Concord Times (Freetown)

26 June 2014

Sierra Leone: Govt Spent U.S.$230,000 On Abortion Cases in 2011 - IPAS Advisor Discloses

Senior Advisor for the women's health outfit IPAS Sierra Leone has disclosed that in 2011 the government of Sierra Leone spent over US$230,000 on post abortion care in order to save the lives of Sierra Leonean women and girls who involved in such practices either as a result of poverty, forceful marriage, or rape, among other factors.

Valrie Tucker made this disclosure while presenting the status of abortion law in the country at a two-day conference for journalists and health advocates organized by the African Journalists Without Borders Sierra Leone chapter at the Ramzy House, Wellington Street in Freetown.

The figure, according to Madam Tucker, was drawn from a survey conducted by her organization which critically analysed issues around reproductive healthcare services for Sierra Leonean women and their rights in line with the quest of making a progressive law on abortion in Sierra Leone.

"Nearly 20 percent of obstetric complication admissions were abortion related and 25,298 of those cases were done in 2011. It is important to note that the government of Sierra Leone spent over US$230,000 on post abortion care in 2011," revealed the IPAS senior advisor. "Women who undergo unsafe abortion are often the poorest in society. Young women are likely to be unable to access safe services and parental consent."

She maintained that a woman has the right to make decision regarding her own body, right to physical integrity, right to decide freely and responsibly the number and spacing of her children, and right to privacy.

"Women should have right to privacy and to make informed consent when seeking health services," she said.

One of the facilitators, Madam Sylvia Wamugi, said abortion is a serious health issue responsible for over 40,000 (forty thousand) deaths across the world but more serious in Africa and other parts of the world.

"High rates of unintended pregnancy, deaths and disabilities, poverty and the high cost of safe abortion, lack of access to legal safe abortion services, gender inequalities, stigma and silence around abortion, cultural and religious factors, and personal beliefs are among some of the challenges faced by women. The more restrictive legislation on abortion is the more likely abortion is to be unsafe," she said, adding that access to safe abortion is a human right which needs to be addressed in Sierra Leone and the West Africa sub-region.

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