Malawi’s Ministry of Justice says it is waiting for a green light from the Ministry of Health to start reviewing the county’s abortion laws.

The decision to review the law follows a call from Traditional Leaders in Mangochi for government to consider revising the current laws.

The chiefs argued that the law on abortion has sometimes criminalized innocent women at the expense of protecting life.

“As chiefs we have agreed that government need to revisit and revise abortion laws in Malawi because if there are laws against abortion, the law is negatively affecting most women in villages,” said Senior Chief Chimwala of Mangochi franked by seven other chiefs in the district.

The current laws provide for a maximum sentence of between 7 and 14 years to those who administer and seek abortion in Malawi which the chiefs say encourages unsafe abortion.

NGO Women in Law in Southern Africa, the Coalition for the prevention of unsafe abortions, and the Parliamentary Committee on Health are some of the institutions to have voiced out on the need to review the law.

However, spokesperson in the Ministry of Justice Ms. Apoche Itimu says procedures have to be followed for the ministry to start reviewing the law.

“We have not received official communication instructing us to review the laws on abortion. Most of the times instructions will come from the ministry that is pushing for the particular piece of legislation to be reviewed,” said Miss Itimu

Ministry of Health spokesperson Mr. Henry Chimbali said the ministry is currently addressing the problem through post abortion care and provision of various contraceptive methods.

Mr. Chimbali said the ministry is now gathering evidence to present to authorities on the state of abortion cases in the country.

Among other penalties, the penal code provides for a maximum of 14 years in prison for those administering abortions and seven years for women soliciting abortions while not in danger.

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