ZIMBABWE’S Termination of Pregnancy ACT is not only archaic but takes away women’s body autonomy and power to make decisions about their Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR), women led Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) have said.
By Patricia Mashiri
According CSOs, the country’s Termination of Pregnancy ACT is not inclusive but dictates circumstances and conditions under which the pregnancy of a woman may be terminated.
Ms Ednah Masiyiwa, Executive Director Women Action Group said the Termination of pregnancy Act is non-operational and does not meet the needs of the women and girls in which it is intended for them.
We as the Civil Society groups we call for the revision of the Termination of Pregnancy Act as it is out-dated and does not meet the needs of women and girls. It is actually cheaper to have a safe abortion as compared to offering post abortion. Safe abortion is health care, lets provide health care for our adolescent girls. It is a sad reality that many adolescent girls practice unsafe abortion and end up suffering,” said Ms Masiwiya.
She added that abortion has become a classy issue whereby the rich have safe abortion through private doctors or outside the country whilst the poor are suffering. In most cases, the poor end up practising unsafe abortions.
The country’s existing Termination of Pregnancy Act (TOP ACT V (No. 29 of 1977) was adopted in 1977 and only permits women to access safe abortion if the physical health of the life of the mother is at risk, if there is a possibility that the child will be born with either a mental of physical disability and if the pregnancy was as a result of unlawful sexual intercourse. Unlawful sexual intercourse is defined as rape, incest or sexual intercourse with someone with a mental handicap.
In Zimbabwe, 30 percent of maternal deaths are linked to abortions as young women and women in general engage in backyard abortions due to the legal environment which makes it difficult for women to access abortion services without any hindrances.
Katswe Sisterhood Programs Manager and legal expert, Advocate Debra Mwase said there is a huge policy gap concerning the termination of pregnancy in the country which needs to be looked into.
“There are top policy gaps which need to be looked into; these include limiting provision of who can perform a termination ie a medical practitioner. Limits access for adolescents. Also, procedure before termination can be done are cumbersome and have no timeless which makes it difficult for girls to access service. In cases of minor children, consent of parent or guardian is required before termination can be done and a problem comes if parent or guardian refuses termination of that pregnancy,” Mwase said.