KAMPALA. Over 1,500 women die from unsafe abortions in Uganda every year according to a recent Uganda Demographic and Health Survey. If the government legalizes safe abortions for women with sounding reasons, the number of maternal deaths can be reduced, reproductive health activists have said.
According to the Constitution Article 22(2), procuring an abortion in Uganda is criminal, except in exceptional circumstances like where the pregnancy puts the mother’s health in danger.
Speaking during a community dialogue at Kazo a city suburb, Mr Twaib Wamala the chairperson for Community Network for Reproductive Health Rights (CNRHR) said legalizing safe abortion will be a way of helping out the young voiceless youth who are sexually abused by both relatives and strangers.
“Every single day we receive girls who have received complications through using crude methods which are very unhygienic to abort and this has destroyed their lives as many have lost their vital reproductive organs,” Mr Wamala said.
Mr Wamala said safe abortions should be legalized for pregnancies conceived in an incestuous relationship, rape or too little spacing between the children especially if the parents are not financially stable.
He explained that approximately 40 percent of obstetric care in Uganda is a result of unsafe abortion. The government spends 7.5 billion shillings every year to treat these complications.
Ms Annet Namugosa a health worker at Nabweru Health Centre III said one of the most driving forces behind teenage abortions is rude and harsh parents who insult their daughters who become pregnant.
“Due to fear of being scolded by parents these teenage girls feel they are left with no option except to use traditional methods to remove the foetus and they end up dying in the process,” Ms Namugosa said.
She aised parents to make friends with their daughters at a tender age, so that when they become teenagers they can freely interact and talk about reproductive health issues.
Ms Namugosa added that: “Currently health centres like Marie Stopes Uganda, Kyetume Health Centre in Mukono, Mulago and Nabweru health centres provide for post abortion services but the expense depends on the extent of the complication the mother has faced.”
Reports from CNRHR of 2011to 2013 show that the high rate of unsafe abortion in the country is caused by factor which include persistently low use of family planning, abortion laws. Approximately half of the 1.2 million pregnancies each year are unplanned.
While debating a Ministry of gender ministerial statement on the 16 days of activism against gender based violence campaign last month, West Budama North, Fox Odoi, argued that the only way to curb the increasing teenage maternal deaths is by legalizing abortion.
The statement which was presented by junior gender minister, Mwesigwa Rukutana, noted that teenage pregnancies contributes to increased mortality rate which currently stands at 435 deaths per 100,000 live births as per the 2011 Uganda Bureau of Statistics.
Fox said the deaths are all because of having a “bad law” on our law books.
“You continue to lose lives because you choose to keep this law. We cannot continue to burry our heads in the sand. You cannot stop teenagers from having sex. Please legalize abortion because these young girls are dying from unsafe abortion because they know they are doing something illegal. There’s no way a child can be allowed to have a child,” he said.
SOURCE: Daily Monitor