The Former Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator in the Bureau for Global Health at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Monique Wubbenhorst, has revealed that an estimated 40,000 abortions take place in Liberia annually.
Wubbenhorst stated that legalizing abortion will undermine the growth and the future of Liberia.
She made the revelation Wednesday at the beginning of a three-day Training and Awareness Workshop on the empowerment of the local faith community campaign on Comprehensive Sex Education (CSE), held at the Water in the Desert Church in Brewerville, outside Monrovia.
She noted that 43 percent of Liberia’s population are less 15 years old, which indicates children are the future of the country.
She pointed out that Liberia has a brighter future with children who are more valuable than anything in the world, noting that having money without children is meaningless.
Wubbenhorst indicated that CSE will inform young Liberians about the reproductive health system and avoid abortion in the future.
The workshop, held under the theme “Protecting life and family”, was organized by the Concerned Christian Community with the Campaign against Extreme Abortion in Liberia, with the motto: “Let the Children Live”, and brought together church leaders and elders from various counties across Liberia.
Meanwhile, Liberian lawmakers are preparing a bill to expand access to abortion, which is currently subject to tight restrictions that many women circumvent through clandestine and dangerous means.
A joint Senate committee began debating a bill on June 13 that would greatly expand the availability of legal abortion up to 12 weeks of pregnancy. The existing law allows abortion only in cases of rape, incest, and fetal abnormality, danger to the mother’s life or risk to her physical or mental health.
Medical exemptions require written approval by at least two doctors. In cases of rape or incest, proof must be provided in court. Otherwise, abortion is punishable by up to three years in prison.
“We want abortion to stop being a criminal offence, we want to amend the penal code to legalize abortion,” the Chair of the Senate Health Committee, Augustine Chea, who initiated the bill, told parliament in early June.
Liberian women who do not meet the criteria imposed by the law resort to dangerous abortion practices. Liberia has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world, with 1,072 deaths per 100,000 births in 2017, according to the United Nations.
Despite restrictions, Liberian women have better access to abortion than their West African neighbors in Côte d’Ivoire or Sierra Leone, for example, according to the United States Research Institute Guttmacher.
After the work in committee, the text must be submitted to the vote of the two chambers of the Parliament; then, if adopted, be promulgated by the president.