29 July 2016
By Flavia Nassaka
From January to May, the police recorded 325 cases related to abortion yet last year 1800 cases were recorded. In 2014, 1600 cases were recorded. These statistics were revealed by Police Spokesperson Fred Enanga during the launch of a report dubbed, 'Facing Uganda's Law on Abortion' in Kampala on July 28. Launched by health Civil Society Organizations - Center for Health Human Rights and Development (CEHURD) and the Center for Reproductive Rights, the report is a compilation of experiences of women and health service providers when they were faced with the challenge of abortion.
He said despite laws' criminalizing it, abortion remains a grim reality with most of the scenarios arising from bitter relationships.
"These are just a few that are reported. These people rarely come to police except when there is a death or major injury involved," he said adding that even those that go to police, after investigations only a few cases proceed to court.
Ministry of Health statistics indicate that 343 per 100,000 women who go to give birth die in the process. 26% of these are due to unsafe abortion. According to Dr. Charles Kiggundu, a Consultant Obstetrician Gynecologist at Mulago national referral hospital, 10,000 abortions are handled every year at the hospital where women who have terminated pregnancies are assessed and treated. He said the biggest barrier to accessing abortion is access to the service itself. "Some hospitals don't have the facilities, others the training and others the staff. Others may have all that in place but require a woman to fill in a police form before they can access the service. No woman will agree to sign it."
Prof. Anthony Mbonye, Ag. Director General of Health Services at the Ministry of Health said to tackle unnecessary deaths arising out of terminating pregnancies, he had proposed to introduce Manual Vacuum Aspiration (MVA) a safe medical procedure where a woman can end a pregnancy up to 12 weeks into it while still in the reproductive health department but this never came to pass. He recommends that women who get pregnant as a result of rape, violence or incest should be allowed to terminate it.
Without a law on abortion in place however, Mbonye said focus should be put on prevention now that women can access free contraceptives at government hospitals and cheaply in private facilities. Currently access stands at 30%. Still about 850,000 women get unwanted pregnancies every year.