RESTRICTIVE ABORTION LAWS AND THE PLIGHT FOR WOMENS RIGHTS #SEPTEMBER28
National Officer for Sexual and Reproductive Health including HIV/AIDS (NORA), Vikar Singh
Sierra Leone, a country situated in West Africa, has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world, at approximately 1360 deaths per 100 000 live births, with nearly 9% of these deaths being attributed to unsafe abortion.
Dr. Asad Naveed, former president of Sierra Leone Medical Students Association (SLeMSA) and medical intern at Princess Christian Maternity Hospital, Sierra Leone, explains that many women come to them with incomplete abortions.
“Most had bleeding and abdominal pain. I remember one woman in particular that came in too late and developed severe anaemia due to bleeding and died”
The country had begun to make major leaps to improve maternal health. On 8 December 2015, the country’s parliament voted with an overwhelming majority to make abortion legal in Sierra Leone. The Safe Abortion Act, would replace the earlier English Offences against the Person Act of 1961, allowing women to legally have an abortion at designated facilities during the first 12 weeks of gestation, and thereafter under specific circumstances.
However during March 2016, Sierra Leonean president, Ernest Bai Koroma, refused to sign the bill after pressure from religious leaders.
This is not an isolated incident. Recent legislative hurdles in countries such as Poland exemplifies the difficult battle women encounter to make choices regarding their own bodies!
Annually, 28 September marks the Global Day of Action for Access to Safe and Legal Abortion. This day highlights Access to safe and legal abortion as a Human Right, grounded in numerous human rights bills and recognized and protected under international law, including the rights to bodily integrity, autonomy in reproductive decision-making, and privacy, among others
This year’s campaign is sets to highlight how abortion stigma and gender stereotyping restricts access to safe abortion services by linking this medical procedure to notions of “abnormality” and “immorality” forcing women and other pregnant individuals to seek unsafe abortions and in some countries even criminalize individuals who have had or are suspected of having abortion, as well as abortion service providers; among other negative consequences.
For more information on the campaign, resources and videos visit www.september28.org
Diverse Actions, Different Places, One Demand:
Access to Safe & Legal Abortion NOW!