BY ELKASS I.L. SANNOH
The ongoing democratic debate on the most ballooned “Safe Abortion Bill” being described by the campaigners as “Women’s Bill” has captured the attention of The Voiceless Sierra Leoneans who are left with no option but to join the queue and lay bare certain facts.
The Voiceless Sierra Leoneans are not against the campaigners but attempting to add voice to the debate in order to encourage the public to make a sane judgment.
What interest me the most is the fact that those who are campaigning for the Safe Abortion Bill to be legislated have never informed the women folks on the RISKS, COMPLICATIONS, DANGERS and SIDE EFFECTS of “Safe Abortions.” They have limited their arguments on the RISKS, COMPLICATIONS, DANGERS and SIDE EFFECTS of the “Unsafe Abortion,” forgetting the fact that medical research has proved that there is no safe abortion in the world. I might be a lame man but that fact is sacrosanct.
THE INTER-RELIGIOUS COUNCIL
Unfortunately, the Inter-Religious Council is still unable to bring forward a well defined reason(s) with scientific proof to thrash out the Bill from becoming a law in Sierra Leone. They are basing their arguments against the bill on religious grounds, adding that the Government should not take a bad decision that is against the commandments and teachings of God/Allah.
Our religious leaders submitted that it is a sin to engage in any form of abortion and therefore calls for divine intervention. My question is: Why the current Pope did not condemn President Barrack Obama for legalizing Gay and Lesbianism in the United States of America? The truth is, Safe Abortion is more acceptable and moral than legalizing Gay and Lesbianism.
The Voiceless Sierra Leoneans were expecting the Anti-Safe Abortion campaigners (Inter-Religious Council) to make references to the English Offences against the Person Act of 1861. This Act prohibits the performance of all abortions and makes a person performing an abortion and a pregnant woman consenting to the performance of an abortion subject to imprisonment. A law introduced in 1988 to regulate the practice of pharmacy (Pharmacy and Drugs Act of 1988) also prohibits any advertisement of drugs or services that could be used to terminate or influence the course of a human pregnancy. Despite these strong laws, the authorities have not been able to regulate and control the rampant abortion act.
One is now tempted to ask: If the law prohibiting abortion was not enforced by the authorities, how is it possible for the current campaigners to regulate and monitor the Safe Abortion practice?
THE CAMPAIGNERS AND THE MISSING GUNSHOT
Interestingly, the campaigners for the Safe Abortion Bill submitted that “unsafe abortion has become a major concern for women in Sierra Leone, as most teenage girls and women die of complications after it.”
This is mainly due to the fact that it is done under unfavourable conditions coupled with the stringent laws binding abortion in the country.
To make the operation safe and healthy in the country, the head of IPAS Sierra Leone, Valerie Tucker few months ago donated a set of instruments used for abortion and post abortion treatment to the Hasting Community Health Centre. This donation was to provide a safe environment for abortion related cases, and other major health centre’s in Freetown and the provincial headquarter towns.
According to the IPAS Country Director, “abortion is inevitable among young girls and women,” as most cases of unwanted pregnancies are based on religious moral and traditional beliefs as well as rape cases. She disclosed that her organization will help train medical health personnel on the use of these instruments, adding that IPAS will also provide counseling services to teenage girls on family planning and precautions.
Indeed she has been able to present some facts but she, like her campaigners refused to do their homework well. Among them are:
–To seek the attention of the Medical and Dental Council for professional inputs.
–The need to have the required facilities in all health centers were not lobbied for.
–The name of the Bill was not carefully chosen considering the high illiteracy rate.
–Formidable partnership with the grass root women to help champion the Bill is missing.
–The timeliness of the Bill was inappropriate considering the destruction of the Ebola virus in crippling the health facilities.
–The teenagers who are blamed for doing secret and unsafe abortions have not been well educated/sensitized on the importance and need to have a safe abortion law.
One thing that must come out clearly is that, abortion is one of the most frequently performed surgical operations in developed countries including the United States, yet it is the least regulated. Not only this, but the very nature of abortion clinics, which practice in isolation from the rest of the medical community, keeps the abortion provider free from accountability for these complications.
According to The Elliot Institute of Medical Research, approximately 10% of women undergoing induced abortion suffer from immediate complications, of which one-fifth (2%) were considered major. However the majority of complications take time to develop and will not be apparent for days, months or even years. Negative psychological reactions to abortions are more common than physical complications.
Today, those who support Safe Abortion on demand will claim that the reported complication rate for abortions is low. They may be right. Not necessarily because there are few complications, but because the complications are underreported. They are underreported because there is no accurate process in place today to quantify the harmful repercussions of abortion. The abortion industry has successfully kept abortion and abortionists free from the type of review, regulation, and accountability that is an integral part of the rest of the medical profession.
THE DANGERS ASSOCIATED WITH SAFE ABORTION
According to Afterabortion.org (http://afterabortion.org/…/abortion-risks-abortion-complic…/), the following are some of the risks, complications, dangers and effects of abortion.
1) Cervical, Ovarian and Liver Cancer 2) Uterine perforation 3) Cervical Lacerations 4) Placenta Previa 5) Subsequent pre-term deliveries and other complications of Labour 6) Handicapped newborns in later pregnancies 7) Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) 8) Endometritis.
From the aforesaid, one will conclude that there is no safe abortion as long as the act is associated with RISKS, COMPLICATIONS, and SIDE EFFECTS. For instance, according to medical research, Endometritis is a post-abortion risk for all women. Between 2 and 3% of all abortion patients may suffer perforation of their uterus, yet most of these injuries will remain undiagnosed and untreated unless laparoscopic visualization is performed.
Finally, women who had one, two, or more previous induced abortions are more likely to have a subsequent pre-term delivery, compared to women who carry to term. Prior induced abortion not only increased the risk of premature delivery. It also increased the risk of delayed delivery. Indeed, abortion is associated with cervical and uterine damage which may increase the risk of premature delivery, complications of labor and abnormal development of the placenta in later pregnancies. These reproductive complications are the leading causes of handicaps among newborns.
The Voiceless Sierra Leoneans will now submit that if the Safe Abortion Bill match up with the available facilities then there is need to make it a law. On the contrary, if the required facilities to make it workable for the intended objective(s) are not enough, then there is no need to make it a law. This is the Pen of The Voiceless Sierra Leoneans.