The Council of Churches in Namibia general secretary Ludwig Beukes said that he does not think the decision taken by the United States (US) will affect Namibia’s decision-making regarding whether to legalize abortion or keep it illegal.
Beukes was responding to a decision by the US Supreme Court to end nearly 50 years of constitutionally protected abortion rights.
The court overturned the landmark 1973 Roe versus Wade decision that enshrined a woman’s right to an abortion. The court said individual states can now allow or disallow abortion.
Beukes said Namibia signed the Maputo protocol, where countries have agreed to adjust their laws towards safe abortion.
Based on that protocol, Beukes said, Namibia wants to review its policies. Therefore he said it is a message for Namibia to say that it is not just about changing laws to fit everyone.
“The US changing its laws is not based on what others are thinking, but on what they think is best for their nation,” he told The Villager.
Beukes further said that this is also to see the solutions to the high rate of baby dumping and many other things that come with unwanted pregnancies.
“Listening to the hearings that were all over the country, it seems like most of the people feel that the current law that is in place is enough to address those issues,” expressed Beukes.
Beukes further stated that it is a message to Namibia that even those who have before chosen to legalize abortion have opted out against their own decision and decided to change it after so many years.
“After 50 years, they realized that what they legalized was wrong. As the church, we feel that the current laws are enough to address this issue,” he said.
Swapo Party Youth League Secretary-General Ephraim Nekongo said it is a lesson that Namibia must learn from the Americans and that there must be a reason why the US has decided to repel against abortion.
“However, in the process of law-making, where we have to introduce the legalizing of abortion, which we have already seen that we have been at loggerheads with each other with some saying that we cannot legalize abortion,” said Nekongo.
Moreover, he said lawmakers have to have everybody’s view on this because when one is in the process of making laws, they do not make the laws for themselves but the people.
According to Nekongo, one needs to have both parties’ opinions before deciding the way forward.
Nekongo said that one should consider why America has decided to make such a decision. Namibia should also listen to the advice from churches and others if it is an excellent thing to terminate a pregnancy, killing someone alive.
“Those who are for abortion should continue pushing their agenda to prove to us, the lawmakers, that there is merit to what they are fighting for. But if there is no merit, then we will be forced to say that maybe now is not the right time to legalize abortion,” he explained.
Furthermore, he added that Namibia is forced to look at the cause of this fight on legalizing abortion before taking any decision.
Nekongo said that America taking a stand against abortion might change Namibians’ view on abortion.
What Namibian Activists Said Last Month
Activist Ndiilokelwa Nthengwe told The Villager there is a concern that the US decision on abortion could affect Namibia’s fixed point on abortion.
However, she said there is not much on that pointing to the Global South, the term denoting regions outside Europe and North America.
“Right now, it’s just a leaked draft. We will wait until June-July for the final judgement. There’s a high chance it might, but we don’t know yet,” she said.
Nthengwe said a referendum on a fundamental human right would obscure and override our country’s efforts to protect the sanctity of rights in the constitution.
“It will not solve it reasonably. It will unjustly dissolve our rights.”
Human rights activist Linda Baumann says local anti-abortion advocates would use the USA decision on abortion to paint it as bad. According to her, the anti-abortion activists would use it as a sway.
“Yes, the anti-abortion group will use this particular framework and reality in the United States as a promotional line to say how bad abortion is,” said Baumann.
She added that one would have to know how the politics of the USA work. She further said that not all US states had resolved abortion.
“If we bring it back home, it is now in the spotlight. All countries look upon the USA as an example and case study.”
However, she said one must also respect the autonomy of each country.
“Namibia is a country of its own with its laws and social environment,” she added.
Baumann told The Villager that the premise of the conversation around abortion in Namibia had created division around bodily autonomy and integrity.
She further said that the USA Supreme Court wanted to overrule the rights of abortion. It would be an ideal weight for Namibia to study how the legal framework got to vote to repeal the right to abortion in the USA.
“But to also study what does that means for us.”
She also said that although public hearings are taking place, the time has come for Namibian women who had an abortion to speak out.
“The current debate must also get men to speak because many men impregnated women and never want to be part of that life. What does that say about the whole reproductive process? This abortion does not only affect women. It affects the men also who are part of the process,” Baumann explains.
She added that not enough discussions get men to speak about this topic when they have impregnated women.
“This is when they don’t want the baby. Whose problem does it become? We need to flip the coin to interrogate that and strengthen the decisions and regulations we intend to put out in this country,” she said.
A signal to the rest of the world
Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain called the ruling “a big step backwards.”
In Belgium, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said on Twitter on Friday that he was concerned about the implications of overturning Roe v. Wade. “Banning abortion never leads to fewer abortions, only to more unsafe abortions,” he tweeted, adding that Belgium would continue working with other countries to advance reproductive health and rights.
Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, said the decision was one of the darkest days for women’s rights in her lifetime. “Obviously, the immediate consequences will be suffered by women in the US — but this will embolden anti-abortion & anti-women forces in other countries too,” she tweeted.
Most of the European companies contacted by DealBook declined to comment or said it was too early to say how the Supreme Court’s decisions on gun regulation and abortion affected their approach to posting employees in the United States. But in general, most European countries have, in recent years, moved to relax abortion restrictions.
Some female executives in the United States have already known their stances.
Julie Jones, chairwoman of the law firm Ropes & Gray, wrote to employees yesterday in a memo saying: “As a woman, I have a profound feeling of vulnerability caused by the elimination of a longstanding right of women — a right that affects their bodies and their agency.
“As a person with privilege,” she continued, “I recognize and worry about the decision’s disproportionate impact on women with limited resources. As an American, I fear the divisive nature of this topic will further fracture an already angry and divided citizenry. As a leader of Ropes & Gray, I am concerned about the effect of this decision on our community.”
*Additional Information from The New York Times