Sierra Leone: Abortion no longer illegal, Safe Abortion Act passes in parliament

The parliament of Sierra Leone has passed The Safe Abortion Act, 2015 which is “an Act to prevent maternal death and injury, safeguard reproductive rights, determine the circumstances and conditions  under which pregnancies can be terminated and to provide for other related matters.”

This act will replace the English Offences Against the Person Act of 1861 which was previously the law that governed abortion. Under the English Offences Act abortion was only permissible to save the life of a pregnant woman. In addition anyone who gave consent for an abortion or performed an abortion could be arrested.

In 2011 three studies conducted by the government of Sierra Leone and Ipas identified “unwanted pregnancies in all regions of Sierra Leone as a significant problem, contributing to thousands of maternal deaths and injuries, infertility, poverty and orphaned children.” They also found 1632 post-abotion cases, that is women treated in hospitals as a result of having gotten unsafe abortions elsewhere. They estimated that this number could have doubled had all cases been treated in the hospital. 

Ipas reported that “the Sierra Leonean government spent between U.S. $112,000 (Le481,600,000) and U.S. $230,000 (Le989,000,000) annually in personnel and medical supplies to treat post-abortion cases.”

Now that the safe abortion act has been passed the government can expect to spend an estimated $109,000, halving abortion related spending nationally.

 

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