Windhoek-Deputy Minister of Health and Social Services, Juliet Kavetuna, has called on the youth and the public to participate in discussions on whether abortion should be legalised or not.
“The unfortunate thing is that only religious and the political fronts are too vocal on this issue, basing their arguments on the anthropological issues which have been raised since the first debate on this dynamic issue,” said Kavetuna.
In the early 1990s, Dr Libertina Amathila and Dr Nickey Iyambo, when they were health ministers, had that discussion, with Amadhila introducing a Draft Abortion and Sterilisation Bill for public debate in 1996.
The bill was later withdrawn and plans on the topic shelved.
Kavetuna spoke at the University of Namibia (Unam) last Thursday evening at an event attended by many students and staff from that institution as well as outsiders.
The deputy minister said with the current views mainly coming from politicians and religious leaders, there will be no moving forward on whether abortion should be legalised or not unless young people speak their minds. “The youth should subscribe to the notion of ‘nothing for the youth without the youth’,” she said.
“Don’t leave this important future determinant to us as politicians to talk and decide on your behalf, as more than 85 percent of us in that chamber passed our childbearing ages centuries ago,” she said.
Kavetuna outlined the advantages and disadvantages of abortion. She also stressed the concern at the Ministry of Health and Social Services on the number of abortion cases being treated at health facilities. The rate at which this is increasing is a concern.
“More than 7,000 cases in one year. We can hypothetically conclude that more than half of these cases are forced miscarriages. It is scary and one wonders how many cases go unreported. How many fatalities due to induced abortion are out there?” she stated.
The current abortion statistics are not favourable indicators towards the country’s sexual and reproductive health and maternal indexes, noted the deputy health minister.
“We are allowing these things to happen in our communities. Let us be realistic, all of us are Christians. We were not supposed to talk about this if we were really Christians,” responded Kavetuna to comments raised during that platform that abortion is a sin.
The chairperson of the Law Reform and Development Commission, Yvonne Dausab, said the law does not solve everything, however, illegal abortions and baby dumping are a reflection of the country’s socio-economic status.
Referring to the Abortion and Sterilisation Act of 1975, Dausab stressed on the need for it to be repealed, saying it is restrictive, cumbersome and unconstitutional in that the language used is offensive.