In order to improve the health and safety of women, policymakers in Mozambique have announced that they will consider lifting the country’s ban on abortion. Mozambique’s Health Ministry finds that, while illegal abortions are greatly underreported and the true numbers are probably much higher, some 100 women die annually from botched abortions, while many more suffer serious health problems. About 11 percent of all maternal deaths registered in the nation’s capitol are a result of illegal abortions, making it the third leading cause of maternal mortality in Mozambique, which has one of the highest maternal death rates in the world. Legislators hope that, by lifting the ban, women will be able to seek safe abortions in well-equipped facilities.
The proposal, which would end the complete ban except in cases where a woman’s life or health is endangered, is scheduled to be presented to the parliament in October. The legislation is expected to pass easily.
Graca Samo, executive director of the Women’s Forum, an umbrella organization for non-governmental organizations promoting women’s rights, emphasized that abortions will happen in Mozambique, even if it is illegal. In order to protect women’s health and lives, Samo advocates for lifting the ban. “You cannot imagine the means people use for unsafe abortions,” she said. “It can be a pen, a piece of wood. It can be whatever it is… They know they are putting their life at risk.”
After South Africa removed restrictions on abortion in 1997, maternal deaths from botched abortions dropped 91 percent, IRIN reports.