By Michael Gwarisa
NON governmental organisations operating in Zimbabwe are caught between a rock and a hard surface as to whether they should support safe abortion or not as they fear frustrating top donors, HealthTimes can reveal.
It has emerged that the United States Government is by far the biggest donor in most if not all donor related activities in Zimbabwe, and the recent move by the Donald Trump administration to stop financing any organisation that advocates for abortion has left many NGOs in a state quandary.
Briefing Journalists during a Media workshop, Save the Children Zimbabwe Acting Country Director Patience Matambo said in as much as they might support the idea of safe abortion there are certain issues issues beyond their control that prohibit them from doing so.
“The United States took a position in terms of abortion which states that the US would not support or fund any organisation that supports safe abortion.
“The European Union (EU) still can fund abortion but as an organisation, our position is to comply with with the Mexico City Policy,” said Matambo.
The Mexico City policy is a US government policy that blocks U.S federal funding for non-governmental organizations that provide abortion counselling or referrals, advocate to decriminalize abortion or expand abortion services.
From 1973 , the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has followed the Mexico City Policy for 17 of the past 32 years.
The Mexico City Policy is a U.S. government policy that when in effect has required foreign non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to certify that they will not “perform or actively promote abortion as a method of family planning” with non-U.S. funds as a condition for receiving U.S. global family planning assistance and, as of Jan. 23, 2017, any other U.S. global health assistance, including U.S. global HIV (under PEPFAR) and maternal and child health (MCH) assistance.
The policy was enacted by Republican President Ronald Reagan in 1984, rescinded by Democratic President Bill Clinton in January 1993, re-instituted in January 2001 as Republican President George W. Bush took office, rescinded on January 23, 2009, as Democratic President Barack Obama took office and reinstated on January 23, 2017, as Republican President Donald Trump assumed the office.
Save the Children Zimbabwe Programs Manager Linile Malunga concurred with Matambo and added that they could not work against Zimbabwe’s policy on abortion which.
“We can not work against the policy of Zimbabwe on abortion, you all now what it says, it says abortion can only be allowed if its a life threatening situation and noting else. The Mexico City policy for any organisation that’s using US money is very clear on abortion.”
However, Parliamentarians from the opposition camp led by Parliamentary Portfolio Committee chair on health Dr Ruth Labode have been pushing for abortion’s adoption over the past few months.
Zimbabwe doctors for human rights have also been advocating for adoption of safe adoption in the country.
According to Zimbabwe’s Termination of Pregnancy Act of 1997 [Chapter 15:10], no woman is allowed to terminate pregnancy willingly unless under scenarios such as rape, incest and medical complications.