By: Ludorf Iyambo
Pro-abortion activist Ndilokelwa Nthengwe says that the current law against abortion was a South African law of 1975 and should be repealed.
She said that this specific law was to control white women’s reproduction system and choices and was not about preserving life.
Nthengwe made these remarks at the abortion conscientisation dialogue held on Saturday 19 February at the Windhoek Un Plaza Amphitheater.
The dialogue came a day after a group of anti-abortion protestors took to the streets to march against the proposed legalisation of abortion on demand in Namibia.
Nthengwe said that the law was made to be restrictive so that white women may not terminate their pregnancy because it would affect the legacy of the white apartheid at the time.
She further stated that in 1994, South Africa reformed the law of 1975, but Namibia inherited the law.
“Currently, the law does not save either the white woman or black woman because at a time it was to preserve the legacy of white people, but right now it infringes on the rights of black people,” she said.
Under the current abortion and sterilisation act number 2 of 1975, abortion is only legal under four conditions.
The first two are the threat to the life and mental health of the mother, thirdly if the fetus was conceived through incest or rape and lastly if there is a severe risk to fetus’ physical impairment.
“That is why you find unsafe backdoor abortions because those conditions are very restrictive,” Nthengwe stated.
According to the activist, the steps to get a legal abortion in Namibia is a long process. She said that if the pregnancy is a threat to mental health, the woman needs a certificate from a psychiatrist, and Namibia has less than 10 psychiatrists for the population of 2.5 million people.
“We only have two psychiatrists in the government state hospitals, one is in Oshakati, and one is in Windhoek. The others are privates, and the rest are just social workers,” said Nthengwe.
She stated that, in the case of incest or rape, a person needs two medical practitioners to give a certificate.
“Also, for these two practitioners, one needs a third doctor who can perform the abortion, but he/she must not be from the same hospital where the other two works.”
Nthengwe further stated that abortion can only be done in government state hospitals.
In the case of the mother being underage, she needs the consent of the gender minister. “You also need permission from the medical superintendent of the state hospital.
“By the time you go through that process, you are already beyond terminating the pregnancy. If this law is not on-demand, Namibia will continue living in the cycle of poverty, with a high rate of SGBV. Plus, there are so many other issues that are compounded by just this law that does not give gender diversity community access to this specific law,” said Nthengwe.
She argued that under the current law, abortion is already permitted under certain conditions. Therefore, the church’s perspective, which states that abortion, if legalised, would be killing babies, is contradictory to the country’s law.
The anti-abortion group marched from the health ministry building and up to the gender ministry offices, where they handed over a petition to gender minister Doreen Sioka.