The Daily Monitor of June 8 carried a story, ‘Government issues new abortion guidelines’. According to the article, the guidelines are meant to address “maternal morbidity and mortality from unsafe abortions in Uganda”, which the president of the Association of Gynaecologists and Obstetricians, Dr Charles Kiggundu, put at 1,500 deaths daily.
In Uganda, abortion is illegal. Isn’t it. Therefore, more appropriate to find a sustainable solution to this problem? Have we exhausted all avenues of making family planning services and contraceptive education available to all Ugandans? Must we legalise abortion or provide alternatives to it? What is the success rate of prosecution of people who have carried out abortions in Uganda? How do you save life by taking away another? Is it only a choice of those living or the unborn child’s as well?
The death penalty, even though it’s still on our law books, has not been implemented since 1999; there is a national sense of right and wrong that the law be expunged from our law books.
Timely post-abortion care is a human health right falling in emergence medical and health services care that must be provided. As a country, it is high time we invested in programmes that facilitate post-abortion care or treatment. Many people have argued that the absence of an enabling law is one of the reasons why abortions claim lives, or impair young girls.
Some of the key questions to ask are: Can abortion be done safely by trained medical personnel as listed by the guidelines? Does this service benefit all Ugandans regardless of their cultural or religious beliefs? Is it enough to treat the symptoms rather than invest in measures to address the problem comprehensively?
We must acknowledge that abortion and its attendant problems are more expensive than investing in family planning. Let us, therefore, promote family planning and educate the population on reproductive health right from schools.
Most importantly, let us facilitate discussions on the management of abortions and related health cases. Uganda has divergent cultures, social and religious beliefs and contemporary challenges. Let us be honest and speak out because many young girls are dying as a result of unsafe abortions. Legitimised practice has been found to reduce loss of life.