Malawian Archbishop Opposed to Liberalization of Country’s Abortion Laws Calls for Referendum

Archbishop Thomas Luke Msusa of Blantyre has publicly criticized the Malawi government’s proposed Termination of Pregnancy Bill, which would legalize abortion in cases of rape, incest, fetal abnormalities and when the physical or mental health of the woman is at risk. The current law in Malawi proscribes abortion in all circumstances except when the life of the pregnant individual is at risk and the country currently has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world. The Guttmacher Institute reports that the majority of abortion procedures in Malawi are performed in unsafe conditions and estimates that complications from clandestine abortions account for between six and 18 percent of maternal deaths in the country. The move to liberalize abortion laws in Malawi is reportedly in line with a popular and governmental initiative to address women’s rights and obligations from international treaties. Despite the human rights implications, Archbishop Msusa has condemned the move as a sidelining of religion in the regulation of morals and called for a referendum on the issue.

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