By Staff Writers

Maseru, Oct 24 (The Night’s Watch) – The Transformation Resource Centre (TRC) has called upon government to allow safe and legal access to abortion.

TRC also recommends that government ensure sexual and reproductive health care, including access to contraceptives at church-based health centres.

In Lesotho abortion is strictly illegal, apart from in life-threatening cases.

It is criminalised by Section 45 of the Penal Code Act of 2010 which provides that any person who willingly causes or induces the termination of a pregnancy commits a criminal offence.

Women who have abortions face being outcast from their communities, or arrested.

“TRC therefore suggests the following recommendation to the government of Lesotho: a) Decriminalisation of abortion and enactment of laws to regulate it,” TRC noted in its 2019 Shadow Report on Human Rights.

It said Lesotho was failing to protect the right to health and bring down the high infant and maternal mortality and morbidity rate which are brought by unplanned pregnancies and street abortions, among other things.

“In a newspaper interview on 15 September 2018, Health Minister Mr Nkaku Kabi stated that Lesotho’s only referral hospital, Queen ‘Mamohato Memorial Hospital is experiencing overcrowding and no longer accepting patients.

He acknowledged such overcrowding is mainly caused by illegal and incomplete abortions as some of their wards are filled with patients whose lives are at risk because of such,” reads the TRC report published this week.

It adds that: “Enjoyment of sexual and reproductive rights is also hampered by unavailability of contraceptives in church-based health centres which are majority in the country.”

In May last, the Sunday Express reported that the authorities at Queen ‘Mamohato Memorial Hospital (QMMH) said illegal abortions had reached crisis levels at the hospital with droves women being admitted due to complications arising from illegal procedures to terminate pregnancies.

Sundays Express indicated that so dire was the situation at the country’s largest referral hospital that QMMH Public Relations Officer Mothepane Thahane said they had to accommodate some of the patients in the ward earmarked for patients of cervical cancer. NW

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