MONROVIA – Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ), Chair of the House Global Health and Global Human Rights Subcommittee has called on the Liberian Senate to live up to its obligation and defend life at all stages by rejecting a bill seeking “to expand abortion and promote population control.”
By: Gerald C. Koinyeneh – [email protected]
“The Liberian Senate must live up to its obligations to defend life at all stages from womb to tomb and must reject any changes to their national law that would weaken protections for unborn children, including proposals allowing unrestricted abortion until 18 weeks,” Rep. Smith said.
For some time now, the Senate Joint Committee on Health, Gender, Social and Children Protection, as well as Judiciary has been debating whether Section 16.3 of the country’s penal code, which criminalizes abortion, should stay the same or expand the scope under which the procedure is allowed.
Under Section 16.3, abortion is legal if it occurs only after a licensed physician determines there is a substantial risk that continuing the pregnancy would gravely impair the mother’s physical and/or mental health.
If the Senate votes to expand abortion, and the passes through the necessary steps to become law, Liberia would join a handful of African countries to become a leader in reproductive rights in the sub-region.
With support from the Ministry of Health and UNFPA, most of the lawmakers are said to be in favor of the expansion of abortion rights and birth control. Recently, the Chairman of the Health Committee at the House of Representatives, Rep. Joseph Somwarbi (District #3, Nimba County), speaking at a forum in Monrovia, disclosed that the bill has been in the Legislature for the past six years and is still under scrutiny.
However, in his statement issued on Sunday in Washington, Rep. Smith, known for his conservative views, said, “bortion takes the life of an unborn child, who can feel the pain of abortion, and abortion harms the mother psychologically, spiritually and often physically. Rather, protections should be enhanced for mothers and unborn children.”
Putting Biden Administration Under Probe
Further in his statement, the Republican lawmaker said the US Congress will thoroughly examine whether the Biden Administration broke US law and violated the Siljander Amendment by promoting abortion in Liberia, and whether it is overlooking the corruption of the Weah Administration in order to secure acquiescence for its neo-colonialist population control agenda.
The Siljander Amendment, passed by Congress in 1981, prohibits the use of funds to lobby for or against abortion. When initially introduced, the amendment prohibited only lobbying for abortion, but in subsequent years, Congress modified the language to include lobbying against abortion as well.