Women groups lobby for review of Termination of Pregnancy Act

Women rights groups are advocating for the review of the Termination of Pregnancy Act as it is now outdated and not meeting the needs of girls and women.

This came out during an online dissemination meeting, Tuesday, on the study of unintended pregnancies and abortion incidence among adolescence in Zimbabwe.

Speaking during the meeting, Women’s Action Group executive director, Edinah Masiyiwa said there is a need to review the Act so that it serves its intended purpose.

“Our position as a women’s organisation as well as networks of activists, as we are working on issues of abortion is that the Termination of Pregnancy Act is outdated and it’s not meeting the needs of women and girls and therefore it needs to be reviewed so that it serves its purpose,” said Masiyiwa. 

“We are also advocating for consideration on the reasons for when abortion should be allowed because for now it’s about rape, incest, condition of the mother, condition of the baby but we are saying there are more conditions than these which we are talking about, even the issue of age, someone as young as 13 or 15 if they chose to have an abortion, they should be given the right to terminate.”

She noted that communities are not aware of access to post-abortion care services.

“What we have noted is communities are not aware that they can access post-abortion care services without being criminalised. If a woman just goes to a health centre and seeks the service, the nurses and doctors will not ask if it was a criminal or a spontaneous abortion.“We have also done an analysis of the termination of pregnancy Act and the processes that are there for someone to get a certificate to terminate, and we have noted the requirements of a medical doctor to carry out a safe abortion as a barrier because in the rural areas we do not have many doctors who can assist in the termination of pregnancy,” she said.

Masiyiwa added that “As we do our work, we have made several observations, one is that if a woman or a girl wants to terminate a pregnancy they will do that whether the law allows for it or doesn’t allow for it they will do, they will find a way to terminate a pregnancy.

“We also have found out that it is cheaper to offer a safe abortion than an unsafe one. It is cheaper to terminate safely as compared to offering post-abortion care.”

She said they have also observed that abortion has become an issue of class in Zimbabwe.

“We have also noted that abortion has just become a class issue whereby in Zimbabwe those who have money can do abortion if you have your money to a private doctor you can get a termination and if you have the money you can cross over to South Africa and get a termination, so its now a class issue,” she said.

“The poor are suffering because of the current termination pregnancy Act”

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