Many of you may know Dennis Nelson Streeter for his incredible wit, sense of humor, and baritone bass voice but you probably dont know that he is a Champion for a woman’s right to choose. In today’s edition of For Di People Newspaper I was pleasantly surprised to read that Dennis is chairman of the Planned Parenthood Association of Sierra Leone. Abortion is illegal in Sierra Leone falling under the 1861 offences against person’s act borrowed from section 58 of a British law. While the law has been reviewed and changed 4 times in UK abortion is still illegal in Sierra Leone.
Under the Sierra Leonean law both the doctor performing the operation and the woman consenting to the procedure could serve up to 3 years in jail. A proposal has been made to the law reform offices asking that the government reconsider and review the law criminalizing abortion but nothing has happened to date.
Like many things in Sierra Leone the law is little enforced and women can and do choose to terminate unwanted pregnancies. And unlike the conservative protestors you would find in front of a women’s clinic in the US getting an abortion is relatively cheap and can be safe and effective if you have access to proper health facilities.
The problem however is that although the law is not enforced in Sierra Leone, Planned Parenthood is calling for a review of the law so that more women will access to the right facilities instead of resorting to desperate measures to terminate unwanted pregnancies.
It is estimated that 80 per cent of all legal abortions are performed on women aged 15-24. Complications of induced abortion are the most important cause of hospitalization and maternal mortality in Sierra Leone.
Do you think that the government should give women the right to choose? Should Sierra Leonean women have the right to terminate unwanted pregnancies?