Malawi: The duty to make abortion law transparent

Congratulations to Godfrey Dalitso Kangaude, LL.M., a doctoral candidate in Law at the University of Pretoria, and Dr. Chisale Mhango, former Director of Reproductive Health Services in Malawi’s Ministry of Health, for their recent publication in the International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics.   We are pleased to circulate the abstract and links below:

Godfrey Dalitso Kangaude and Chisale Mhango, “The duty to make abortion law transparent: A Malawi case study,” International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics 143.3 (Dec. 2018): 409–413     PDF at Wiley onlineSubmitted text at SSRN.

Abstract:    Despite adopting a progressive legal and policy framework informed by internationally recognized human rights norms and values, Malawi has not complied with the obligation to explain its abortion law in accordance with legal and human rights standards. In 1930, the colonial government adopted a Penal Code derived from English criminal law, containing provisions regulating access to abortion, but has not undertaken measures to explain when abortion is lawful. What constitutes legal abortion has never been clarified for health providers and potential clients. Consequently, eligible girls and women fail to access safe and legal abortion. The Malawi Law Commission, following its review of the colonial abortion law, has proposed liberal changes which, if implemented, would expand access to safe abortion. However, the immediate step the government ought to take is to clarify the current abortion law, and not to wait for a new law expected to materialize in the indeterminate future.

Keywords: abortion law in Malawi, Colonial abortion law, Health and human rights, Implementing abortion law, Lawful abortion, Transparency in abortion law

Download this publication here: free access for only 12 months.
Submitted typescript, before publication:  is available here at SSRN.

Related resources:

Charles G. Ngwena, “Reforming African Abortion Laws and Practice: The Place of Transparency” Abortion Law in Transnational Perspective: Cases and Controversies ed. Rebecca J. Cook, Joanna N. Erdman, and Bernard M. Dickens (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014) pp 166-186, notes 419-422.      Article abstract online.   Abortion Law book Table of Contents and abstracts.   Book in Spanish.

“Achieving Transparency in Implementing Abortion Laws” by R.J. Cook, J.N. Erdman and B.M. Dickens (2007) 99 International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics 157-161.  Article and abstract online.

88 other concise IJGO articles on Ethical and Legal Issues in Reproductive Health are online here.

Compiled by
the Coordinator of the International Reproductive and Sexual Health Law Program, reprohealth*law at For Program publications and resources, see our website, online here. TO JOIN THIS BLOG: enter your email address in upper right corner of this webpage, then check your email to confirm the subscription.


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