Abortion rules should be relaxed to suit medical needs - Minister
Abortion is still a controversial topic in Sri Lanka. The Community
Health Services reveals that there are nearly 375,000 abortions carried
out a year and out of that 75,000 are legal abortions. These statistics
show the rising trend in unsafe abortions which is a major health and
social concern in the country.
The law restricts abortions. Section 303 of the penal code permits an
abortion when the life of the mother is threatened.
However, despite legal restrictions, abortions are performed in large
numbers, and research has proved that there are over 1,000 illegal
abortions that take place a day. It is mainly married women who decide
to abort due to socio-economic conditions.
Recently, the Minister of Child Development and Women's Affairs,
Tissa Karaliyadda made a special statement at the parliament on relaxing
the abortion rules in the country.
This is an interview done by the Sunday Observer with Minister
Q: Can you elaborate your statement on relaxing abortion
A: I made this statement in good faith and being the Minister
of Child Development and Women's Affairs. I have realised that abortions
are a major social issue.
We have to be more conscious and sensitive to this matter. Therefore,
I urged the Parliament to look into this matter in a more objective
manner and relax rules especially on incest and fetal abnormality.
Q: What is meant by incest and fetal abnormality? Can you
A: Incest is a sexual relationship between blood relatives.
For an example a sexual relationship between father and daughter, sister
and brother or between blood relatives is called incest.
Children born as a result of incest could be abnormal. Fetal
abnormality is the complexions on fetus which can occur due to various
reasons. Many mothers and families suffer due to abnormal child births.
It creates many social and economic problems.
Q: What was the response to your request in the Parliament?
A: There was a mix responses. However, it is yet the debate d
and a committee has been set up to discuss the matter.
The officials of Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Health and the
Ministry of Child Development and Women's Affairs held discussions last
We hope to arrive at a positive conclusion as soon as possible.
Q: By relaxing abortion rules only on incest and fetal
abnormality, do you believe abortion rules and regulations in the
country, are satisfactory?
A: Abortions should not be legalised. As the Minister of the
Child Development and Women's Affairs, I believe that we can improve the
rules and regulations on abortions for the welfare of the society.
Q: According to research 80 percent of the abortions are done
by married women. What are your comments?
A: Yes, that may be true. However, in Sri Lanka birth control
methods are popular and not costly. Community is responsible for family
People should be disciplined to plan their families.
Q: Women get pregnant due to sexual abuses. Don't you think it
is essential to relax abortion rules pertaining to sexual abuse?
A: This is a complicated situation because there are instances
where women sue men for sexual harassments or abuses even after having
sexual affairs with them. This is may be due to many social constraints
in the society. Our Ministry helps women who face sexual abuse and mete
out justice to victims. Legalizing abortions could also a bad influence
Q: How does your Ministry create awareness about abortion
A: Our aim is to educate and empower women who could also be
actively involved in the economy. We conduct many awareness programs
especially in rural areas as well as urban cities on abortion rules and
regulations through Community Health Services.
Q: When do you hope to obtain the approvals and formulate the
A: It is still under discussion. I hope to get the approval as