Evidence on Abortion Incidence, Safety and Legality in Sub-Saharan Africa

Nearly all the harm caused by unsafe abortion is preventable. Eliminating unsafe abortion starts by expanding the availability and use of contraceptives to prevent the unintended pregnancies that result in the vast majority of abortions. Countries in SSA must act to expand access to safe abortion by fully adopting the legal criteria in the Maputo Protocol; they must also act to limit the harm caused by unsafe abortion by expanding post-abortion care services that follow up-to-date WHO guidelines. More can and should be done to move the region towards meeting its international and regional commitments to fully protect and enhance women’s reproductive health. If SSA governments do not act to prevent these avoidable deaths from unsafe abortion, they will be hard pressed to meet the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal target (Goal 3) of reducing the maternal mortality ratio to fewer than 70 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births by 2030.