Sierra Leonean Government Sets to Decriminalise Abortion

Sierra Leonean Government Sets to Decriminalise Abortion (News Central TV)

The government of Sierra Leone has authorised a draft law that would legalise abortion in a country with one of the world’s highest maternal mortality rates.

At the 10th Africa Conference on Sexual Health and Rights in Freetown on Friday,President Julius Maada Bio stated that his government had unanimously backed a bill on risk-free motherhood.

The United Nations Population Fund reported 1,120 mother deaths per 100,000 births in Sierra Leone in 2017, one of the world’s highest mortality rates.

A survey conducted by the People’s Alliance for Reproductive Health Advocacy (PARHA), has said, the key contributors to maternal death in the country range from Teenage pregnancy, rape & sexual violence, and abortion.

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Sierra Leone President Julius Maada Bio (Photo by Kola SULAIMON / AFP)

With the passage of the new law, the health and dignity of all girls and women of procreation age in the country will be guaranteed.

Maada Bio added, after the U.S Supreme Court removed American women’s constitutional right to abortion.

Bio said he was “proud” that Sierra Leone was implementing a “progressive reform” while women’s rights in sexual and reproductive health were being overturned or threatened.

Organisers of the conference welcomed the move as a major boost for women and rights groups in Sierra Leone.

Parliament is expected to debate and vote on the legislation, according to the presidency. Sierra Leone’s current abortion law dates back to 1861, a century before it won independence from Britain. It bans the procedure unless the mother’s life is at risk.

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Although there has been a sharp decline  in sexual violence in the country, most of its women are subjected to FGM and health authorities estimate that high-risk abortions cause around 1 in 10 maternal deaths in the country.

Seven years ago, parliament adopted a law on safe abortions, but the president at the time, Ernest Bai Koroma, refused to approve it due to pressure from religious groups.

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