Health

Women rights activists ask church to speak against early marriages, support safe abortion

Patrick Mwesigye, the Founder and Executive Director of the Uganda Youth and Adolescents Health Forum (UYAHF)

Patrick Mwesigye, the Founder and Executive Director of the Uganda Youth and Adolescents Health Forum (PHOTO/Courtesy)

KAMPALA – Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) have remained Ugandan authorities and the Church of the need to legalize safe abortion services, arguing that mothers have to be saved from unsafe abortions.

Abortion is the deliberate termination of the growing human pregnancy, most often performed during the first 28 weeks.

Unsafe abortion is among the leading causes of maternal mobility and mortality in Uganda, contributing to approximately 28 per cent of the estimated 6,000 maternal deaths every year and an estimated 40 per cent of admissions for emergency obstetric care.

This means unsafe abortion is among the leading silent killers of Ugandan mothers.

Patrick Mwesigye, the Founder and Executive Director of the Uganda Youth and Adolescents Health Forum (UYAHF) told reporters at the sidelines of the She Decides event held in Kampala that said several women in Uganda suffer severe morbidities and other instances including unintended pregnancies stemming from rape, defilement, incest.

He said that all instances warrant that abortion is legalized to have women dignity preserved.

“Pregnancy should be by choice not by chance,” Mwesigye said, noting that adolescents should be in a position to prevent pregnancy either through contraceptives or safe abortion.

“We believe that safe abortion should be made accessible to all women and girls who choose to have it,” he said citing instances of rape, defilement, and incest.

“Unplanned pregnancies are one of the root causes of most safe abortions. Preventing unintended pregnancy and the abortions that often follow, would eliminate nearly all injuries and deaths resulting from unsafe abortion,” he said.

However, he said there is a need for a legal document to guide doctors while conducting abortions.

Mwesigye explains that abortion contributes about 28% to maternal mortality and very many adolescents and young women are victims but if safe abortion was legal, it couldn’t be this worse.

In Uganda, termination of pregnancy is prohibited but is permitted only under circumstances intended to preserve the life, mental and physical health of a pregnant woman but several medical personnel are not aware of this exception.

Some of the scenarios under which abortion is allowed under the provisions above include; when the health of the mother and the unborn child is in danger.

Mwesigye also urged the church to speak against all adolescent marriages, gender-based violence, and all other marriages instead of denying young girls from accessing sexual education.

He cited that the same people who always go to church to pray, are the ones who force these young girls into early marriages.

According to Faith Kyateka the Head of Communications and Policy at Marie Stopes Uganda, it’s better for women to be empowered to make decisions on their health, that Mari Stopes has trained several health workers to help these women hit their health goals as well as encouraging young girls to stay longer in school to avoid early marriages.

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