Back in History: Groups discuss abortion

Former YWCA director Amelia Rokotuivuna had said women had the right to legalised abortion service. Picture: wikipedia

Most women in Fiji oppose legalising abortion, a survey by the Fiji National Council of Women (FNCW) showed.

On September 10, 1973, The Fiji Times reported that the then acting president of the council, Evelyn Ah Sam, said the FNCW distributed questionnaires to 18 national women’s groups to find out their views about social matters, including abortion.

The Suva Women’s Advisory Council also distributed more copies of the questionnaire to affiliated women’s organisations. Nineteen groups replied to the questions.

Mrs Ah Sam said 14 groups opposed the government in legalising abortion while five groups wanted abortion legalised.

The Home Economics and Nutrition Association supported the move to legalise abortion because women were already obtaining dangerous “backyard” abortions.

The association added doctors were seeing an increase in the number of women suffering in hospitals as a result of these abortions.

Members said doctors were already performing abortions in hospitals in special cases.

Even if it was to save the life of a mother, it was still abortion.

Meanwhile, the Methodist women’s group said there was a difference between abortion and “termination of pregnancy” when a mother’s life was in danger.

The group did not agree with using legalised abortion as a population control measure and suggested further research into family planning and contraception.

Members said they wanted expert opinion on whether legalised abortion would put an end to “backyard” abortions and what side effects, physically and mentally, a woman could suffer from abortion.

The Suva Women’s Advisory Council said doctors should perform abortions only in cases of rape or where a mother’s life was in danger.

The Fiji YWCA former director, Amelia Rokotuivuna, said women had the right to a legalised abortion service.

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