By Ben Johnson — Lifesite News
Zambia has banned Marie Stopes International from performing abortions after discovering the NGO committed 490 illegal abortions in five months.
The Abortions Act of 1972 permits abortion only to save the life of the mother, a condition that must be certified by three doctors.
According to the Times of Zambia, Marie Stopes International performed 490 abortions from January until May with the approval of the same doctor. Mike Chisha authorized 430 abortions in Nakonde, 30 in Kasama and another 30 in Mpika in the nation’s Northern and Muchinga provinces.
Northern Province Permanent Secretary, Emmanuel Mwamba indicated Marie Stopes International was performing abortions for the sake of convenience, unwanted pregnancy, or economic concerns.
“The management has been ordered to suspend abortion services immediately,” said Health Minister Joseph Kasonde during a press conference in the nation’s capital of Lusaka. “However, the rest of the services may continue, and the organisation may continue to operate in the country.”
The Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia’s Executive Director, Pukuta Mwanza, said as a Christian nation, Zambia should adhere to the Bible’s teaching on the sanctity of life. Abortion, he said, harms both mother and child.
He noted the illegal abortions the government had uncovered took place in remote areas, implying a higher proportion of such procedures take place in urban areas.
Radio Netherlands Worldwide reported earlier this year that, despite its protective law, illegal abortions are readily available in the nation for as little as $25 (US). The news service noted these were often performed “by Chinese doctors who remain poorly-regulated in the country.”
Zambia’s abortion rate has climbed in recent years, leaving behind familiar guilt and trauma for the survivors.
A 27-year-old post-abortive woman told the radio network, “I sometimes feel guilty about my decision to abort, but there was nothing I could do, because I just had to do it.”
Another, 23-year-old Juliet Katebe, said, “It was a painful experience and I almost died…I regret the whole process, because now I am told I cannot bear children. I blame my parents for everything.”
In a letter, Mwamba urged Provincial Police Commissioner Mary Chikwanda to pursue criminal charges against all parties involved.
Zambian law charges abortionists with murder, which carries a sentence of life in prison or death.
Marie Stopes International operates more than 600 clinics in 42 countries around the world. Their “outreach teams” reach 12 000 remote rural locations and inner city slums.