28th September 2019
Abortion is Health Care
Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum, (HRAPF) joins the world in commemorating the International Day of Action on Access to Safe Abortion Services.
This year’s theme, ‘Abortion is Health Care,’ highlights access to safe abortion services as an integral aspect of the right to health. It is therefore imperative for the different key stakeholders within Uganda to reflect on the implications of limited access to safe legal abortion services on the sexual reproductive health and rights of women.
As of 2013, the incidence of unsafe abortion in Uganda is at 314, 304 per year, accounting for 10% of the maternal mortality rate in the country. This is amidst a legal framework that permits access to safe legal abortion services within the limited parameters of saving the life of the mother, and where it is done using surgical means. Efforts to establish a more accommodative legal and policy framework that clearly defines the exceptional circumstances in which abortion is permitted have met strong religious opposition. This leaves women and girls who are faced with unwanted pregnancies without the option of legally making a choice as to whether or not to carry such pregnancies to term, which compels them to resort to terminating them in clandestine and unsafe conditions. According to a study conducted by HRAPF in 2016, on the ‘Implications of the Enforcement of Criminal Abortion Laws on the Rights of Women and Health Workers in Uganda, ‘ the restrictive legal framework on abortion, coupled with the existing social stigma around the abortion question, also hinders qualified health service providers from availing safe abortion services. This on the whole is, in light of Uganda’s national, regional and international human rights obligations, a violation of women’s sexual reproductive health rights, as it robs of them of the right to freely make personal reproductive choices, and ultimately endangers their lives.
In light of Uganda’s core human rights obligations, as well as the commitments she made to implement the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and the Action Plan of the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), we call upon the government to take positive steps towards reducing maternal mortality and morbidity arising from unsafe abortion, by making abortion services safer and more accessible, through legal and policy reform; as well public sensitization on abortion as a health right.
Taking Human Rights to All