Government sued over law on abortion

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KAMPALA- Two Makerere University law dons have petitioned the Constitutional Court challenging its failure to pass laws aimed at legalising abortion, an omission that has seen increased unsafe abortions and its associated consequences including death.

Prof Ben Twinomugisha and Dr Rose Nakayi together with a civil  society organisation, Center for Health, Human Rights and Development (CEHURD)  have asked court to order the Executive and Legislative arms of government to pass a law  regulating termination of pregnancies to reduce maternal mortality rates that arise from  unsafe abortions.

The law dons in their petition filed on March 3, contend that the existing legislation only permits abortion in exceptional circumstances such as a life of a mother at risk, but doesn’t protect young girls and married women who may get unwanted pregnancies hence resorting to unsafe abortion methods.

The petitioners argue that other African countries like Kenya, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Ghana and Tunisia, which are similar in social and economic circumstances as Uganda, deliberately developed laws to protect the rights of women by prescribing circumstances under which a woman is allowed to terminate her pregnancy.

“We do not see any reason as to why Uganda should not borrow a leaf from its neighbours and take an essential step to   protect the lives of women who continue dying day by day due to unsafe abortions,” reads part of the petition.

The petitioners contend that the Constituent Assembly resolved to create a framework provision on termination of pregnancy on which basis the Parliament of Uganda would then formulate, discuss and enact a law on termination of pregnancy.

They also contend that since the enactment of the Constitution, no effort has been made by the law to effect Article 22(2) of the Constitution by creating a law on termination of pregnancy.

“By omitting to create a law on termination of pregnancy the State continues to contravene the constitutional directive made by Article 22(2) and the obligation of the parliament,” reads part of the petition.

The trio is seeking for the interpretation of Article 22(2) of the Constitution which provides that no person has the right to terminate the life of an unborn child except as may be authorised by law.

They also want an interpretation which provides that subject to the provisions of the Constitution, Parliament shall have powers to make laws on any matter for the peace, order development and good governance of Uganda.

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