19 May 2012

Zambia: Concern Over Reproductive Health Rights

THE Planned Parenthood Association of Zambia (PPAZ) has expressed concern over article 52 contained in the new draft constitution saying the article has been overshadowed by article 28(1) of the same draft.

In a statement in Lusaka yesterday, Executive Director Edford Mutuma said article 52 which states that women had the right to reproductive health including family planning and access to related information and education was overshadowed by article 28 (1) which states that a person had the right to life which begun at conception adding that conception from a medical perspective was a vague term.

He said the article could cause confusion for medical professions and could lead to restrictions on women's reproductive health services including some types of contraception.

Mr Mutuma said medical authorities defined conception as the point at which a fertilised ovum was implanted into the wall of the uterus but that older medicals sources and interest groups working to restrict women's reproductive health services defined it as beginning at fertilisation adding that determining the moment of fertilisation was problematic as it had no widely accepted biological marker.

He said that if the right to life was considered to begin at conception then some medical procedures and reproductive health services may become unconstitutional. Mr Mutuma opposed the clause that stated that life begun at conception because it would compromise the human rights of women in Zambia.

"In order to be consistent with international human rights law, the Zambian Constitution cannot contain such a clause," Mr Mutuma said.

And some Kitwe residents have collected the draft constitution and submissions based on the contents were expected to start flowing.

A check yesterday at three parliamentary offices showed that a good number of draft copies were collected since they were delivered last week on Friday by the technical committee.

At Wusakile constituency, 28 copies were distributed to the wards, churches, leaders of private institutions and Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs) operating in the constituency and a group of five individuals.

Professional assistant Ricky Kamboyi said the response was overwhelming and anticipated that submissions would soon start flowing in.

The constituency received 250 copies of the Draft Constitution. In Kamfisa, three people have made submissions after the draft copies were distributed to the wards, churches, NGOs, schools and individuals.

Professional assistant Rachael Kapembwe however, called for more sensitisation to encourage wide participation so that an all inclusive constitution could be drawn.

In Chimwemwe, 30 out of the 270 draft copies received had beendistributed to the citizenry.

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