By Allegresse Sasse
COTONOU, Oct 21 (Reuters) - Benin's parliament has voted to legalise abortion in most circumstances, the health ministry said on Thursday, becoming one of only a handful of African countries to do so.
Abortion was previously legal only in cases of rape or incest, if the mother's life was at risk, or if the unborn child had a particularly serious medical condition.
BENIN – Alerte sur les avortements sauvages (Alert on unsafe abortions)
by International Campaign for Women's Right to Safe Abortion
Dec 6, 2018
Despite the restrictions imposed by the law and a socio-cultural context where it remains a taboo subject, abortion is common in Benin where many girls and women practice it in hiding, risking their lives.
Solange, 32, remembers it as if it were yesterday. Pregnant a little over a month while she lives an adventure “without promises” with a man, she does not wish to keep the pregnancy. Already the father of a daughter whom his mother helps him to raise, this man is not ready to take on a second paternity. He cannot afford it, either. Very soon, they come into contact with a young man who puts them in contact with the “doctor” of a private care practice located in Akpakpa, a district of Cotonou. Against 30,000 FCFA, about US$51, the “doctor” helps Solange get rid of the pregnancy. “I do not even know if he was a doctor or not. My only concern at the time was to end this pregnancy,” says Solange today, who has done rather well. “He gave me an injection before “scraping” inside. It did not hurt. We were in a very dimly lit room.”
Abortion stigma: From judge to advocate
16 October 2018
When Beninese community leader Simon Gnansounou was first approached by volunteers from the Association Beninoise pour la Promotion de la Famille (ABPF) seeking support to provide abortion-related information and care in the town of Cocotomey-La Paix, he was sceptical. “I thought that it was to organize depravity,” the gregarious economist said at his small home office, surrounded by textbooks. “I was a bit suspicious at first!”
Gnansounou, a highly respected figure in this close-knit neighbourhood, changed his mind after persistent attempts by young volunteers to reassure him they wanted to stop young girls from risking injury and death due to unsafe abortion. “The first goal is actually to help the young girls not to get pregnant,” he added. “It’s a project for social development, and I am all for that.”