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  • finally, we need understanding, not condemnation
      Posted Aug 20, 2004 6:15 PM

      Judge wants abortion laws re-examined

      NATIONAL Court judge David Cannings has asked Parliament to review an anti-abortion law under which a woman can be jailed up to seven years.
      He is of the opinion that abortion is a social issue and the offender should not be treated like a criminal.
      He said that he also could not find any record of a woman PNG being convicted of such an offence.
      Justice Cannings made the comments on Monday when acquitting a woman charged with taking a poison to abort her unborn child in Wewak, East Sepik.
      He said that after examining statements given by Gwen Maika and witnesses, it appeared that police, lawyers and others parts of the criminal justice system had been misused to bring the case to trial.
      Ms Maika of Masandanai in East Sepik was alleged to have taken poison, namely raw eggs and lemon grass, with intent to have a miscarriage on Jan 7, 2004.
      Section 225(2) of the Criminal Code states that a woman who causes her own miscarriage is guilty of a crime and the penalty is imprisonment for a term not exceeding seven years.
      "Section 225(2) is one of a number of so-called morality crimes whose place in today's statute book should be questioned by the legislature," Justice Cannings said.
      "There seems to me a strong argument to say that any woman who seriously sought to procure her own miscarriage would be engaged by an act of desperation. She would be a person in need of guidance, counselling and caring.
      "It seems that such a person might not be the sort of person who ought to be subject to a police investigation and criminal sanctions."

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