A clear monitoring framework is a must to have, if objectives of the newly proposed regional Sexual and Reproductive Health Bill are to be accomplished, an expert opines.
Last week associates of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) held a public consultation in Kigali on the Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) Bill 2017. The Bill intends to endorse women’s health and safe motherhood across the country, in addition to make provisions for teenager reproductive health rights.
Article 15 of the draft Reproductive and Sexual Health Bill partially mentions that ‘partner states shall safeguard the reproductive rights of a woman by allowing the abortion when the continuing pregnancy may endanger the health/life of the woman and when opined by a healthcare professional’.
Suggestion of the IPPF (International planned parenthood federation)
However, the IPPF external relations advisor commented that the progressive bill needed broader range of guidelines and measures and ensuring a clear monitoring framework.
Furthermore, reproductive and sexual healthcare centers must be funded by public sectors which will reduce the burden on general public to get basic care.
Following the leading examples
While many commended the movement to be progressive and essential, it is also necessary to reflect and mirror the reproductive bill to the international frameworks like those in Maputo Protocol.
The aforementioned protocol, provides women with comprehensive rights such as the- part to be in the political process, to be held – socially/politically equal to men, bodily autonomy and to cease female genital mutilation.
The key for achieving this is access to contraception as well as safe abortion pills /services, ending child marriages, violence and removing barrier to safe abortion and reproductive clinics which is a major cause of maternal deaths in the region.
Introduction of abortion in public discussion
The Director of the HDI Rwanda suggested that the abortion bill which only allowed one permeable basis for pregnancy termination, should extend to three others where incest, rape and forced marriage can be legal grounds for abortion.
Furthermore, he recommended removing unnecessary court approvals for women to be allowed termination procedure. He added that even though regional lawmakers acknowledge the importance of replicating the best practices from partner states, practices from other countries must be reflected upon as well.