179316 Defending against abortion restrictions across borders: Progress in Africa

Wednesday, October 29, 2008: 9:00 AM

Shirley Owino, MPH , Ipas, Chapel Hill, NC
Roe v. Wade is still settled law; however, the number of abortion restrictions in the US is increasing. Restrictive abortion laws are not only an affront to women's human rights, but also result in death and injury to women. This is one presentation in a proposed panel that will illustrate the tragic impact of abortion restrictions from national, regional and international perspectives and the work of advocates to advance reproductive rights in restrictive environments.

Globally 67,000 women per year die of unsafe abortion and five million more are hospitalized for complications. African women bear the burden of half of these maternal deaths. In many African countries, abortion is restricted by law and safe providers are unavailable. Without safe options, women turn to unsafe providers and risk their health and lives.

This panelist will give an overview of unsafe abortion in Africa and show the harm of restrictive laws. The presentation will use the examples of Kenya and Nigeria, where abortion is restricted and unsafe abortion is a major public health problem.

The presenter will discuss progress in addressing unsafe abortion at the regional and national levels. Decision makers and reproductive rights advocates have been working to enact agreements that compel governments to change laws to address high rates of maternal mortality from unsafe abortion. These agreements include the African Protocol on Women's Rights and the Maputo Plan of Action. The presenter will also discuss how advocates are succeeding in reforming laws, with examples from Ethiopia and Mozambique.

Learning Objectives:
List clear examples from outside the U.S. of the harm to womenís health and lives when abortion is restricted Describe U.S. policies that support reproductive rights with a priority on women living in the global south, whose health and lives are jeopardized by U.S. abortion restrictions

Keywords: Abortion, Public Policy

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have over five years of progressive responsibility in the field of reproductive health, a Masterís degree in Public Health, and experience in working with diverse Ipas Africa country programs. Currently, I provide technical and managerial support for the Africa region, with regards to program planning, coordination and organizational development. I have worked with the data on unsafe abortion in Kenya and Nigeria, among other African countries. Ipas was and is at the forefront of efforts to reform abortion laws in Ethiopia and Mozambique and works with African Union institutions to strengthen their commitment to reproductive rights and I have been involved with planning and coordination of these efforts.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.