Malawi’s Religious Leaders Contest Proposed Abortion Law, Threaten Unspecified Action

Some Religious leaders in Malawi after a meeting with former President Arthur Peter Mutharika.
Credit: Public Domain

Religious leaders in the Southeastern African nation of Malawi are contesting attempts by the country’s legislators to amend the law and legalize abortion, which they say is “genocide of unborn babies in Malawi.”

In a collective statement, the religious leaders indicate that if their contestation is ignored, they would call for unspecified “cause of action.”

“We condemn the proposed bill, which seeks to introduce direct abortions because it is gravely sinful. Life must be safeguarded with extreme care from conception; abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes,” the religious leaders say in their statement read out Monday, September 14 at a press conference.

They add, "We, the religious mother bodies in the country, would like to reiterate our position that we celebrate, protect and defend life and the dignity of the human person.”

“Human life is a fundamental value because God created human being in His own image and likeness, male and female He created them,” the religious leaders further say in their collective statement read out by the President of the Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM), Archbishop Anthony Msusa.

The faith-based leaders call on Malawians “to stand up for the life of all people, including the unborn child.”

They note that this is the second time the proposed abortion legislation is set to be tabled in the country’s legislature, after they thwarted a previous attempt through nationwide protests on December 6, 2016 dubbed, “March for Life and Family.”

“Our members of Parliament should reject any proposal to amend the current laws on abortion as they adequately protect both the mother and the unborn child,” the religious leaders appeal, adding that such a law would not protect the unborn child.

The proposed amendment, they add, “does not protect the life of the unborn child. The current law protects both the child and mother.”

“But if they don’t really listen to what we are saying, we will call for another cause of action. Whether it will be the same as what we did in 2016 or another way of doing things, until what God calls us for, should be listened,” the religious leaders say.

They also challenge the government, private sector and other stakeholders to collaborate in order “to improve health facilities in our existing hospitals and health facilities, especially in rural parts of this country.”

Improved health facilities, they note, will ensure adequate handling of “major health complications, including maternal-related cases for girls and women,” which they described as “a serious challenge." 

Other religious bodies that are signatories to the September 14 statement besides ECM include Malawi Council of Churches (MCC), Evangelical Association of Malawi (EAM) and Quadria Muslim Association of Malawi (QMAM).

ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.

Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa
[email protected]