Push to ‘allow abortion’

Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women. Picture: SUPPLIED

THE Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women has called on Government to legalise abortion in cases of rape and incest or severe fetal impairment.

The recommendation by the committee was contained in a document by the Human Rights Council Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review for Fiji.

The committee has also recommended that Fiji decriminalise abortion in all other cases and ensure access to safe abortion and post-abortion care.

The working group also highlighted that the same committee noted that the confidentiality of female patients was often not respected, that health personnel often sought the husband’s consent before providing treatment to a married woman and that a considerable number of women believed that they required their partner’s permission to seek access to health services.

“The Committee on the Rights of the Child recommended that the State enforce its efforts to improve prenatal care and further reduce maternal mortality, including by increasing the training of midwives and ensuring the generalisation of specific actions to prevent post-partum bleeding and other major causes of maternal death,” the document by the working group stated.

Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum had earlier said, “we would be going to Geneva where everything will be discussed”.

Meanwhile, questions sent to Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre co-ordinator Shamima Ali, Ministry of Women and Poverty Alleviation, the Methodist Church in Fiji, and the Arya Pratinidhi Sabha of Fiji last month remained unanswered.

However, in response to questions from this newspaper, head of the Catholic Church in Fiji and Rotuma Archbishop Peter Loy Chong said the State had a responsibility to protect life and the right to life.

“No one has the right to kill innocent fetus — even if the fetus was conceived in a rape. We can always find a way to protect — there are options for protecting the life of the unborn child,” Archbishop Chong said.

According to the Catholic Church’s teaching on abortion, a human life must be respected and “protected absolutely” from the moment of conception.

“From the first moment of his existence, a human being must be recognised as having the rights of a person — among which is the inviolable right of every innocent being to life,” the Catholic Church’s teaching on abortion stated. Government will front the United Nations Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in Geneva today.

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