Changing Africa’s abortion laws

Aug 12, 2020
15-minute podcast

This week, Africa Science Focus takes a closer look at how women in Sub-Saharan Africa access abortions.

Episode Two

Malawi’s maternal mortality rate remains one of the highest in the world, with
complications from unsafe abortion estimated to account for up to 18 per cent
of maternal deaths.

“This current law now is killing people, it’s killing women, it’s killing
girls, because it’s not safe, it’s not accommodative,” a woman who was unable
to access a legal abortion tells Africa Science Focus.


Zambia – UNFPA warns against unsafe pregnancies

UNFPA warns against unsafe pregnancies

December 25, 2019

THE United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has warned against unsafe abortion which could lead to injury, disability or death among women and girls.

UNFPA says there is therefore need to raise awareness among women and clinicians that there is, however, abortion legislation in Zambia that allows women to seek safe abortions at health centres.


Africa – What difference does a law make?

What difference does a law make?

Unsafe abortion – responsible for some 18% of all maternal deaths in sub-Saharan Africa – is one of the most neglected sexual and reproductive health problems in the world today. A new collection in International Journal for Equity in Health aims to shed light on the articulation between the legal, political, social, and cultural conditions that work to enhance or hinder access to safe abortion services.

Marte E. S. Haaland
19 Dec 2019

Worldwide, as many as 19-20 million women resort to unsafe abortions every year. Many of these result in complications that cause considerable damage and even death, making abortion a key issue of women’s health and gender equity. Nevertheless, abortion remains a contentious issue among global health actors, and is often neglected and overlooked. When abortion is addressed, it is commonly discussed in terms of legalization or criminalization, and liberal abortion laws are often understood as synonymous to easy access to abortion services. A recently published collection in the International Journal for Equity in Health scrutinizes this assumption and asks the question: What difference does an abortion law really make for girls’ and women’s access to safe abortion services?


100 Women: The modern face of the ‘DIY abortion’

100 Women: The modern face of the 'DIY abortion'

6 June 2018

Global online searches for abortion pills have more than doubled over the last decade, BBC analysis of Google searches shows. The findings also suggest that in countries where abortion laws are more restrictive, there is greater search interest in abortion pills.

By buying pills online and sharing medical advice through WhatsApp groups, women are increasingly turning to technology to sidestep legal barriers to abortion.


Zambia: Media, civil society urged to work together on reproductive health

Media, civil society urged to work together on reproductive health

July 22, 2017

GOVERNMENT has called on the media and civil society organisations to co-exist to ensure information on sexual and reproductive health is made available to the public in a more accurate and relevant manner.

Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Services director of press and media development, Isaac Chipampe also implored the media to tone down on political rhetoric and instead write more on challenges affecting people, especially on their health.

Speaking during a breakfast meeting yesterday, Mr Chipampe said sexual and reproductive health matters and the magnitude on unsafe abortion in Zambia need to be disseminated and enable the public to know.

Continued at source: Daily Mail:

Zambia: Adolescents muse on reproductive health encounters

Adolescents muse on reproductive health encounters
May 23, 2017


ONE of the targets of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 3 is that by 2030, the world should ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive healthcare services, including the integration of reproductive health into national strategies and programmes.

One of the proposed indicators of this target is that the proportion of women of reproductive age 15-49 years- should have their need for family planning satisfied with modern methods.

Increased access to Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) information and services is key to reducing the number of girls becoming pregnant, leading to a reduction in the number of unsafe abortions among this age group, which according to expert reports, is mostly affected by unsafe abortions.

Continued at source: Daily Mail:

Africa: Abortion’s moral questions are best addressed outside criminal law

Abortion's moral questions are best addressed outside criminal law
Wednesday January 18 2017, Daily Nation


In June 2013, Louise (not her real name), an 18 year old girl in junior high school, was four-months pregnant when she attempted to procure an abortion in Kigali, Rwanda.

Because of stigma around abortion in her community, she visited a private clinic outside Kigali where the doctor gave her some pills. When she returned to Kigali, she began haemorrhaging and sought assistance from her neighbours, who immediately informed the police after discovering that she had attempted to procure an abortion.

[continued at link]
Source, Daily Nation:

Zambia must protect women’s right to make free sexual and reproductive choices

by Louise Carmody & Bob Mwiinga Munyati, Africa 29 Sep 2016 01:08 (South Africa)

As Zambians took to the polls last month they voted not only for their choice of president, but also in a constitutional referendum proposing changes to the bill of rights. While President Edgar Lungu was declared the winner of the election, political figures lamented the outcome of the failed referendum as a missed opportunity for Zambians to advance protection for social and economic rights after it didn’t meet the 50% voter turnout threshold required to make it a supreme law of the country. By LOUISE CARMODY and BOB MWIINGA MUNYATI.

For many women’s rights advocates, Zambia’s failed referendum is a welcome reprieve. The draft included problematic clauses that could have seriously undermined the human rights of women and girls in Zambia.

[continued at link]
Source: Daily Maverick

Africa: Abortion sparks heated debate at Ticad side event

Zambian economist Highvie Hamdudu confers with his Cameroonian counterpart Marie Rose Nguini Effa during a discussion on reproductive health for the youth in Africa at a Ticad side event in Nairobi on August 26, 2016. PHOTO | AGGREY MUTAMBO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Health PS Nicholas Muraguri argued the debate on legalising abortion should be turned into a campaign to prevent teenage pregnancies.

Friday August 26 2016, The Daily Nation


Government health officials clashed on Friday with representatives of a global reproductive health campaigner over the approach to be taken on abortion policy.

At event to discuss reproductive health in Africa, Health Principal Secretary Nicholas Muraguri argued the debate on legalising abortion should instead be turned into a campaign to prevent teenage pregnancies.

“We remain committed as a country to ensure that people are able to access all the services they need and the debate about abortion can continue.

"But more important, we know that abortion is a reflection of unwanted pregnancies,” he said during the discussion at a side meeting to the sixth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (Ticad) in Nairobi.

[continued at link]
Source: The Daily Nation, Kenya