attention “abortion”.

“We did not reject the Bill hook line and sinker, all that has been presented in that document we gone through it responsibly but the red flag remain abortion. We recommended that the consultation on the issue continues, window of dialog be opened for all and sundry but it important that we note that this has to be clarified.”

The inter-faith seeks clarification to know the actual author because the government ministries representatives denied responsibility of the said correspondent.   

“As religious leaders it is clear for us that abortion is a no go area especially when it is legalised in the nation,” Rev. Suma said.  

He went on to say that the intention to domesticate the Maputo accord is a lauded effort because it contains many things but to domesticate it especially of the people’s moral background and resilience will create more problems in the nation.

Experts submitted their position on the danger of abortion from their religious, legal and moral points.

IRCSL President Rev. Dr. Edward Tamba Charles reflected on how the first Bill was not signed by the former president of Sierra Leone Ernest Bai Koroma some six years ago.

Sierra Leone Bar Association General Secretary, Abdul Karim Koroma apologised for not commenting in detail because they did not study the document properly as they only received it nearly 24 hours before the summit.

He said the only way forward is consultation and they are ready for any future consultation identified by the Inter-Religious Council. 

The Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Sartie M. Kenneh, said the document was born from the Health Ministry and they are trying to get cabinet approval before they start engaging the legal people if cabinet approves and at the same time start talking about the bill.

Giving a Biblical point of view, the President of PFSL and General Overseer of Living Word of Faith Outreach Ministries International, Bishop Akintayo Sam-Jolly asked his audience if they are preparing to seat on the same matter after another five years.

He emphasised that whatever they put out they hope it will put a permanent seal to what values that guarded their community, culture and nation.

He said they are extremely mindful that they must not allow that which will bring the wrath of God upon their congregations and the nation under their watch.

Bishop Akintayo Sam-Jolly after quoting a number of scriptures justifying his points from a biblical point of views said to commit an act of abortion is to interfere with and abort God’s process and slay a human life that is ordain.

He said to abort a baby is to slay innocent life and it is an offence in God’s eyes and it brings curses upon a nation which in turn leads to untold suffering.

He said they have enough spiritual trouble to intercede for and they are not preparing to stand by and see more come on the land.

On the religious perspective, Sheikh Ibrahim Barrie Executive Member IRCSL Islamic highlighted seven problematic points if the bill is enacted.

He said Islam thus not allow abortion, as lots of verses are in the Quran to justify that.

He spoke about the concept of legalization of sexuality and how the bill will undermine the family, marriage institution, erode freedom of expression, erosion of religion and re-sealant of the nation.  

Statements were also made by the former Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Dr. Priscilla Schwartz and the Director of the ministry of Social Welfare among others.