HRAPF Press Statement on International Safe Abortion Day

By hrapf
In September 27, 2018



 Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum (HRAPF) Joins the World in Commemorating International Safe Abortion Day.

“Normalising Abortion its Part of Our Lives”

The fact that abortion is criminalised in Uganda with very little exception continues to contribute to the alarming rates of maternal mortality in the country. In 2016, the Guttmacher Institute released a study suggesting that there were at least 314,304 induced abortions in Uganda in 2013. This means that statistically about 39 out of every 1000 women of reproductive age have had at least one induced abortion. Research suggests that the legal position on abortion has no impact on the incidence of induced abortion but does have significant impact on the methods and circumstances of carrying out the procedure.

HRAPF, as a provider of legal aid services to women, girls and health care workers who have come into conflict with the law on abortion, is well aware of the violations, which are suffered due to the existence and enforcement of restrictive criminal abortion laws. In 2016, HRAPF documented these violations in a study entitled ‘The enforcement of criminal abortion laws in Uganda and its impact on women and health workers’. The study found that at least 182 arrests were made on abortion-related charges during the period 2011-2015. Furthermore, the mere existence of the criminal laws makes women unable to access safe abortion services as the qualified services providers fear to openly provide such services. The enforcement of the laws lead to a number of serious human rights violations such as the rights to life, health, liberty and dignity of the women who undergo unsafe abortions since they leave women with no legal options but to seek the services of quacks.

Today, HRAPF takes this opportunity to call upon the government of Uganda to address the state of abortion laws in the country. There is no law in Uganda that prescribes the circumstances under which a woman is allowed to terminate her pregnancy. Uganda’s neighbours such as Rwanda, Ethiopia and Kenya all have laws which clearly set out the conditions under which abortions are not considered as illegal, including where the cause of the pregnancy was rape or incest or where the women’s health poses a risk to her giving birth or carrying the pregnancy to full term. In March of this year, the Centre for Health, Human Rights and Development (CEHURD) along with two law professors instituted a case in the Constitutional Court of Uganda to challenge Parliament’s failure to give effect to Article 22(2) of the Constitution, which envisions the enactment of a law that could clearly define the circumstances under which an abortion may be induced.. HRAPF supports this petition, calling upon the Court to direct the Executive and Legislature to pass a law to regulate the termination of pregnancies. HRAPF furthermore calls upon the government to take urgent and decisive steps toward the adoption of policies and guidelines, which clarify the conditions under which abortions are not criminalised.

Maternal mortality due to unsafe abortion can only be stopped if the current restrictive legal regime is changed for the better.

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