Legalise abortion, says Botlogile Tshireletso

12th December 2016
Minister Tshireletso Source:The Midweek Sun

Assistant Minister of Local Government and Rural Development, also MP for Mahalapye East, Botlogile Tshireletso says abortion should be legalised in Botswana.

So determined is Tshireletso that she is lobbying for the setting up of a legal abortion facility in the country to enable women to freely terminate unwanted pregnancies. She told The Midweek Sun in an interview that the number of deaths resulting from unsafe abortion is alarming and can only be mitigated by legalising abortion.

Indeed, statistics sourced from Princess Marina Hospital shows that of the various abortions the hospital handled this year, Incomplete Abortions were the highest with 1304 cases while Inevitable Abortion recorded 99. In addition, Threatened Abortion cases reached 130;  Missed Abortion recorded 81, Complete Abortion 62 and Septic Abortion cases stand at 141 – just for this year.

Tshireletso pointed that most well-off Batswana women often travel to South Africa for the service (safe abortion) and therefore the community should not seem alarmed by her sentiments.

“I find it pointless that a woman should be forced to keep a child she does not want, only for her to turn to unprofessional personnel for help or resort to throwing the child in dustbins immediately after birth,” Tshireletso argued.She said should a legal clinic be made available, clients will be counselled and attended by trained professionals.

Moreover, she reckoned that some women may even reconsider going through with the whole process after opening-up and receiving proper guidance from social workers.“Batswana are always reluctant to change, if this is to be implemented, they will soon learn to live with it and accept it as normal. The reality is that many females are aborting and dying. Measures like the Morning-After Pill have been put in place, yet many still find themselves resorting to abortion.

“With the current report of abortion cases at the Ministry of Health, it is saddening to find so many cases of unsafe abortion, now imagine how many go unreported, we are surely fighting a losing battle,” the MP added.The minister also lamented that abandoned children and patients who engage in unsafe abortion were becoming a burden to government. She noted that the government takes in the abandoned children, offers medical health care to the mothers and in other cases forced to offer a helping hand in the burial arrangements of the deceased.

Tshireletso said the women caucus in Parliament is up on its toes to ensure that it advocates for the welfare of a women’s health and hopefully the motion will be taken into consideration. Reached for comment, a spokesperson of Marina Princess Hospital Donnell Kutlapye said he could not comment on Tshireletso’s sentiments.“We only implement what the law says and if there is a change of law we will execute the instructions,” he said. Kutlapye said that currently abortion in the country is only carried on medical grounds.

He said they can only recommend abortion to the mother if the medical condition of either the mother or child is threatened.He added that Marina has recorded 1817 abortions from January to October 2016 and that two female babies were abandoned at the hospital by a non-citizen while the nationality of the other mother is not known.

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