The government of Sierra Leone was yesterday urged by youth across the country to support the review of the country's 1861 Abortion Law.
Reading out a communiqué put together by youth groups after a thorough sensitization by Ipas and the National Youth Coalition NYC at a press conference held at Ipas office on Edward Street, Ipas Deputy Media Coordinator, Stella Williams, stated that complications during abortion are a leading cause of death of young women between the ages of 15 and 24 in the country.
She maintained that nearly 25% of women in the country have an unmet need for modern contraceptives and that in most cases, women between the ages of 15 and 19 are twice as likely to have an unmet need for contraception as those who are married.
"Quality reproductive healthcare, which includes sex education, access to family planning services, safe abortion care and pre-and postnatal care is often limited or non-existent for young people. Reproductive and sexual healthcare must remain a central component of Sierra Leone's development efforts. We urge you to support the review of the 1861 Offence's Against the Persons Act Section 58 and 59 as a matter of urgency," she said.
Ms. Williams also urged the government to ensure that reproductive health is prioritized in the Agenda for Prosperity and that young people are included in the planning, monitoring and implementation of the reproductive health programme.
Ipas Policy Associate, Valerie Tucker, stated that the review of the law is important because it will help women to stop losing their lives through quack doctors.
"We want the government to support the review of the 1861 Abortion Law of the country. Its review is of importance because we will stop losing the lives of our young women. The reproductive and sexual health information and services are very important to women. Many young people are sexually active and some have dropped out of school due to unwanted pregnancy," she said.
She expressed her organization's determination to help stop the suffering of young women, and added that they want to care for the future of young people with the assistance of the government.
NYC President, Ishmael Al-Sankoh Conteh, said the issue of reproductive health is a right and that several other countries are in support of it.
"We are calling on the government to review the 1861 Abortion Law, which is Offense Against the Person's Act Section 58 and 59 as a matter of urgency. The national survey we conducted in different communities and hospitals across the country for the safety of our young people revealed that many young people have been misled by peer groups to go to quack doctors for abortion," he noted.