Calls for review of Termination of Pregnancy Act get louder

By Tafadzwa Muranganwa

A multi-stakeholders task force has been set to  pile pressure on the need to review Termination of Pregnancy  Act (ToP).

This was revealed at a ‘Right Here Right’ editor’s sensitisation workshop recently.

The ‘Safe Engage Taskforce’ comprises of government departments, civil society and researchers and is concerned that the criminalisation of abortion is leading to unsafe abortions some which have claimed the lives of many young women.

Under the Termination of Pregnancy Act abortion is permissible only under 3   conditions; where the continuation of the pregnancy so endangers the life of the woman concerned  ,where there is a serious risk that the child to be born will suffer from physical or mental defect  and where there is a reasonable possibility that the foetus is conceived as a result of unlawful intercourse.

Presenting on the challenges in the implementation of the current termination of pregnancy act , regional prosecutor from the National Prosecuting Authority(NPA),Mrs Kudzai Chigwedere  highlighted an array of hurdles young women face to terminate pregnancies .

“We have an insufficient legal framework for example the definition of unlawful intercourse does not cover cases especially with regards to sexual intercourse with a minor so the law expects   a minor to keep the pregnancy,” she said.

She also cited lack of standard application and where there is conflict of interest between the survivor and her guardians, the survivor ad her culture, as well as the survivor against her spouse or boyfriend.

This year between January and June a total of 13 applications to terminate pregnancy were   made,  according to the National Prosecuting Authority . Out of the 13, 12 have been granted and one was declined.

It is believed more   than 70 000 illegal abortions are carried out in Zimbabwe every year.