According to the new act in Sierra Leone, women in this West African nation will no longer have only the choice of illegal and unsafe abortions.
The Safe Abortion Act that passed this week with an overwhelming majority support in the parliament will make the abortion procedure legal and will replace the 1861 law that criminalized abortion in this West African nation. According to the 1861 law, the abortion was only legal if it was necessary to save the mother’s life. The Act is yet to be signed into law by the President of the country, Ernest Bai Koroma.
This act will allow women to have an abortion during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. After the 12 weeks, it is only allowed in the cases of rape, incest or risk to the health of fetus or mother. Girls under 18 can have an abortion only with the permission of a parent or guardian.
According to a recent UN report on maternal mortality rate, Sierra Leone is estimated to have the highest maternal mortality rate at 1360 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2015. In a study conducted by IPAS, a non-profit that works to increase women’s access to sexual and reproductive rights and to reduce maternal mortality rate, found that the Sierra Leone government spent up to $230,000 each year on personnel and medical supplies to treat botched abortion cases.
Media Resources: Reuters 12/10/15; UNFPA Report 2015; Ipas 12/8/15