No Stand-Alone Bill On Abortion -Pro-temp Chie Asserts; Dismisses Speculations

MONROVIA:  The President Protempore of the Liberian Senate, Grand Kru County Senator Albert Tugbeh Chie has clarified that there is no stand-alone bill on abortion before the senate as it is being conceived in some quarters. He said instead that there is rather a new chapter in the New Public Health Bill on sexual and reproductive health which addresses issues like sex education, family planning and abortion.

Senator Chie made the clarification when he addressed the Opening of the Special Session of the Legislature on August Tuesday, 22 at the Capitol Building on Capitol Hill.

“For the record, it is imperative that I state that the bill came to the Senate from the Honorable House of Representative for our concurrence,” the Senate’s Presiding Chair further clarified, stating that joint public hearings were conducted by the Committees on Health of both Chambers before the House passed on the bill.

“At the Senate, several consultations and public hearings have been held and we have not arrived at a final version for the approval by the Senate Plenary.  The bill has been at the Legislature since February 2020 and is therefore not a new legislative instrument,” he explained.

“We are appalled by the interference in our legislative processes,” he said, condemning what he referred to as “the lies which have been propagated by people who have little or no understanding of the various issues contained in the new proposed Public Health Law and the transparent manner in which the debate has been proceeding at the Liberian Senate.”

Senator Chie seized the opportunity to thank all the local stakeholders, international partners of the government and health professionals who worked along with the Ministry of Health to prepare the reverse public health bill and along with others in the public, who have participated  in the various consultations  for the approval of the instrument by the Legislature.

The Senate convened yesterday for a special session to consider time-bound matters of national interest in line with Article 32(b) of the 1986 Constitution, according to the Senate leadership. “Let me thank you for cutting short your constituency visit and return to the capitol to attend these matters. This call aalso concerns the middle of the campaign period and we are especially grateful for the consideration of  honoring our call,” the Protempore applauded his colleagues.

“In this special session, we will consider new issues and some of the issues that have been in committee rooms which need urgent attention,” he told his colleagues.

However, he informed members of the Senate that they will not receive extra remuneration from the national treasury since their reconvening is at the behest of members of the Legislature, adding that they are ‘meeting one short of the total membership of the Liberian Senate,’ and noted that the Senate mourn the home going of Senator Daniel Flomo Naatehn of Gbarpolu County who recently died in India and was flown back home.

He then reminded his fellow Senate colleagues that his proposed agenda for the session will consist of agenda items that should be completed in two weeks, the maximum time for which the Senate has to reconvene, including continuation of debate on the amended Public Health Law.

“It is important to stress that the new proposed public health law contains many contemporary issues important to health care delivery in our country other than issues of abortion contained in the bill; most especially challenges, experience and knowledge gained from the Ebola outbreak and the COVID-19 Pandemic,” he asserted.

“The Bill contains issues of bio-security and bio-safety, improvements on occupational health, provisions on foods and other products for infants and young children, new chapter on traditional alternative medicines, new provisions on emergency treatments, and many others.”

Secondly, Hon. Chie said primary on his agenda was the issue of elections.

The national Elections Commission will be cited to provide information on its total preparedness for the conduct of the Legislative and Presidential Elections on October 10, including the issue of security in elections.

“The government continues to attract private sector investment, upholds the sanity of  existing contracts and reviews existing ones due to profound changes in circumstances as well as ratification of an amended Mineral Development Agreement will be a principal agenda item for this special Session,” he said

He accentuated other agenda items to  include the continuation of confirmation process of nominated commissioners of the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission; briefing from the Ministry of Public Works on the mandate given by the Liberian Senate to have the two primary Southeastern Road Corridors  pliable within thirty (30) days; passage of the free tuition act, and any other urgent matter of national interest which will be sent to the Legislature from the Executive  or other matter originating from the Senate floor.

He said: “Distinguish colleagues, in my two last addresses to the Senate, I informed the public that the Liberian Senate will help ensure transparent, fair, free and violent-free elections in October. Firstly, as campaign activities heat up  all across the country, we call on all political parties and actors to exercise due care  to avoid clashes and electoral violence.”

He also noted there have begun the beating of war drums from some quarters doubting the achievement of one round victory in the October elections.

“Some political parties are projecting the winning of the Presidential election on the first ballot. In my opinion, it is healthy in our democratic space for political parties to declare such aspirations and work towards it,” he stressed.

The Senate Pro tempore therefore caution those who have begun to insinuate this is not possible under a free and fair election scheme to desist from making such utterances as they have the propensity to create post-election confusion.

Comments are closed.