Tuesday, November 16, 2010

African Women & Unplanned Pregnancies

More than 250 health professionals, advocates and parliamentarians from countries in Africa and other regions recently gathered in Accra, Ghana to address the issue of unsafe abortion. Unsafe or clandestine abortion is the norm in most of Africa and can lead to serious health complications or death. Approximately 26,000 African women die as a result of unsafe abortion every year. And over 90% of African women of childbearing age live in countries with limited or no access to safe abortion procedures. Unsafe abortion is not only one of Africa’s biggest threats to women’s health, but it can also be detrimental to community ties and families, thereby exacerbating the struggles of living in poverty.

For African countries as it is with any country – like the U.S. for instance – a controversial debate arises when considering whether or not abortion should be made legal. However, it must be noted that evidence has shown that around the world, abortion happens at about the same rate in regions where it is highly restricted and where it is broadly legal. So, the threat of unsafe abortion to women’s lives is an issue that clearly needs to be addressed. An alternative solution to unwanted pregnancies is to increase prevention strategies – make sure that women have access to and information about effective contraceptive methods. This is where African governments also need to step in to protect its women. Government leaders must start paying attention to the evidence that will help guide them toward laws and policies that will better protect women and build stronger families, communities and, ultimately, nations.

-Clare O.

SOURCES: The Guardian, WHO