By Chris Kiwawulo
A Ugandan medical student attending a conference in Accra, Ghana recently stunned participants when he said he was ready to go to jail for ensuring that girls who get unwanted pregnancies secure safe abortions.
Maxwell Ogwal, a student at Gulu University, said he was once arrested for helping a young girl abort.
â€œI helped a girl who had been stopped from sitting her exams at a school in northern Uganda to secure an abortion. Thereafter, the Police called me to make a statement and I was detained.
Although I got out on bond, I still have a case to answer,â€ Ogwal said, adding that he believes it is a womanâ€™s right to get rid of an unwanted pregnancy.
â€œI am willing to face any challenge in the pursuit of the legalisation of abortion in Uganda,â€ Ogwal told the over 50 participants in a session on unsafe abortion and young women, where he was a presenter.
The session was running during the one-week conference addressing unsafe abortion in Africa at the Ghana College of Physicians and Surgeons in Accra.
â€œUganda can borrow a leaf from countries like South Africa. Otherwise, we are losing a lot of people who would have been useful to our society due to unsafe abortion,â€ Ogwal said.
Ogwalâ€™s co-presenter, Thomas Munjovo, a peer educator from South Africa, called on African leaders to emulate his countryâ€™s example, arguing that maternal deaths had reduced a great deal since abortion was legalised in his country.
â€œWe are now trying to ensure that women, especially in rural areas, get information about the availability of safe abortion. Our only challenge is that the services are not enough for all the people.â€