Marie Stopes International has been suspended from conducting abortions in Zambia.
Health minister Dr Joseph Kasonde made the announcement in Zambia’s capital Lusaka today, July 25, 2012, after investigations into allegations that the non-governmental organisation was conducting illegal abortions in Muchinga and Northern provinces.
Although, Marie Stopes International Zambia programme manager Nikile Siamwiza Njovu had earlier in the week denied the allegations, Dr Kasonde said the numerous abortions conducted by the organisation were illegal as they were authorised by one doctor instead of three as stipulated by law.
Dr Kasonde emphasised that any abortions should be conducted within the sanctity of the law.
However, the organisation will continue to provide other services such as cervical cancer screening, family planning and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases.
In its official report, Marie Stopes International disclosed that it had been conducting medical abortions in Mbala, Chama and Nakonde districts.
In January to May 2012, it conducted 430 abortions in Nakonde and 30 in Kasama.
Abortion is legal in Zambia provided it is done within the laid down conditions of the law.
The Termination of Pregnancy Act is the principle legislative Act on the termination of pregnancy. It was enacted in 1972 with amendments in 1994.
Termination of pregnancy can be done under the following circumstances:
(i) Where the pregnancy constitutes a risk to the life of the pregnant woman or where the pregnancy constitutes a risk to the physical or mental health of the pregnant woman.
(ii) Where the pregnancy constitutes a risk to the physical or mental health of any existing children of the pregnant woman, to such extent that the risk is greater than if the pregnancy were terminated.
(iii) In circumstances where the pregnancy constitutes substantial risk so much that the child to be born would suffer from such physical or mental abnormalities as to be seriously handicapped.
In Zambia, Marie Stopes International provides sexual and reproductive healthcare to thousands of Zambia's vulnerable women and, according to their website, in 2011, the organisation prevented 1, 900 unsafe abortions in the country.