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Federation wants abortion law reversed

Lineo Pene MASERU — The Lesotho National Federation of Organisations of the Disabled (LNFOD) wants parliament to reverse a law that allows women to abort if the foetus is diagnosed with some physical or mental disability.

The controversial law, passed by parliament last year, criminalises abortion except when a woman conceived because of rape, incest or where her life or that of the baby is in danger.

“It shall be a defence to a charge under this section that the act intended to terminate pregnancy was performed by a registered medical practitioner in order to save the life of the female person,” reads part of the Bill.

LNFOD however argues that section 46 of the Penal Code allows pregnant women to kill their unborn babies when they have a mental or physical handicap.

Speaking at a workshop on Thursday, LNFOD human rights and advocacy officer, Nkhasi Sefuthi, said “the law should be reversed”.

Sefuthi argued the new law was in contravention of Article 4 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability, which Lesotho ratified.

“It is the government’s responsibility to make sure that people with disabilities are supported not killed,” Sefuthi said.

“It is unfair discrimination if one is killed because of their disability.”

He said LNFOD was not consulted when the law was made.

“This Bill was made without us and people who made it are not disabled.

“During the International Day for Disabled People at the end of November last year, one member of parliament who had attended was questioned by LNFOD if this Bill would be passed and he denied its existence.

“LNFOD made investigations only to find out that it already existed. This Act jeopardises the development of disabled people in Lesotho,” Sefuthi said.

This is not the first time that the controversial law is coming under attack.

Last December the Christian Council of Lesotho (CCL) also criticised the law saying it encouraged abortion.

CCL chairperson, Reverend Khethang Posholi, told the Sunday Express in December that the church was not going to allow the abortion law to take effect.

Reverend Posholi said the CCL was consulting members to come up with a unified response to the abortion law.

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