Abortion – a woman’s right?

In Zambia we have rather tricky abortion laws. Abortion is not totally outlawed and Zambia is even known to have the most liberal abortion law in the region. However it’s not very straight forward to have one done either as the law provides that “abortions can only be carried out in Zambia if three  separate doctors certify that the life of the mother is in danger’. It is also a highly stigmatized topic that is completely taboo for most people. And as Zambia is a ‘christian nation’ (which really only means gay rights and abortion rights are limited) people tend to tell themselves that abortions are wrong – end of story. If it only was that simple! Unfortunately life is a bit more complicated than that and as many  women are desperate to have an abortion, unable to have a legal one done at the hospital, turns to the alternatives. It’s these alternatives, readily available, that are the problems. The woman’s health is put at great risk as she turns to herbal doctors, dirty back ally ‘clinics’ or the discrete Chinese doctor in the neighborhood. Earlier this week I watched the news in horror, police had raided an alleged abortion clinic, it was awful, small dark rooms with dirty instruments and bloody sheets left and a Congolese man on the run. Every year hundreds of women are damaged for life after having gone through illegal and unsafe abortions. Many die from the complications. The only way to eliminate the illegal abortions is to make it easier to have safe legal abortions done at the nearest hospital. What we need is a system where the woman truly has the right to decide over her body, and a society that does not stigmatize the issue. Only then can we properly tackle the issue of unwanted pregnancies and work towards minimizing the need for abortions all together.

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