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AFRICA > Somalia mulls abortion right

MOGADISHU - The Associated Press

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Somali leaders are debating a new constitution that protects the right to have an abortion to save the life of the mother, and an international law group says the draft guarantees more fundamental rights than the U.S. Constitution.

That’s one reason some women are celebrating the document and hardline conservatives are protesting some of its more liberal promises. But some of the rights introduced by the new draft constitution, such as the right to medical care or clean, potable water, will be hard for the government to guarantee in a country where basic needs like food are not always met.

“All citizens, regardless of sex, religion, social or economic status, political opinion, clan, disability, occupation, birth or dialect shall have equal rights and duties before the law,” it says. Circumcision of girls is “a cruel and degrading customary practice, and is tantamount to torture. The circumcision of girls is prohibited.” The draft constitution says that abortion is contrary to Shariah law and is prohibited “except in cases of necessity, especially to save the life of the mother.”

Somali leaders - 825 of them - began a nine-day meeting on July 25 to examine, debate and vote on the constitution, a document that’s been years in the making.

July/28/2012

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