19 February 2018

Namibia: Haufiku Reiterates Call for Abortion Debate

Windhoek — The Minister of Health and Social Services, Dr Bernard Haufiku, has re-iterated his call for a debate on whether to have a referendum on allowing the legalisation of abortion, or not. Haufiku recently said that there has been no response on the plea he made about eleven months ago on whether abortion should be legalised.

The debate, the health minister said then, should be done in the most non-biased manner.

Recently, however, Haufiku said: "I haven't had feedback yet."

Statistics availed by the Ministry of Health and Social Services indicate that 7,333 abortions were recorded in the country last year and out of these, six people died.

In 2016, 16 deaths were recorded as a result of illegal abortions, statistics availed by the health ministry indicate.

Despite it being a "controversial" topic, there is a need for everybody, especially religious groups, to think about what needs to be done to bring the situation under control, Haufiku said last year when he first called for a debate.

Despite sexual education and rights being taught in schools, young people still fall pregnant at an alarming rate, noted the health minister.

"We're not informed enough to combat unwanted pregnancies," Haufiku said.

It is not the first time that a minister of health calls for debate on abortion. In the early 1990s, Dr Libertina Amadhila and Dr Nickey Iyambo, when they were health ministers, both had that discussion, with Amadhila introducing a Draft Abortion and Sterilization Bill for public debate in 1996. The bill was later withdrawn and any plans on the topic shelved.


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