MONROVIA – Former Liberian Health Minister Dr. Peter Coleman has refuted claims that he led an alleged campaign of bribery in the Liberian legislature aimed at changing the country’s public health law, particularly regarding abortion.
Dr. Peter Coleman, a former Grand Kru County Senator, acknowledges his support for the abortion bill currently under consideration in the Liberian Senate. However, he emphasizes that his stance is based on his personal conviction, shaped by his experiences as a medical doctor.
Coleman told this medium in an exclusive interview recently that he’s one of those who believe that women should have the choice to keep a pregnancy or not and that his conviction is not propelled by bribery but the pains that young women bears.
U.S. Congressman Chris Smith, Chair of the House Global Health and Global Human Rights Subcommittee recently accused Liberian politicians and the Swedish Government of bribery to change the public health law of Liberia.
Rep. Smith says based on credible allegations of bribery among Liberian lawmakers, he is requesting the governments of Sweden and Liberia to immediately investigate the lawmakers who allegedly received cash payments to secure their votes in favor to legalize abortion in Liberia.
The US Congressman said the Government of Sweden has aggressively pressured Liberia to enact sweeping new pro-abortion legislation but may have crossed the line and committed serious crimes if his sources are correct and envelop filled with bribery money-allegedly up to US$20,000 per Senator-were conveyed.
However, Dr. Coleman pointed out that the present public health law, especially the one on abortion, is killing a lot of young girls and women, especially between the ages of 15 to 18. Dr. Coleman said because the public health law of Liberia prohibits abortion, young girls are doing it illegally under cover and when it goes wrong, they are rushed to hospitals and at times, have their uteruses removed to correct the procedure.
According to Dr. Coleman, he believes that women and girls must decide whether to keep a pregnancy, especially under 18 weeks. He added that the abortion bill pending at the Liberian Senate is in accordance with international protocols and best practices; some of which said Liberia is a signatory to.
He amitted that he works as a consultant at the Ministry of Health and has been working with Liberian lawmakers to have the existing public health law changed in favor of legal abortion; while repeatedly denying any form of bribery. He said he has been moved by what he sees everyday in the operation room when performing surgery as a medical doctor.