Namibia’s health ministry supports abortion law review

Ben Nangombe, Nambia’s health minister [Image: @bennangombe/Twitter]
Namibia’s ministry of health and has supported reviewing the current apartheid-era abortion law, citing it is outdated.

Ben Nangombe, the executive director of health and social services, yesterday said this at the ongoing public hearing of the parliamentary standing committee on gender, equality, social development, and family on the possible legislation of abortion.

The law referred to is the abortion and the sterilization Act of 1975, which the country inherited from South Africa’s apartheid regime at independence.

This law allows abortion in specific circumstances, such as rape and incest, when the pregnancy is detrimental to the mother or child involved, or when it is the result of unlawful intercourse with a woman of severe mental incapacity.

Nangombe said upon review new legislation should be enacted to address the realities on the ground.

He said there is, however, a need for a holistic approach when drafting a new bill.

“This means, we have to take into account the right to sexual and reproductive health, the safety of women, and the impact of unsafe abortions on public health including the use of long-acting contraceptives,” Nangombe said.

The recommendation to review the law comes after pro-choices’ calls to legalese abortion in Namibia intensified in June last year.

The group’s petition to amend the law garnered over 60000 signatures by September 2020.

The voices for choices and Rights  Coalition said they are not sking for more abortions but rather for the law to make services available so that individuals s can realize, feel and retain reproductive justice.”

The group said the current law should be repealed and replaced with new legislation that upholds the right to access safe abortion services.

They said abortion should be permitted on request in the first trimester (three months) of pregnancy without the approval of doctors, psychiatrists, or magistrates, while the victims of rape or incest should not be required to provide personal documentation to obtain an abortion.

Meanwhile, pro-lifers have likened abortion to murder. According to them, life begins at fertilisation, hence a foetus is a baby.