Doctor Group Wants Abortion Legalized In Liberia

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Doctors in support of the Revised Public Health Law, representing a diverse group of healthcare professionals, want the law passed especially the section of legalized abortion.

   According to the spokesperson of the group, Dr. Richard J. Doe, a medical doctor, the proposed revised public health law restricts abortion on legality rather than old which was passed before allowing women to have abortion with treatment from any health facility across the country.

   Dr. Doe made the revelation Monday when the group issued a press statement to give further clarity and additional facts on the need for “safe abortion” in Liberia, held at local hotel in Sinkor.

   “While we acknowledge the rights of others to express their views on all matters, we strongly disagree with the positions that continue to criminalize abortion, especially with the current burden on the health system in providing post abortion care,” he added.

   According to him, between the period of 2018—2019, the Health Management Information System of Liberia recorded a total of 15,844 cases requiring post abortion care, reported at multiple health facilities.

   Dr. Doe maintained that this figure significantly underrepresents the true burden due to the criminalization of abortion, leaving countless unreported cases those who never made it to the facility alive.

   He asserted that in Liberia 16 percent of all pregnancies end in abortion, according to a recent study conducted in Liberia between October 2021 and March 2022 by the Ministry of Health and its partners, Clinton Health Access Initiative, the African Population and Health Research Center, and the Guttmacher Institute, which revealed that the national abortion incidence for the year 2021 was 38,779, thus, giving Liberia an induced abortion ratio of 229 abortion per 1,000 live births amongst women of reproductive age.

   “This high ratio of induced abortion could be the effect of section 16.3.4 of the Liberian Code of Law (Penal Law), which allows self-abortion before 24 weeks of pregnancy. This law creates the possibility for women and other unqualified persons to use harmful substances like cassava stick, broken glass bottles, potassium, pepper, herbs, etc., commonly referred to as RPG, to begin the termination of pregnancy,” he said.

    Dr. Doe noted that this often leads to severe complications like infection, bleeding, organ or system failure, uterine perforation, and a high financial burden on the family and state.

   “We call upon policymakers and the Liberian government to critically consider the broader implications of restrictive abortion laws and to prioritize the health and rights of Liberian women, by legalizing abortion. Liberia can take a significant step towards promoting women’s rights, gender equality, engendering public health and subsequently instilling public confidence,” he pointed out.

   Dr. Doe emphasized, “As clinicians and public health professionals, we are dedicated to promoting evidence -based policies and advocacy that prioritize the well-being and rights of all individuals.”

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