A bold agenda for safe abortion in Africa

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Africa Regional Conference on Abortion

The Africa Regional Conference on Abortion: From Research to Policy conference, held Nov. 29 – Dec. 2 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, brought together researchers, policymakers, advocates, health-care providers, youth advocates, journalists, and donors—all focused on reducing the detrimental impact of unsafe abortion on African women, especially young women and girls.

The conference corresponded with two important milestones:

  • The 10-year anniversary of the passage of the law in Ethiopia which decriminalized abortion and paved the way for a national safe abortion program under a broad set of conditions.
  • The 10-year anniversary of the 2006 consultation, Linking Research to Action to Reduce Unsafe Abortion in sub-Saharan Africa, during which participants shared abortion research findings to date, identified the significant evidence gaps to facilitate policy and practice change, and set an abortion research agenda for the next decade.

At the close of the conference, organizers, co-sponsors and other attending signatories endorsed a Conference Declaration that sets forth a comprehensive research and action agenda and cements their shared commitment to safe abortion care throughout the region:

“We—more than 260 researchers, advocates, policymakers and donors—commit ourselves and call on others to build, share and act on the evidence…. We pledge to come together as a community of experts who share the commitment to expanding access to comprehensive and high-quality reproductive health care, including safe abortion. We will trust the women and girls of Africa so that they can fully realize their reproductive rights and achieve their potential.”

The declaration highlights the need to expand evidence in areas such as medical abortion, the root causes of abortion stigma and other barriers to access, quality of abortion care, and interventions to increase access to care for all women, particularly those in humanitarian settings and survivors of sexual violence.