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Access to safe abortion in Africa and its impact on reproductive health

Sahlu Haile, David and Lucile Packard Foundation

Unsafe abortion exerts heavy toll on women's health in Africa. Some reports indicate that every day 10,000 women have an unsafe abortion. As a result, many women die or are victims of permanent damage to their health including chronic pain, illness and sterility. According to the World Health Organisation, almost 99% of abortions taking place in Africa are illegal and therefore unsafe. Yet it is well known that morbidity and mortality levels relating to abortion decrease dramatically in countries where abortion has been legalized. The most important determinant of the impact that abortion has on women's health is therefore its legal status. Unfortunately, this fact is not known by reproductive health advocates or policy makers. This study will review the legal and medical situation related to abortion in Africa and recommend actions by reproductive health advocates to improve access to safe abortion.

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Presented in Session 46: Reproductive health rights and choices