The Common Front on Abortion on Tuesday submitted a petition signed by its founder-members to the Prime Minister for the immediate suspension of the 1838 anti-abortion law. This is a new demand in response to the 33 year delay in a new law. LALIT has since then signed up to the petition for suspension of the law.
The question of the continued illegality of abortion has become pressing, especially after the tragic death of Marie-Noelle Derby, photographer-journalist 31 years of age, and in the context of the criminal charges against 25-year-old Shabeela Kalla, who will be in the Intermediate Court on 7 May after undergoing an abortion under duress.
Below is the content (in translation from the Kreol):
Given the deaths of many women after illegal abortion, and with the aim of preventing further deaths,
We put the following interim demand to you as Prime Minister:
that the Government/National Assembly, as debate on a new law continues, in the meantime, suspends the 1838 anti-abortion law.
Prior to this, it will be necessary to amend the law that governs illegal practice of medicine so as to ensure that backstreet abortions are deemed to be "illegal practice of medicine".
Vidya B.Charan, Mauritius Family Planning and Welfare Association (M.F.P.W.A)
Rita Ramdin, Mauritius Alliance of Women (M.A.W)
Rajni Lallah , Muvman Liberasyon Fam (M.L.F)
Marie-Noelle Elissac-Foy, Women In Networking (W.I.N)
Liliane Julien, Federation of Parastatal Bodies and Other Unions (F.P.B.O.U)
Christine Rochecouste-Collet , Soroptimist Club de Port-Louis
Soomantee Brigemohane, Women's International Association
Leela Devi Dookun-Lutchoomun, Individual (Ed: She is an MP)
Touria Prayag, Individual
Vel Moonien, Journalist
Deepa Bhookhun, Journalist
Michaela Seblin, Individual/Journalist
Daniella Bastien, Individual
Nathalie Rose, Individual
This joint letter was delivered in person to the Prime Minister's Office on Tuesday 14 April, 2009 at 12.15 hrs. It has since been signed by Lindlay Couronne of Amnesty International and Ram Seegobin of LALIT, and by dozens of individuals. The Common Front will now be increasing its membership.
At a public Forum organized by Women in Networking on Thursday, 16 April at the Municipal Council Chamber in Port Louis, women present decided to go to the Intermediate Court on 7 May, both in support of Shabeela Kalla and as a way of saying we are in favour of the demand for the immediate suspensio of the anti-abortion law. Speakers at the Forum, which was moderated by Jane Valls of WIN, were Vidya Charran for MFPWA, Rookaya Kasenally, lecturer at the University of Mauritius, and Lindsey Collen of Muvman Liberasyon Fam.
For the record, here is the Kreol original of the petition to the Prime Minister: "Etan done ki buku fam finn truv lamor,
E dan enn demars pu anpes ankor fam truv lamor swit a lavortman ilegal,
Nu fer demand interimer swivan a u, antan ki Premye Minis:
Pandan ki deba lor enn nuvo lalwa pe derule,
Ki Guvernman/Lasanble Nasyonal sispann lalwa anti-lavortman 1838-la, antretan.
Avan sa, li pu neseser amand lalwa ki rezir pratik ilegal lamedsinn,
pu asire ki lavortman klandesten (backstreet) konsidere kuma pratik ilegal lamedsinn".