Over 30 women, representing organizations in favour of the Bill to decriminalize abortion for the first time, even if only under four distinct circumstances, met the Attorney General yesterday Monday 14 May 2012 to appeal to him to stand firm and go ahead with the Bill. He gave his assurance that the Government was firmly behind him, and that the Bill would be brought forward the next day.
Representatives of the Muvman Liberasyon Fam, WIN (Women in Netowrking), the Mauritius Alliance of Women, Gender Links and Media Watch, Dis-Moi (Droits humains Maurice/Ocean Indien), the Confederation des Travailleurs de Secteur Prive, the Women International, the Mauritius Family Planning and Welfare Association, one by one gave their arguments in support of the Bill, even though, for many women, it is not the full decriminalization that we are struggling for.
On the same day the forces “against” the Bill had invited all MPs to come to a meeting, but only 5 had attended, most of whom spoke in favour of the Bill.
Here is a copy of the letter by the Common Front to the Attorney General:
From: Common Front to Support the new Abortion Bill
c/o Ragini Kistnasamy, Vidya Charan, Manda Boolell, Marie-Noelle Elissac.
14 May 2012
The Attorney General, Hon. Yatin Varma,
We, as women concerned about the health of all women in the Republic of Mauritius, while working towards the respect for human rights of all women in the country, and mindful that our country respects international human rights Conventions like CEDAW, call on you, as Attorney General and as the Minister responsible for piloting the Bill through the National Assembly, to stand firm and go ahead with the proposed law. This Bill, we realize, decriminalizes abortion under only four specific conditions, and though many of us would prefer a broader decriminalization of all women already in distress, we nevertheless support this Bill wholeheartedly.
We call on you, therefore, to go ahead, with the First Reading tomorrow, Tuesday 15 May, and then to proceed to the Second Reading, debate and a vote on the following Tuesday, as planned. Debate has already taken place for some 50 years over this retrograde 1838 Criminal Law Code. Every delay risks more women's health and lives. Now is the time to act. We believe that the law will pass.
This will be a new milestone for women after that of the introduction of contraception into government health services in the 1960s.
For the Common Front