Bring abortion out of the dark ages in Africa and save women's lives

By Gabrielle Pickard
0 CommentsPrint E-mail, November 22, 2010
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The ethics about abortion will always spark debate. Whilst many see it as every woman's right, others regard it as an immoral sin. Certain nation's stances and laws about the termination of pregnancies are often considered extreme, dissipated and even dangerous. China for example, where abortion has been legal since 1953, regularly comes under criticism for using abortion as a tool to adhere to China's strict one-child policy to control population growth. Those affirming their condemnation of certain laws regarding the termination of pregnancies, should be concerted at Africa, where abortion, because it is illegal, is proving to be a serious threat to women's lives.

It is a shocking but true statistic – approximately 26,000 women die in Africa due to undergoing a risky abortion, with a further 1.7 million being hospitalized. According to recent statistics, out of the 5.6 million abortions performed each year in Africa, only 100,000 are carried out in clean and safe conditions.

A woman feels compelled and desperate when she makes the decision to have an abortion – it is not a decision she takes lightly, in any circumstances. This desperation usually means a woman will undergo a termination whether it is legal or not. Therefore illegalizing abortions rarely achieves its aim, to deter a woman from having an abortion. This is the situation in Africa, where woman are so fraught and desperate, they use self-mutilating methods such as cutting their cervix with a sharp object and drinking bleach to end a pregnancy.

As well as playing both mental and physical torture on the lives of African women, economically, prohibiting abortions makes no sense in a country where public health resources are seriously limited. Governments in Africa are spending a significant amount of money providing medical attention and care to those women harmed by the effects of an unsafe abortion. Performing abortions legally, in a safe and clean environment would not only decrease the number of pregnancy-related mortalities, but also be more cost-effective in a continent where poverty prevails.

South Africa is one African nation that deviates from the zero-tolerance of abortions stance most other African nations uphold. In 1997 the Choice on Termination of Pregnancy Act was passed in South Africa, meaning abortions on demand for a variety of cases became legal. Somewhat predictably the number of abortion-related deaths in Africa dropped dramatically - by more than 50%. Other African governments should follow in the footsteps of South Africa and relax laws regarding abortion and as a consequence some 26,000 women, the hub of the family and communities, may not loose their lives.

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