From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

Local News
In Sierra Leone, PPA-SL Wants Abortion Laws Repealed
By Aruna Turay
Sep 1, 2010, 17:08

Plan Parenthood Association of Sierra Leone (PPASL) has called on the Government of Sierra Leone to review the existing Abortion Act.

In a workshop organized by the organization at the Grassroots Gender Empowerment Movement (GGEM) building on John Street in Freetown on Tuesday 31st August 2010 for media practitioners, the Advocacy Manager PPASL Mr. Brima V. Kamara told newsmen that the present law which governs abortion in Sierra Leone is found in the Offences Against the Persons Act 1861. He said in 1861 the Parliament of England passed the Offences Against the Persons Act which was later inherited in to the laws of Sierra Leone, adding that Section 58 of the Act made abortion a criminal offence, punishable by imprisonment from three years to life even when performed for medical reasons.

According to Mr. Kamara, under Section 58, the offence is committed where a woman, with intent to procure her own miscarriage, unlawfully administers poison or other noxious substance or use instruments to procure her own abortion. He went on that under the same section, the offence can also be committed where another person with intent to procure the miscarriage of any woman, unlawfully administer to her or cause her to be taken by her any poison or noxious thing or use any instrument to procure such miscarriage, adding that the offence created under Section 58 is a felony and can attract a penalty of up to life imprisonment.

The Advocacy Manager stressed that all individuals and couples have the right to decide freely and responsibly the number and timing of their children and have the information and means to do so and attain the highest standards of Sexual and Reproductive Health.

Unfortunately he noted, England, the country from which these laws were inherited, has since reviewed the Abortion Law four times now while Sierra Leone is yet to make a single review on the Law since 1861, adding, “there are legal indications for abortion, such as a situation where it is necessary to save the life of a woman, pregnancy resulting from rape or incest, the probable presence of fatal abnormalities, contraceptive failure, socioeconomic reasons, and/or by request of the woman.

However, Mr. Kamara highlighted the formation of Reproductive Health Partners and Networks (REHPAN), draft legislation on Abortion code named ‘The Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act’ soon to be presented to Parliament, among others as some of the proposals already designed by PPASL.

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