By Karna Eugene Kone
Communications Advisor, Ipas Francophone
Ipas Afrique Francophone and le Centre ODAS are proud to play a significant role alongside all the stakeholders of the safe abortion movement in Benin for the Beninese government to guarantee women’s rights and access to safe and legal abortion services.
From left to right: Aguiar Amour is a midwife. Beniel Agossou is a youth activist for human rights. Teslanik Houndegnon is a journalist and feminist. Merveille Ayihounton is a program associate at Ipas.
These four individuals have something in common — they are champions for abortion rights in Benin. Over the past several years, they fought hard to create a sustainable abortion ecosystem for women and girls in Benin to access safe and legal abortion care.
They are now happy because the legal framework for the sexual and reproductive health (SRH) of girls and women has evolved in Benin. The government of Benin has passed the decree establishing conditions for the delivery of abortion services in Benin. This decision makes Benin the first country in Francophone West Africa to have legislation on abortion aimed at protecting the fundamental rights of women to access safe abortion care without fear of legal sanctions. It also marks the beginning of a new era for women and girls living in Benin.
On October 21, 2021, the Beninese parliament passed an amending and supplemental bill expanding the conditions for access to safe abortion in Benin. According to Article 17, paragraph 2 of this new bill, “At the request of the pregnant woman, abortion may be authorized when the pregnancy is likely to aggravate or cause a situation of material, educational, professional or moral distress incompatible with the interests of the woman and/or the unborn child.”
The decree specifies the conditions for implementing the law authorizing abortion in Benin:
- Abortion can only be performed by a duly authorized physician, midwife, or nurse in public or private health facilities. The latter must have specific approval issued by the Minister of Health. All health facilities must meet the technical requirements and provide psychological and social care for the patient before and after the procedure.
- All those involved in processing requests are bound by professional secrecy. It guarantees a conscientious objection clause to those whose religious or philosophical convictions prevent them from participating.
- The risks associated with each abortion procedure must be explained to the patient, regardless of the cause of the request for an abortion, and her free, informed, and renewed consent must be required.
Ipas Afrique Francophone and le Centre ODAS will work with the ministries concerned and all the sustainable abortion ecosystem stakeholders to ensure that the decree is well publicized and efficiently applied everywhere in Benin, while also working to make it more holistic.