The Alliance of Christian Churches in Namibia (ACCN) has suggested government hold a referendum over the contentious issue of abortion. Reverend Dolly Nengushe, who is the executive chairperson of the ACCN board of trustees, believes the process of a referendum will help gauge the views of all parties involved.
The ACCN during a media briefing last week firmly rejected a proposal to allow abortion and repeal the Abortion and Sterilisation Act of 1975, which was adopted under apartheid South African rule. The current law only allows abortion to save the life of the mother, in cases of severe foetal deformity, in cases of rape or incest, or if the woman is mentally incompetent.
“The legalisation of abortion does not discourage people from having illegal and unsafe abortions. We strongly support the idea that law-enforcement in Namibia should step up if it could be statistically proven that there is an increase of illegal, unsafe abortions,” said Nengushe. She stressed that the country should not exchange the rights of unborn babies for a bowl of soup, claiming there are international bodies pumping millions of dollars into the activities of the pro-choice activists.
“The reality on the ground is that the Namibian voices regarding the legalisation of abortion on demand are not yet clearly being heard, but only clouded by the global narrative of the unborn being part of the mother’s flesh,” she added.
In principle, the alliance said it was not opposing amendments, as long as the changes do not give a licence to kill the unborn and tear down the family unit. Shirley Magazi of the Coalition of Churches and Organisations said abortion is not a reproductive health right, and therefore it is not a woman’s right.
“Our current law is not outdated, obsolete or redundant. It is still serving a purpose and protecting the lives of all, in this case the life of the mother and the unborn child,” expressed Magazi. The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Gender Equality, Social Development and Family Affairs last week conducted four days of public hearings on petitions regarding abortion with speakers from various organisations, including government ministries, pronouncing themselves on the practice. She called on Namibians to defend the respect and dignity of the unborn child, adding that abortion in essence has harmful effects.
“Abortion leads to extended adolescence of men refusing to marry and take responsibility. This, in turn, leads to delinquent behaviour, including crime and drug abuse,” she stated. Magazi hinted that there are important issues that should be focused on, like the search for a solution to reduce the incidences of baby dumping. “We should focus on preventative solutions to reduce illegal abortions, and support pregnant women in difficult situations forcing them to consider killing their unborn babies,” she stated. She said there are ways in which churches have addressed some of these issues, like encouraging their members to alleviate the burden in society by adopting unwanted babies and children.
“Government must streamline the process of adoption and educate the general public on the availability of this life-promoting option.
Initiatives by the church and faith-based organisations already exist to receive unwanted babies as a response to baby dumping. With the right support and set-up, such initiatives can be expanded in all 14 regions”, Magazi continued. Pro-Life Namibia Movement coordinator Zelda van der Colff said there is no need to change any Act.
“The act through abortion has by far the most negative consequences in a woman’s life, and that leads to the post-abortion syndrome that she has to deal with,” stated Van der Colff. She said women have the right to their body, but the Act protects the life of the defenceless foetus. “Foetuses are protected by a legal concept called nasciturus fiction, where the rights of the foetus are kept at abeyance until after live birth. The child is then able to exercise the rights.”
She said this protects the foetus’ right to be cared for, with the only requirement being to develop into a baby to be birthed alive for the principle to take effect. “Pro-Life is lobbying for the funding of Namibian Orphanages and Children’s Homes to curb the problem of children living on the streets, and the amendment of the Adoption Policy to streamline the current cumbersome adoption process.” - firstname.lastname@example.org