During a town hall meeting with a representative group of women this week, President Koroma said that there was no clear definition as to who is a medical practitioner and there was a variance in definition with that of the Medical and Dental Association (of Sierra Leone).

The president said, “the right to life is an entrenched law in the constitution so even though we are to domesticate and accept the Maputo protocol, I believe we should go through the due process of the law”.

There were however mixed feelings in the meeting as some of the women applauded the president’s remarks while others demanded that he should sign the bill into law.

In Sierra Leone women are gagged by the 1861 Abortion Act which criminalises any act of abortion. Womens lives are being put at risk due to the law, a pro-abortion campaign group 50/50 said in a statement advocating for the bill to be passed into law.

According to them Sierra Leone has one of the highest mortality rates in the world quoting a 2015 WHO report.

An international NGO, Advocates Aid, insists that “this cannot continue, we will stand side by side with Sierra Leone women until they are granted the right to their lives and that of their children”.

Last month a group of United Nations and African Commission on human rights called on the president to sign the Safe Abortion Bill into force.

The bill which has attracted a lot of public debate was approved by members of Parliament by the end of 2015. However as a result of objections from several groups including the Inter-religious Council, the president refused to sign the bill. Enditem

Source: Xinhua

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