In the past week, multiple articles and media coming from various news outlets have alleged that Ministry of Health is urging the Government of Samoa to legalize abortion and gay marriage. We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this matter has caused for the general public.
It is the Ministry’s perspective that the media has misquoted and taken out of context the National HIV, AIDS and STI Policy 2017-2022.
As of date, no media outlets have consulted the Ministry on the related statements before publication regarding Abortion and Gay Marriage.
The Ministry had queried the Samoa Observer’s Chief Reporter Joyetter Luamanu via email on September 1st, 2017 regarding the matter.
Her response is noted in the email trails stating that she did not make any reference to same sex marriage and that they understood MoH does not support abortion.
The copy of these emails is attached for your reference.
The Street Talk column of the Samoa Observer by Lizzy Hunt took the policy (which is not a law or act) out of context by stating that MoH is calling to “change law to allow abortion”, when in reality MoH expressed its concern through the policy for high risk cases with life threatening infections.
In that connection, we wish to clarify that MoH did not advocate making abortion legal, as it is illegal and MoH is compliant to the law.
The policy merely asserts that the current law states (s116, Crimes Act 2013) that abortion is legal for women only if their mental or physical health is synergises with the Act which refers only to the access to services of victims of rape, incest victims and STI/HIV+ (positive) women, whose mental/physical health could be threatened by giving birth and/or result in transmitting HIV to the unborn child (MTCT - Mother to Child Transmission). The latter are particularly high risk cases in which the policy advocated for their needs to be prioritised.
As for gay marriage, marital practices do not fall under the legal charge of the Ministry of Health. Therefore MoH has not and will never make any recommendations regarding marriage as it does not relate to health.
Given the nature of Journalism ethics practiced by the Samoan Observer, this press release serves to clear misunderstandings.
The Ministry of Health requests that all media make the effort in future reporting to be specific in what MoH’s views are, and consult with MoH before publishing articles, especially with sensitive material like this, so as to avoid unnecessary controversy.
Faia ma le faaaloalo tele.
Leausa Toleafoa Dr. Take Naseri
Director General/Chief Executive Officer; Ministry of Health