Innocent Zimbwa Gynecologist Under Investigation for Running Illegal Abortion Center
A Zimbabwean gynecologist named Innocent Zimbwa is currently being investigated for allegedly operating an illegal abortion center at his medical facility in Harare.
Additionally, it is claimed that he has been involved in conducting illegal surrogacy procedures on women.
Zimbwa, who specializes as an obstetrician and gynecologist, is accused of targeting sex workers and women in desperate situations who seek to terminate their pregnancies through illegal means. It is alleged that he assists women in reproductive technologies such as surrogacy and the illegal collection of eggs, which poses serious risks to women’s health and violates their rights.
Sources within the health sector have disclosed that Zimbwa is being probed for engaging in unethical conduct while performing his professional duties. If the allegations against him are proven to be true, his license may be revoked by the health council. A source associated with the health council stated that Zimbwa would never confess to performing abortions because he is aware of the legal consequences it would entail.
According to the source, there has been an ongoing private investigation into Zimbwa’s activities for some time. It is claimed that he carries out these procedures at his surgery on Central Avenue, despite the potential ramifications. Efforts to obtain a comment from Zimbwa have been unsuccessful, as he has not responded to phone calls.
In Zimbabwe, the Termination of Pregnancy Act of 1977 only permits abortions under specific circumstances. Engaging in illegal abortions can result in a penalty of up to five years of imprisonment or a fine. However, numerous women, including minors as young as 16 years old, reportedly seek out Zimbwa’s services to terminate pregnancies unlawfully. Some of these individuals are said to be commercial sex workers who desire a smooth and discreet procedure.
Backyard abortion facilities in Zimbabwe are often operated by unlicensed midwives and deregistered medical practitioners, posing significant risks of complications. This raises questions about why a registered medical practitioner like Zimbwa would choose to conduct these procedures illegally.
A survey of health professionals reveals that four out of ten women who undergo abortions in Zimbabwe experience complications such as hemorrhages or infections, with some even losing their lives during the process. The number of illegal abortions in the country has risen from 60,000 to 80,000 per year, which is a highly concerning and unsustainable trend. Poverty has also led many underage girls to resort to abortion as they struggle to support themselves financially.
Sex workers, who were surveyed by the health council during their investigation, expressed their concerns about how having a baby would impact their ability to continue their work and provide for themselves without a reliable source of income.
Under Zimbabwe’s restrictive abortion laws, women and girls who wish to terminate their pregnancies must resort to finding their own means, whether legal or otherwise. Apart from deregistered doctors, it is alleged that even some public hospital staff members are involved in the illegal abortion trade, aiding in the smuggling of abortion drugs.
An official from the health council revealed that doctors involved in illegal abortions can earn approximately $150 to $200 per procedure. In a good month, these doctors may attend to 15 to 25 abortion cases, making it a lucrative venture.
Zimbabwe currently faces a high maternal mortality rate, with 614 deaths per 100,000 live births, according to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). This places the country among the highest rates worldwide.