BY ALEX DADAMU
A Women Health Report released on Thursday 20 October highlighting the determinants, practices, and consequences of unsafe abortion in the Solomon Islands has recommended a specific review of existing laws relating to abortion.
The report which consists of two research projects, one carried out at Honiara and Guadalcanal in 2015 and another in 2018 at Isabel, Guadalcanal, and Malaita, said that the Solomon Islands Law Reform Commission has been given a Terms of Reference to review the Penal Code, which includes provisions relating to abortion.
“The SI Law Reform Commission has been given a Terms of Reference to review the Penal Code, which includes provisions relating to abortion, and has recommended that a specific review into the reform of existing laws be conducted in addition to issuing guidelines clarifying the existing legislative exemptions for when medical and surgical aborting are permissible,” the report stated.
The report further recommends that the evidence generated from these and other studies support existing efforts on the part of the Solomon Islands government and civil society organizations to expand girls’ and women’s reproductive rights.
Furthermore, outside of the health sector, the report stated that programs addressing gendered norms and knowledge gaps that prevent women from accessing and using modern contraception, and negotiating consensual sex through community-level engagement and comprehensive sexuality education in schools are needed.
“Within the education sector, supporting the continuing education of girls who become pregnant is also a priority.
“These findings, and recent studies on the status of girls and women’s sexual and reproductive rights, contribute to an evidence base to support the ongoing efforts of the Ministry of Health and Medical Services (MHMS), with support from Solomon Islands Planned Parenthood Association (SIPPA), other civil society organizations and development partners, to prevent and respond to unintended pregnancy and unsafe abortion,” the Women Health Report stated.
Post-abortion complications account for 2.4% of admission at the National Referral Hospital (NRH) at an average cost close to SBD10, 000 per admission.
“Those figures represented a significant and largely preventable burden on the country’s health system,” the report pointed out.