Illegal abortion high in Namibia; Haufiku

27 Mar 2017 17:20pm
WINDHOEK, 27 MAR (NAMPA) – A total of 7 335 cases of abortion were recorded by the Ministry of Health and Social Services (MoHSS) last year.
The majority of abortions were committed by women younger than 25.
Health Minister, Bernard Haufiku revealed this on Monday at the bi-monthly conference on the state of health in Namibia.
“This is of major concern as unsafe abortions pose a major risk to women’s physical and mental health,” he said.
Of the cases recorded from 01 January 2016 to 31 December 2016, 7 197 were backdoor or illegal abortions, while 138 were medical abortions done at State facilities.
Abortion under the Abortion and Sterilisation Act of 1975 is illegal in Namibia, however, medical abortions are performed due to medical complications during pregnancy. Some abortions may also be spontaneous or not intentional, whereby a pregnant woman falls and loses her unborn child or by a miscarriage due to biological irregularities.
Haufiku said health professionals detect backdoor abortions when women sought medical attention due to heavy bleeding or untreated infections. He said such cases are not reported to the police due to ethical issues.
“If we start reporting the women to the police, we may be viewed as a police reporting agency and as a result will lose a lot of women who will avoid coming to the hospital.”
Haufiku said it is high time abortions are brought under debate and establish a discourse in addressing the stereotypes and controversies surrounding the controversial matter.
“We need an honest and thorough national reflection on the reasons why so many women risk their lives by resorting to unsafe abortions in a country where contraceptives are widely available.”
Most importantly, he said, Namibia need to decide if it is time to relook the relevant legislation and the decriminalisation of abortion.