Attempt to introduce extreme abortion law to Namibia underway

An attempt to introduce radical abortion legislation in Namibia has been launched with the backing of international abortion organisations, such as Ipas – which is also pushing for an extreme abortion law in Kenya.

Prior to the Summer parliamentary recess, Health Minister Kalumbi Shangula told The Namibian he would push to introduce abortion on demand in Namibia if he gets enough support from women.

Just days later, Deputy Health Minister Esther Muinjangue put forward a motion calling for a debate on the topic. 

Now that Namibia’s National Assembly has resumed, it is expected that abortion campaigners will soon bring forward a Bill detailing a radical new abortion regime. 

Extreme changes

Namibia already has one of the most permissive abortion laws in Africa, allowing for terminations in cases of rape, incest and if there is a risk to the mother or baby’s mental or physical health.

It is, therefore, likely that any change will seek to make the country’s current abortion legislation more extreme by introducing abortion on demand, for any reason – as suggested by the Health Minister’s comments to the Namibian. 

External influences pushing for changes

The Swedish Embassy and international abortion organisation, Ipas, are among the external influences pushing for a radical abortion law.

The Swedish Embassy has pledged $3.2 million to fund a project which promotes ‘safe abortion’, among other idealogies, to Namibia and other African countries. This comes just months after Sweden announced it will fund abortions to combat the coronavirus in developing African countries, which are in dire need of PPE and medical equipment.

According to Citizen Go, Ipas arranged a meeting with members of parliament and other public servants to “lure” them into introducing a more extreme abortion law in the country.

International NGOs such as Ipas have used a legislation change model in a number of other countries where they have lobbied for a law change, which, in practice, introduces abortion on demand, for any reason. 

This model involves firstly lobbying Governments to introduce new legislation, as they are currently doing in Namibia. 

They have then placed themselves as key advisers on the roll-out of the new abortion service, including advising on associated standards and protocols across the country. 

In this position as a key adviser, they have then been involved with producing comprehensive guidance for the Government and healthcare providers which outlines that they must interpret language in the new legislation to allow abortion on demand.

For example, this model can be seen in operation in Ghana, where the involvement of Ipas in writing abortion guidance has not been hidden or obscured. 

A foreword to the current guidance states: “This document has been put together by a team of national experts with technical assistance from Ipas and WHO, Geneva.”

The wording of the Ghanian legislation relating to abortion includes what appears to be restrictive grounds for abortion “where the continuance of the pregnancy would involve risk to the life of the pregnant woman or injury to her physical or mental health”.

However, in the Ipas assisted guidance, it specifically instructs healthcare professionals to take a very broad interpretation of what appears to be similar restrictive wording. 

“Mental health refers to a state of emotional, psychological and social wellbeing and not merely the absence of disease in matters relating to mental function… No psychiatric assessment is required in order to obtain a legal abortion…. A woman’s social circumstances may be taken into account in assessing the current and future risks to her mental health.” 

This guidance has, in practice, allowed abortion to take place on-demand and for any reason. 

In Namibia, a similarly broad interpretation would allow abortion for any reason, on-demand. If Namibian lawmakers were to follow proposals backed by Ipas for Kenya, which do not include a time limit, this would allow abortion up to birth in Namibia.

Radical abortion legislation not wanted in Namibia

While there has not been any research on the public opinion around abortion in Namibia, local campaigners that Right To Life UK spoke to said that that the vast majority of Namibian citizens are pro-life.

This mirrors polling from Kenya where there is also currently international pressure to change abortion legislation. 87% of Kenyans do not support abortion on demand according to a 2014 poll conducted by Ipsos Synovate.

Therefore, the extreme changes to Namibia’s current abortion law being pushed by international organisations and other countries are likely not to be in line with the views of individuals living in the country. 

However, it is highly probable Ipas, the Swedish government and others abortion proponents, will continue pushing for a change in law undeterred. 

‘Ideological colonialism’

Pro-life campaigner, Ella Duru told Right To Life UK: “This is a brazen attempt by Western abortion organisations to impose abortion, for any reason, up to birth on Namibia.

“To have these well-funded overseas organisations spending lots of money to try and force more extreme abortion laws on Namibia and other African countries, particularly when it is unwanted, is a form of ideological colonialism.

“Cash rich donors from the West continue to exploit their privilege and position to offer abortion which is contrary to the pro-life values held by a large majority of African people.

“Given that these proposals would likely deny unborn babies the right to life right up to the point of birth, these proposals must be defeated by MPs if they reach the National Assembly. 

“If you are from Namibia please contact your local representative and note that you are against any change in abortion law that does not do more to support Namibian mothers and the unborn.”

Sweden joins UK in funding abortions in Africa over life-saving medical equipment

The Swedish government has announced it will fund abortions to combat the coronavirus across developing African countries, which are in dire need of PPE and medical equipment.

A recent statement from the Swedish Government’s International Development Agency (SIDA) announced it will give 20 million Swedish krona (£1.67 million) to DKT International, an organisation which promotes and funds abortion around the world.

It was recently revealed DKT International, which is owned by US pornography baron Phil Harvey, gave £7.5 million to international abortion provider Marie Stopes International.

The significant grant given to DKT International from SIDA will provide manual vacuum aspiration equipment to perform suction abortions in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Additionally, the group will distribute medical abortion drugs across Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Mozambique.

Developing countries across Africa are reported to have been devastated by COVID-19 and are in desperate need of ventilators, PPE and basic medical supplies as the crisis continues to develop there.

The United Nations projects that, even in the best scenario, the continent’s 1.3 billion people will need 30,000 ventilators this year.

However, recent reports claim the dire shortage of ventilators in developing countries could be as large as 500,000 and that ten nations have no ventilators at all.

The World Health Organization’s Regional Director for Africa, Dr Matshidiso Moeti, stated that “the issue of ventilators is one of the biggest challenges that the countries are facing.” 

Additionally, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has stated the impact of the pandemic could increase the number of people at risk of food insecurity and malnutrition from 17 million to 50 million people between June and August 2020.

Despite this huge challenge, with this grant SIDA and DKT International appears to be prioritising a radical abortion agenda rather than funding vital equipment that will save lives.

SIDA claims its partnership with DKT International helped avoid 1.6 million unsafe abortions – likely through providing the abortion ‘procedure’ themselves.

Sadly, the Swedish Government isn’t alone in forgoing the funding of vital life-saving equipment in developing countries in favour of funding abortions.

Last month, it was revealed the UK Government had given an extra £10 million to the UN Population Fund targeted at developing nations, including a number of African countries, which includes spending on abortion.

A spokesperson for Right To Life UK, Catherine Robinson said:

“65% of the public oppose UK taxpayer money being spent on abortions overseas.

“Rather than continuing to support the pro-abortion lobby’s agenda, the UK Government, other Government’s, and NGOs should focus on assisting developing countries in getting the vital equipment they needs to save lives.”

European Court refuses midwives’ conscientious objection case

The European Court of Human Rights has declined to hear the case of two Swedish midwives repeatedly denied jobs because of their refusal to perform abortions.

Ellinor Grimmark and Linda Steen had hoped to challenge authorities in Sweden, telling the court that being denied employment due to their pro-life views was an illegal breach of their rights to freedom of conscience.

Both had initially worked as nurses but retrained as midwives amid a severe shortage, receiving state funding to do so.

However, due to their pro-life views, job offers were withdrawn with one hospital stating it could provide Ellinor with counselling aimed at reconciling her “obstinate mind” with the good of abortion.

The head of the maternity ward at another hospital questioned “whether a person with such views actually can become a midwife”.

After exhausting legal options in Sweden, Ellinor and Linda had hoped the European Court of Human Rights would provide them and other pro-life midwives with a ruling that’d allow them to safely deliver babies without also having to abort them.  

But, in a short written decision, the court said their case was inadmissible and that freedom of conscience shouldn’t prevent the provision of abortion.

The judges’ decision on the case admitted there had been “an interference with her freedom of conscience,” but added that “the interference with the applicant’s freedom of religion was proportionate and justified with the view of achieving a legitimate aim…”

“Sweden provides nationwide abortion services and therefore has a positive obligation to organise its health system in a way as to ensure that the effective exercise of freedom of conscience of health professionals in the professional context does not prevent the provision of such services,” it added.

Now that it has dismissed their case, Ellinor and Linda cannot appeal again to the court. Its decision will negatively impact midwives across 47 Council of Europe Member States who could now be compelled to participate in abortions if they want to deliver babies.

Ellinor, who has been fighting pursuing the case for four years, said: “I chose to become a midwife because I wanted to help bring life into this world. I cannot understand why the Swedish government refuses to accommodate my conscientious convictions. I am now working in Norway, where my conscience is respected, but no-one can explain why Sweden cannot do the same.”

The Swedish Association of Midwives has defended the authorities’ right to refuse pro-life midwives work, suggesting any change would have consequences for the whole Swedish health care system.

Speaking to the BBC, President Mia Ahlberg said: “For example, a nurse who is a Jehovah’s Witness might refuse to perform a blood transfusion. It’s part of our professional competence – so the employer had a right to say ‘you cannot work here’.”

Robert Clarke, deputy director of ADF International who were helping the midwives pursue the case, called the court decision “very disappointing”. “Medical professionals should be able to work without being forced to choose between their deeply held convictions and their careers,” he said.

In 2014, the UK’s highest court ruled two midwives do not have the right to avoid supervising other nurses involved in abortion procedures.

The landmark judgement by the five Supreme Court justices rejected the view that the right of conscience extended to the whole process of abortion, instead ruling that conscientious objection only applies where an individual is “taking part in a hands-on capacity”.

Last year, it was revealed pro-life medical students who want to protect unborn babies from terminations could be forced to learn ‘abortion skills’ under new proposals.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists released a new report announcing its intention to teach and assess ‘abortion skills’ as part of its core curriculum but made no mention of any provision for conscientious objection.

In its Better for Women report, the College says “the General Medical Council (GMC) should review the Undergraduate medical curriculum to include the importance of abortion care to students.

“The RCOG will teach abortion skills as a part of its core curriculum and assess those skills through examination.”