Zimbabwe relaxes abortion lawsBy KITSEPILE NYATHI in Harare | Saturday, August 4 2012 at 12:09
In a bid to reduce maternal deaths, Zimbabwean Government has directed all hospitals to treat women who illegally abort without referring them to the police.
Abortion, which is illegal in Zimbabwe, accounts for 5.8 per cent of maternal deaths recorded in the country every year.
Health and Child Welfare minister Henry Madzorera said medical staff was no longer required to refer cases of women seeking post abortion care to the police.
“Everyone who has aborted and come for treatment will not be reported to the police because that is not our mandate,” he said.
“We treat everyone regardless of the circumstances of abortion. Health workers are not policemen.
“All we want is to prevent death from haemorrhage, post abortion sepsis and other complications that may arise.
“Some people may end up with infertility for life, so we want to prevent women from suffering such consequences.”
Abortions are outlawed under the Termination of Pregnancy Act of 1997 but legalised in cases of rape and when the pregnancy endangers the life of the mother or the unborn child.
But it is believed that between 60,000 and 80,000 unsafe abortions are recorded every year throughout the country.
Last month, Zimbabwe scrapped maternity user fees at public health institutions as part of efforts to reduce the number of women who die while giving birth.
Expectant mothers had been paying up to $50 at council clinics and between $100 and $200 at public hospitals depending on the method of birth.
According to statistics, the number of women dying during delivery had increased from 725 deaths for every 100,000 live births in 2007 to 960.
Zimbabwe is lagging behind in efforts to achieve the United Nations millennium development goals by 2015 on reducing maternal deaths and combating HIV.
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