The Donald Trump administration has left young people vulnerable to pregnancy related complications after prohibiting organisations funded by the United States government from supporting abortions. Linile Malunga, head of health department at Save the Children – an organisation which works to promote adolescent sexual reproductive health (ASRH) revealed said Trump’s decision was a double blow to the Zimbabwean teenager as it militates against advocacy for the realisation their rights including the right to abort. “The Mexico City Policy prohibits any organisation using US money from encouraging abortion or advise a teenager to have their pregnancy taken out. We are still negotiating on how to proceed. “Also, we can’t work against the policy of Zimbabwe although we may have different views,” Malunga said on Tuesday during a media sensitisation workshop hosted by her organisation. This comes against high teen pregnancy and maternal mortality rates particularly in Africa and Zimbabwe. Statistics show that at least 20,000 women are dying every year from complications associated with abortion while more than 80,000 terminate their pregnancies illegally. Abortion in Zimbabwe is only legal under Section 4 of the Termination of Pregnancy Act in select cases such when the life of the mother and her physical health is endangered or where there is a serious risk that the child to be born will suffer from physical or mental defects that leave them permanently or seriously handicapped. Unlawful termination attracts a fine of or imprisonment for a period not exceeding five years or both. The teenage pregnancy rate in Zimbabwe stands at 24 percent while contraception prevalence rate is 59 percent. Zimbabwe National Family Planning Council (ZNFPC) ASRH manager Caiphas Chanana said, “We aim to reduce morbidity and mortality in our young people. “Those who are not indulging we say continue to abstain. But what do we do with those engaging? “Our challenge is some people of my age are not accepting that our young people are now indulging at a very tender age.” Chinana added; “It’s high time we accept it. It’s a challenge we face as service providers. A child of 12 comes asking for contraception you struggle to say should I give should I not? “50 percent of people living with HIV are young people and 22 percent of maternal deaths are young people below the age of 20. It’s the reality we have to face but what are our laws saying…government doesn’t allow abortions so we say let’s prevent them.” Young people, according to health policies, are aged 10 to 24. Poverty, harmful cultural practices, lack of information, inadequate relevant services, inadequate policy and regulatory framework are the major drivers for ASRH problems.

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