Abortion Laws in Malawi
Is abortion legal in Malawi?
Abortion in Malawi is legally restricted. However, the Malawian constitution, specifically the Termination of Pregnancy Bill, allows for the following exceptions:
- If the woman’s life is in danger
- If the continuation of the pregnancy may jeopardize the physical and mental health of the pregnant woman
- If the pregnancy was as a result of rape, defilement or incest
- Gross fetal malformation
However, Malawi’s penal code, which is the highest law of the land, only allows for termination of pregnancy when the life of the mother is in danger. The penal code generally prohibits abortion and lists self-inducing abortion or providing any other type of “unlawful” abortion as felonies punishable with a 10-year prison sentence.
What are the different abortion services available in Malawi?
- Medical abortion - also known as the “Abortion pill” (Misoprostol, brand name Cytotec)
- Surgical abortion
- Manual Vacuum Aspiration (MVA)
- Dilation and Curettage (D&C)
Who can perform abortions in Malawi?
In Malawi an abortion can be performed by any of the following:
- Professional Doctors
- Professional Nurse
- Professional Midwife
- Professional Clinical officer trained in provision of abortion services
Where can I go for abortion services in Malawi?
- Blue Star Reproductive Health Network: This is a network of health professionals in the private and public sector who are committed to reducing maternal morbidity and mortality associated with unsafe abortion and postpartum hemorrhage. The network’s membership is drawn from health professional associations.
- Pharmacies provide abortion pills with a written prescription from a doctor.
- Private hospitals provide safe abortion services through Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
What is the cost of an abortion in Malawi?
Safe methods of terminating an early pregnancy or procuring safe abortions at clinics can cost up to MK10, 500 (UDS$200).
What are the legal and safe drugs available in Malawi?
- Misoprostol (Cytotec)
Can I buy abortion pills at a pharmacy in Malawi?
Abortion pills can be bought at the pharmacy but can only be issued following a professional doctor’s prescription.
Who can I contact for additional abortion information and support in Malawi?
- Centre for Social Concern and Development (CESOCODE) works to create a world free from violence against girls through advocacy, mobilization, training and education. Tel: 999458907
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- 1. “The duty to make abortion law transparent: A Malawi case study.” International Journal of Gynaecology & Obstetrics. https://doi.org/10.1002/ijgo.12630
- 2. “Proposed Termination of Pregnancy Bill in Malawi: Doctors use the best of what they have.” Malawi Medical Journal, National Center for Biotechnology Information. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5442499/
- 3. “Costs of postabortion care in public sector health facilities in Malawi: a cross-sectional survey.” BMC Health Services Research. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12913-015-1216-2
- 4. “A strategic assessment of unsafe abortion in Malawi.” Home Health Care Services Quarterly, Taylor & Francis Online. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0968-8080(11)37563-5