12 August 2011
Jennifer Gatsi-Mallet of the Namibia Women Health’s Network (NWHN), said that the aim of the booklet is to ensure that information on legal abortion (legally permitted by the 1975 Abortion and Sterilisation Act indications) is made available to women and is visible in all health centres.
“We have high incidents of rape, gender based violence and if women know about the indicated legal abortion, they will seek emergency contraception soon after a rape or gender based violence,” she said.
“Very few people seem to be aware of these legal indications. …whereas the law speaks about medical practitioners being allowed to provide abortion care, in practice this is interpreted to mean that only physicians are allowed to do so. This may be because of current regulations stating that nurses are prohibited from certain tasks related to complications of pregnancies, but in December 2009 a meeting convened by the National Planning Commission agreed that nurses should be allowed to provide emergency obstetric care,” she added.
“In April 2008, officials at Windhoek’s Gammams Water Treatment Works reported that, on average, each month 13 bodies of newborn infants were found among human waste from toilets. As the testimonies in this booklet show, fear of arrest prevents some young women from seeking post-abortion care. If they do seek care, they may not receive optimal treatment,” she added.
In the meantime, she said that implementing the current abortion law to make safe abortion accessible, as well as providing up-to-date post-abortion care with methods recommended by WHO, would benefit women as well as the health system.
The launch of the booklet project is in line with NWHN’s mandate to strengthen the capacity of women through advocacy and information to improve their health and empower them to become leaders at the local and national level. NWHN works with women across the country in all 13 regions and it has a membership record of 1650.