MONROVIA – Sources close to the Liberian Senate have revealed to Smart News Liberia that the Swedish Government has allegedly dished out US$20,000 per Senator in order to have their votes in favor of a bill to legalize abortion in Liberia. Currently, the bill is under discussion in the Joint Committee room of the Senate, where its potential legalization is being deliberated. Liberia, a conservative society deeply rooted in religious beliefs, faces a significant decision on this matter.
The Swedish government, according to credible sources, has allegedly made money available and assured Senators additional payment if they complete the task – pass the bill to legalize abortion.
However, the debate on the bill was suspended before the Liberian legislature recessed until after the elections, which are scheduled for October 10. However, there have been reports indicating that President George Weah has recalled the national legislature to address the matter, which is the potential passage of the abortion bill.
Yesterday, US Congressman, Chris Smith in a statement said, “Based on credible allegations of bribery and influence peddling.” Adding, “I am respectfully and urgently requesting that both the Governments of Sweden and Liberia immediately investigate and determine whether or several Liberian Senators or Representatives received cash payments to influence or secure their votes in favor of pending legislation to legalize abortion-on-demand.”
Rep. Smith, Chairman of the Global Health and Global Human Rights Committee further stressed in the statement that “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 my sources are correct and developes filled with bribery money-allegedly up to US$20,000 per Senator-were conveyed.”
Smith has accused Sweden of allegedly bribing people in the legislature, the government and other places to ensure the passage of the bill.
Reacting to the allegation by Representative Smith, the Government of Sweden though did not name Rep. Smith, disclosed it remains steadfast in supporting pro-choice activists and funding campaigns that advocate for the legalization of abortion in Liberia even though it “respects the views of religious leaders” who oppose abortion.
Swedish Ambassador to Liberia Urban Sjöström, spoke to a local newspaper recently after members of Liberia’s Religious Council strongly criticized the Swedish Embassy in Liberia for funding campaigns that push for the legalization of abortion in Liberia.
The Council spoke as the Senate attempts to amend the Public Health Law to make abortion legal after coming under intense pressure from the Amplifying Rights Network, a coalition of ten civil society organizations, which is allegedly supported by the Swedish government and has been pushing and holding campaigns for the decriminalization of abortion.
“Yes, Sweden supports decriminalization of abortion, as recommended in WHO’s 2022 Abortion Care Guideline, which recommends the full decriminalization of abortion,” Sjöström said in response to an email from a local paper, Daily Observer seeking comments.
“Sweden recognizes that this is a complex issue in Liberia and in many countries and respects the views of the leaders of faith-based organizations in Liberia. But the ongoing process to revise Liberia’s public health law is a domestic endeavor that follows the integrity and independence of Liberia’s law-making process. Sweden applauds the initiative and supports CSO’s who stand behind the bill and will continue to support them in their important work.
It is not clear, how President Weah, a preacher man in a church, would want to recall the Legislature, to amongst other things pass the abortion bill. Eyes are on the Legislature on this.