Oct. 18, 2022
By Anu Kumar (Ipas)
Graphics by Sara Chodosh
Abortion has been legal in Ethiopia under a broad range of circumstances for the past 17 years. Nevertheless, at the Shekebedo Health Center, abortions cannot be performed at all. The clinic, situated in a rural part of southwestern Ethiopia where quality health care is hard to access, is partially funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development. This funding has stopped the clinic from offering abortions to Ethiopian women.
The U.S. law that has impeded Shekebedo from providing abortions, known as the Helms Amendment, was passed in 1973 during the backlash to Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in all 50 states — and which the current court overturned in June. Helms prohibits the federal government from using foreign aid to pay for “abortion as a method of family planning.”
Unsafe abortions once killed hundreds of Ethiopian women each year. Not any more.
Banchiamlack Dessalegn, Africa Director at MSI Reproductive Choices.
28 Sep 2022
As an Ethiopian American, I am disturbed that the United States is rolling back the reproductive rights of American women and girls, one state at a time. Unlike most Americans today, I grew up in a country where abortion bans once restricted reproductive autonomy and claimed many lives.
Now I believe that the same country – Ethiopia – can provide a valuable lesson for activists and providers looking to resurrect rights that were guaranteed through Roe v Wade until it was overturned by the US Supreme Court earlier this year.
By Sara Jerving
17 August 2022
As a medical student and then obstetrician-gynecologist resident at the turn of the millennium, Ethiopian Dr. Muir Kassa’s work was bleak. Across the country, delivery and gynecology rooms were overwhelmed with cases of women that had undergone unsafe abortions.
“Lots of women died at my hands because they attempted unsafe abortions at home, by using some unimaginable ways, like inserting umbrella wires. It becomes very difficult to save her once she already has these complications,” he said.
by MSI REPRODUCTIVE CHOICES
Over the last 30 years, 59 countries have relaxed abortion restrictions. This includes 18 countries that have overturned complete bans on abortion. In stark contrast, with Roe v. Wade overturned, the U.S. joins the ranks of only three other countries to have restricted access in that time: Poland, El Salvador and Nicaragua.
So, while the news from the U.S. is cause for alarm, it also reminds us of how far we’ve come, and why we cannot turn back the clock in countries that have liberalized abortion. The following stories of abortion providers in Cambodia, Ethiopia and Nepal of life before their countries legalized abortion show the U.S. how restricting abortion rights can endanger women’s lives.
By Julie Taft
20 January 2022
In the Northern Ethiopian regions of Tigray, Amhara and Afar, an estimated 5.2 million people are in dire need of humanitarian assistance, and an estimated 3.5 million people from these regions have been displaced after more than a year of conflict, which began in November 2020. Among them are an estimated 118,000 pregnant women and 1.3 million women of reproductive age, with those figures set to grow with the ongoing crisis.
The dynamics of the conflict in northern Ethiopia remain complex and fluid, but one thing remains clear: at the heart of this crisis are millions of people in need, particularly women and girls.
1 September 2021
FIGO - Advocating for Safe Abortion Project, Committee on Safe Abortion
In this FIGO Long Read, we provide a round-up of a recent roundtable discussion hosted by FIGO's Advocating for Safe Abortion Project (ASAP) and Committee on Safe Abortion. Together with partners, we explored the critical issue of conscientious objection and its impact on the availability of and access to legal and safe abortion services.
Quote by Laura Gil: Sadly ‘conscientious objection’ has become a widespread barrier for many people to access the care that they need. It is very common to hear that women or girls cannot get an abortion on time, got an unsafe abortion, or didn't get one at all because of ‘conscientious objection‘ from the available personnel.
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?
Uganda to conduct a study on abortion rates
Findings will highlight deficiencies in safe abortion and post-abortion care services.
By Carol Natukunda
3rd August 2018
KAMPALA - Uganda is participating in cross-country studies on abortion and post-abortion care in Africa and Asia. Researchers seek to find out women’s knowledge of abortion methods and sources, the incidence of induced abortion, how women terminate pregnancies, and the extent of unsafe abortion.
In addition to direct questions on abortion, the female survey module includes questions about the respondents’ two closest friends and their experiences with abortion.
Ethiopia: Comprehensive abortion care to decline maternal death
May 3, 2018
BY HAFTU GEBREZGABIHER
Self-induced abortion, or the deliberate termination of pregnancy is one of the most controversial issues in legal discourse. As a legal issue, abortion is usually discussed in light of the principles of criminal law. Depending on circumstances, however, abortion can also be discussed from the standpoint of constitutional law.
In the former case, the issue usually takes the form of criminalizing or decriminalizing the act, while in the latter, the issue becomes whether a pregnant woman has a constitutional right to terminate her pregnancy. The issue thus usually involves the competing arguments in favor of the "right" of the fetus to be brought onto life (i.e. personhood) vis-à-vis the right of the mother to abortion based on her interests and choice.
First Study on the Incidence of Abortion Among Ethiopian Adolescents Released
Improved Access to Safe Abortion Has Benefited Adolescent Women
March 14, 2018
A new study finds that adolescent women have benefited greatly from the 2005 expansion of Ethiopia’s abortion law that gave them access to safe, legal abortion services. “Playing it Safe: Legal and Clandestine Abortions Among Adolescents in Ethiopia,” conducted by researchers from the Guttmacher Institute and Ipas, documents for the first time legal and clandestine abortion rates among Ethiopian adolescents (aged 15–19), and the severity of abortion-related complications in this age-group. The study found that adolescents are more likely than older women to obtain legal abortion services, and that complications from unsafe abortion are just as severe among adolescents as they are among other age-groups.