The Sierra Leone Abortion bill has raised a lot of dust and anxiety in the country. It appears a rising number of activists and women are in favour of legalizing abortion. A couple of times the bill was passed by the ruling party but not legalized. According to Reuters, over “two-thirds majority needed to override a presidential veto” are strongly pushing for it. However, President Ernest Bai Koroma has refused to sign the bill.
On the fore front of the “Safe Abortion Bill” is Naasu Fofanah, former gender adviser to the President. Naasu was raped by a pastor and became pregnant. With the help of her mother she aborted the baby. According to Naasu, she does not regret it in any way. While she pushes for abortion to be legalized, the President is not budging. He says the bill contradicts the right to life as contained in the constitution.
The Sierra Leone Abortion Bill has sparked off clashes in diverse sectors – Religion, Human Rights & Politics. Sierra Leone is a nation whose population consist of 78.0% of Muslims and 20.9% of Christians. Going by religion, abortion has no locus in Sierra Leone. Politically, there are insinuations that the President is taking the side of religion to enable him pave a way to run for a third term. As a matter human rights, the argument comes in two phases. Whose right should be considered here? The pregnant female or the baby?
As the tussle goes on, a disturbing trend raises its ugly head. Since it is still outlawed in Sierra Leone, desperate females have resorted to illegal abortion. While Naasu was able to have a qualified doctor, majority of others are done by quacks. Many have been left with severe health complications. Some others lose their lives.
Sierra Leone currently faces an increase in teenage pregnancies. But the question is, will legalizing abortion stop the trend or further promote it?