The Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) Inaugural Women’s Parliament has adopted The Access to Safe Abortion motion which was tabled by Honourable Thuli Dladla Member of Parliament of Swaziland. The adoption comes after a one-day meeting held on the 5th of July 2017 at the Eden Bleu Hotel, Mahe Island, Seychelles which was attended by Female Parliamentarians from the SADC States, Government Officials as well as representatives from IPPF Africa Region and other Civil Society Organisations.
While moving the motion, Honourable Thuli Dladla told the House that the Commission had observed the general absence of Policy Standards and Guidelines on Safe Abortion in the SADC Region and further indicated that South Africa, Mozambique and Zambia had enacted progressive laws on access to safe abortion while Seychelles allows for abortion up to 12 weeks of pregnancy. However, there are still limited grounds for abortion in other Southern Africa States.
The motion recommends that the Forum (SADC-PF) must, among others, spearhead: the development of a Model Law on Access to Safe Abortion in the SADC Region; Member Parliaments must convene in-country consultations with young women and girls on Access to Safe Abortion; The Forum should urge all SADC Member Parliaments to decriminalise laws on abortion; Members of Parliament must promote peer learning and exchange visits to promote sharing of knowledge on access to reproductive health; A SADC Regional Consultative meeting for young women on access to safe abortion must be convened; and Member Parliaments must ensure that laws governing the age of consent must not restrict access to sexual and reproductive health services.
The motion was seconded by Hon. Patricia Kainga, Member of Parliament, Malawi. Seconding the motion, Hon Kainga noted that the right to health requires the removal of all barriers interfering with access to health services, education and information, including sexual and reproductive health. Hon Kainga further stated that: “We must urgently give effect to the Protocol of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol) which explicitly recognizes that the right to health includes access to safe and legal abortion, at a minimum, in certain circumstances.’’