February 1, 2016 By Victoria Saffa
Freetown residents have had their say over the controversial Safe Abortion Bill that was hurriedly passed in Parliament last year, but which President Ernest Bai Koroma declined to assent to. The bill is back in Parliament for ‘consultation’, a development which has split the nation right in the middle – with the Inter-Religious Council stoutly against it, while secular human and women’s rights activists are valiantly in support of the bill.
Concord Times’ Victoria Saffa was out and about last week to gauge the views of all sides in the religion versus human/women’s rights debate.
Lansana Koroma – Teacher
My name is Lansana Koroma, a teacher at the Sierra Leone Muslim Union School. I am against the Safe Abortion Bill. Majority of Sierra Leoneans are against the bill and I am calling on the government and parliamentarians to reverse the bill so that it will not create confusion for girls with their parents.
I am a teacher; I know what we are going through with our pupils, especially the girls. We have been receiving complaints from parents that their girls die through abortion and we don’t even want this to be legalised because some of them will just go to quack doctors for abortion, and they will end up losing their lives.
Amie Koroma – Petty Trader
I am a petty trader, I’m against the Safe Abortion Bill because if the country legalised safe abortion, mothers will lose their girls and we may end up recording more deaths than during the Ebola outbreak.
If this safe abortion is legalised the government will create a room for prostitution because women and girls will not be afraid to have an affair with men, and many unborn babies will be killed. I am a mother and I have two girls who are in school and I don’t want them to practice safe abortion culture because it will hinder their development.
I am therefore calling on the government and parliamentarians to reverse the signature of the safe abortion law.
Kebbie Conteh – Drugs Hawker
I am Kebbie Conteh, a drugs seller. I am very happy over the Safe Abortion Bill even though President Koroma failed to sign it into law. Even though some people see the bill as promoting inhuman acts, it has lots of advantages. In the case where a daughter is impregnated by her father, how would people expect that daughter to keep that pregnancy? Also in the case of rape, if a women or a girl is impregnated by thieves, how would people expect that woman or girl to keep the pregnancy?
I am therefore appealing with the President and parliamentarians to give their support to it, and for civil society groups to sensitise the public on the Safe Abortion Bill so that the public will know that it is a very important bill that will help deal with unwanted pregnancies.
Fatmata Jalloh – Business Woman
I am Fatmata Jalloh, a business woman and Muslim by religion. I am strongly against the Safe Abortion Bill and I am therefore calling on the government, especially the President, to condemn this bill.
I am a mother of five girls; even though the bill has some advantages, but I don’t want it to be enacted because quack doctors will misuse it. The country is now awash with technology and most of the girls know how to destroy their pregnancy without even going to quack doctors.
I am appealing to the government to stop this bill and continue to criminalise acts of abortion.
Saidu Conteh – Civil Society Activist
I am Saidu Conteh, a civil society activist. I’m against the Safe Abortion Bill since the day I heard the debate on the radio. I am therefore admonishing the government and parliamentarians not to give their support to this bill because it will lead to more deaths.
I want to thank the Inter-Religious Council for their relentless effort in condemning the bill. Abortion in both the Bible and the Quran is forbidden and there is nothing like safe abortion. People who are fighting for the legalisation of safe abortion are inhuman and they are just campaigning for the destruction of the lives of unborn babies.
These parliamentarians and those people who are advocating for the bill to be passed into law, if they were aborted, they will never have been parliamentarians. So why are they advocating for the abortion of unborn babies.
Sidiyankay Sallieu – Civil Society Activist
My name is Sidiyankay, I am a civil society activist. I was very excited over the passage of the Safe Abortion Bill by Parliament but was highly disappointed that the President didn’t give his assent to it.
There are many reasons why Sierra Leoneans should accept this bill. Even though people are not well-educated on the bill, it is good for people to know more about the bill so that they could accept it. This bill is for the benefit of every Sierra Leonean, especially women and girls.
I cannot imagine my daughter being raped by armed robbers and got pregnant and allowed to keep that pregnancy; or my wife having a complication with her pregnancy that will destroy her life and she is not allowed to abort it so that she can save her life.
Isata Kallay – Businesswoman
My name is Isata Kallay, I’m very excited over the introduction of this bill. But I was a little disappointed with President Koroma for not signing the bill. Even though I’m not well-educated I have heard about the bill through civil society activists. It will help us women because most women face complications during pregnancy and you cannot expect that woman to keep that pregnancy.
I am a woman and I know how this bill will help women and girls. I am therefore calling on the government and other civil society activists to continue to educate people about the benefits of this bill.
Alhaji Barrie – Businessman
I am a strong Muslim and strongly against the Safe Abortion Bill. I am therefore calling on Parliament not to pass the bill into law because it will affect unborn children. Many school-going girls will use the opportunity to destroy their future.
Mariama Seray Gbla – Hairdresser
I’m strongly against the Safe Abortion Bill and I don’t even want parliamentarians to continue debating it. I appreciate the decision of President Koroma in refusing to assent to the bill. I am a mother and I am against the bill. If the abortion you decide to undergo is the only child that God destined you should have, what would you do in future? I think abortion is cruel.
I want to emphasise that the Abortion Bill must be reversed and Sierra Leoneans don’t want it to affect our unborn babies as the babies may be president or parliamentarians.