Monday, December 11, 2017 12:05:14 PM

Let Women Decide: Some Feminist Perspectives on the ‘Abortion Debate’

By Subha Wijesiriwardena - Sun Oct 01, 12:45 am

Featured image courtesy Edson Chilundo/Flickr 

At this moment in Sri Lanka, ‘the abortion debate’ has sprung up once again; with the cabinet purportedly attempting to pass a bill which would legalize abortions for women under two circumstances[1] – if the woman is a victim of rape or if the foetus is detected to have ‘Lethal Congenital Malformation’. The Sri Lankan Penal Code of 1883 1883) criminalizes all attempts to abort a foetus, including  assisting in an abortion – other than when a physician performs an abortion to save the life of the woman – which would of course have to be duly proven.

Sections 303-306 of the Penal Code of Sri Lanka detail this law, and even goes so far as to say, ‘It is not essential to this offence that the offender should know that the act is likely to cause death.’

This Penal Code – that part of our colonial inheritance – has seen the rare amendment, but never in these sections. The ‘abortion debate’ has risen and fallen multiple times over the last few decades, most significantly in 1997 when there was a push similar to this for amendment. There have been objections and blocks right along, often arising from religious institutions. Just some weeks ago our ‘religious leaders’ said, almost unanimously it would seem, ‘No’….

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