Tuesday, January 19, 2016 | News

The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights launches campaign to decriminalize abortion

On Jan. 18, the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights
(ACHPR) launched a continental campaign for the decriminalization of
abortion in Africa to bring attention to unsafe abortion which
significantly threatens women’s and girls’ sexual and reproductive
health and rights. ACHPR announced the campaign during the African Union
Gender is My Agenda Campaign (GIMAC) meeting held in Addis Ababa,
Ethiopia.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), unsafe abortion
continues to be a major cause of maternal deaths and injuries in Africa.
Roughly 47,000 women die each year from complications from unsafe
abortion and nearly two thirds of those deaths occur in Africa. In fact, more than 6 million unsafe abortions occur in Africa, resulting in 29,000 deaths
and countless serious injuries and disabilities every year for poor,
mostly rural-based African women and girls under the age 25.

Hon. Commissioner Lucy Asuagbor, Special Rapporteur on the Rights of
Women, said these deaths occur partly because of laws that criminalize
abortion, presuming that the threat of arrest or imprisonment will
prevent women and girls from having abortions. Yet making abortion
illegal does not reduce the number of abortions nor deter women from
having abortions—it just makes abortion unsafe and risky, resulting in
more women suffering injury or even death from complications from unsafe
abortion, she noted during the campaign launch event.

The ACHPR is committed to bringing countries into compliance with their commitments
under the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights and the Protocol
to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of
Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol); the Maputo Plan of Action; and the
Campaign for the Accelerated Reduction of Maternal Mortality in Africa
(CARMMA). To that end, the ACHPR has called on governments to
demonstrate their commitment to African women and girls by
decriminalizing abortion in their respective countries.

“Ipas is proud to partner with the ACHPR on this campaign. We are ready to bring our growing body of evidence around the criminalization of abortion to the table and will continue to push for access to safe, legal abortion for women in Africa,” says Ipas Africa Alliance Senior Advisor Lucy Lugalia, who participated in the campaign launch event.

For more information, contact media@ipas.org